Little fingers and hands aren’t always well equipped to tackle simple tasks like getting dressed and carrying out hygiene routines. This is when teaching kids to self-help is so important; it can assist them in mastering major milestones all by themselves. Their confidence grows as a result, along with an ability to find solutions and become more independent and resourceful.
We asked the team at preschool and early childhood provider Kinderland about how they focus on teaching children how to be self-helping little humans.
Why is it important for kids to learn how to self-help?
Self-help is an essential life skill that can be nurtured in children by parents, teachers and others. For example, at Kinderland our children learn to serve food for themselves as well as to their peers. They also learn to clean up after themselves upon finishing their meals.
Children feel good when they’re able to do things on their own. Self-help has major positive spin-offs such as boosting children’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
How do you help infants with self-help?
For infants who are learning to walk, our infant ‘Educarers’ assist by teaching them to hold onto the walking beams in our purposefully-designed infant care bays. By holding onto the beams, they learn to balance their body weight, and discover how to control their muscles better so they can eventually stand up on their own.
Once they grow accustomed to the motion of balancing and standing up, they’ll progress to taking small steps, then to having the natural ability to take steps, and eventually to walking.
How do you focus in instilling self-help values in younger children?
For the younger age group, self-help activities begin with simple tasks like learning to wear slip-on shoes. Gradually, this can progress to learning how to use straps on shoes, and eventually tie shoelaces.
Even our uniforms are designed for a purpose. Our younger children are guided to get dressed on their own into easily worn fitness attire. With the older children, we encourage them to put on their own formal uniforms, which have buttons and zippers. These seemingly simple activities are a challenge for little hands and fingers; when given the opportunity, though, the children learn perseverance and independence.
What success have you noticed when children are able to practice self-help?
Children who are able to self-help exhibit greater self-confidence in their abilities to complete tasks and can better moderate their own capabilities. They exhibit greater tenacity and resilience as they know they have the innate strength to achieve.
How can a physical classroom layout help to foster independence in kids?
We design activities and learning spaces that intentionally encourage self-help. Even for the infancy stage, our classrooms are designed with learning corners that have specific functions and uses.
The structured layout helps our children form a habit of knowing where to pick up and return items, or what is allowed or not allowed in these areas. This reduces their reliance on the need for an adult to help or supervise them.
How can parents encourage self-help in their children at home?
Parents can serve as an attentive coach to encourage a self-help attitude. When children encounter difficulties, parents need not prematurely offer solutions. Instead, they can offer up words of encouragement as well as some time and space for the little ones to explore and overcome difficulties on their own. It’s also important to share positive affirmations when children successfully complete tasks as they serve as a motivation for children to uphold a positive attitude.
Instead of completing a routine for their child, parents can get them involved in the action. For example, a 15-month-old toddler can be encouraged to help out while getting dressed by lifting his or her arms or sliding hands into armholes. Similarly, parents can encourage an older child to take a shower by themselves, with adult supervision.
- Kinderland is one of the pioneers in the early childhood landscape in Singapore, catering for children between two months and six years of age since 1978
- Since its founding, Kinderland has used music to enhance language literacy and enhance listening skills in young children. On top of being able to play music pieces through the use of musical instruments, graduates would have learnt and undergone solfege singing and rhythm training.
- The centre fuses an ‘East meets West’ approach to its methodologies and educational approaches used in the curriculum.
- It also follows a ‘5C’ framework of values to instil in students: Curiosity, Creativity, Capability, Confidence and Care.
A parent’s voice
Eldon Ho, parent of Faith Ho, K2
“Lucky for us, we found Kinderland. I’m not only thankful but also grateful beyond words to Kinderland for helping me by transforming Faith into a confident and bubbly girl. Faith has become a much more confident, cheerful and lively person, much unlike the timid, quiet and introverted girl she was before. She is laughing so often and constantly wears a smile now.”
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Kinderland enrolment website
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