My daughter (aka “Sunshine”) will be starting kindergarten in a few short weeks. I must confess that I’m a little nervous for her. Is she ready for kindergarten? I hope so!
The academic demands of kindergarten have changed so much since my son was in kindergarten (almost 15 years ago). He didn’t learn how to read until he was in the 1st grade. Whereas, kindergarteners now, walk in on the first day knowing how to read sight words.
Kindergarten readiness is on a whole ‘nother level!
Sunshine knows how to write well and she knows her numbers (1-100), colors and shapes. And, like many obsessive parents (of which I am on occasion) I have been quizzing Sunshine on sight words, vowel sounds and simple math problems.
So, yes, I do think she’s ready…
Except, I continue to be reminded of two points made by the principal and teachers at the kindergarten orientation. They all said the following (at least 3 times):
- Parent’s please allow your child to be independent.
- Your child must walk in to the school by themselves by day 3.
Now, I could get comfortable with allowing her to walk into the building by herself by day 3…maybe even day 2. That didn’t concern me.
What got under my skin about was the comment about allowing her to be independent!
I left that meeting thinking to myself, of course she’s independent. That’s who I’m raising her to be, a self-sufficient, can-do-anything-she-puts-her-mind-to, independent little girl.
How dare they…
In the weeks after that meeting I started scrutinizing everything Sunshine did with my assistance. I started to realize that there were quite a few things that I was doing for my daughter that she was fully capable of doing on her own.
So, I committed to do my part to support Sunshine to become even more independent. Here are a few things I began to do:
- Dressing herself
I stopped dressing her! Yes, I was still dressing her…but I’ve since stopped. I now lay out her clothes in the order they should be put on and walk away.
I did not completely stop bathing her. Typically, I start the shower, she gets in and soaps herself up. I praise her for doing a great job. I take my turn to soap her up. She rinses off and gets out. Occasionally, I dry her off…but sometimes she does it.
- Opening juice boxes or snack bags
This was an easy trade off. I’ve mentioned before that Sunshine is a snacker. Well she often has a snack in the car and before I would have to open the juice box or snack bag for her. Now, I instruct her on how to do it and she does it by herself. She is so very proud of herself, it always makes me smile.
- Brushing her teeth
Like with giving her a bath or shower, I didn’t completely stop brushing her teeth. I let her brush her teeth first without my supervision. I then go into the bathroom and take my turn at brushing her teeth.
- Making her bed
She loves making her bed. She does a decent job…but I always go behind her and straighten the sheets and blanket. It’s just the slight OCD in me.😉
- Tying her shoelaces
She has not mastered this one yet! In fact, she’s not even proficient. Part of the challenge for us is that Sunshine doesn’t like sneakers (and doesn’t own any other lace up shoes). She has several pair of sneakers and she never chooses to wear them. Sometimes I demand that she wear a pair but because she’s not happy with my demand to put them on; she’s not receptive of any lesson on tying her shoelaces. So, we’ll keep trying.
Sunshine has been practicing with zippers and buttons as much as possible, however because we’ve been in the summer months, very few of her clothing has buttons or zippers. So, I’ve been asking her to zip me up, which has been so very helpful because these zippers are typically on the back of my dress and she loves helping me. Win Win!!
- Placing an order
When we are in a restaurant I always have Sunshine place her own order. We practice before the waiter comes over, but she feels empowered to say what she wants and have the waiter respond directly to her and write her order down.
Sunshine is super excited and so proud of herself that she’s able to do most of these things all on her own! It brings me joy to see how happy she is about her accomplishments.
These are just a few examples of ways you may allow your kindergarteners to be independent.
I’d love to hear some of the things you are doing with your kindergartener.