Becoming independent

What tasks are Kindergarten children expected to do independently? How long a period of time do kids need to be able to sit down and work independently?

Before I answer these questions, it’s important to remember that the Kindergarten year is all about growth. Well, every year is, of course, but the Kindergarten year even more so! When kids start their Kindergarten year, they are basically just old Preschoolers but by the end of the year they have blossomed into almost First Graders. For this reason, expectations will change throughout the year. Believe me Kindergarten teachers understand that attention spans are short and assistance is needed for even simple tasks. All that will change throughout the year though, and it’s truly amazing to watch!
Independence and responsibility go hand in hand. Becoming independent means an increase in responsibility. As one increases, so should the other. You’ll notice this at home, too!

At school kids will be expected to:

  • Unpack and pack their backpacks, including getting out any folders, library books or notes for the teacher without assistance. That will happen pretty much from day one. After the first week or two your child’s teacher will not look through their backpack every morning for them. There’s just not time in the day.
  • Depending on the teacher’s preference, children may or may not be in charge of managing their own school supplies. Some teachers like each child to have their own pencil box with supplies inside and some prefer to have shared supplies that the teacher stores. Either way your child will be responsible for cleaning up the supplies and taking care of them. It’s amazing how many marker tops can go missing and how many glue tops can stay open.
  • Kids will be expected to remember their lunch boxes and winter clothing items when coming in from recess. This doesn’t mean that if they forget it on the playground all is lost. Yes, your child’s teacher will let them go back and get it, but it’s important that they work on remembering it before they have to go back to get it.
  • Tying shoes is another form of independence. Of course, Kindergarten is a developmentally appropriate time to work on tying shoes. I expected my students to be able to tie their shoes by the end of the first semester. After the winter holidays if a child needed their shoe tied, I had them ask a friend.
  • Make sure all items that came to school return home. Lunch boxes, coats, notes and folders all need to be zipped in the backpack so you can go through it each night!

Now you can also help your child feel more independent by:

  • packing things in their lunch that they can open
  • having them wear clothes that they can unzip, tie or button themselves
  • including “empty the backpack and bring mom everything in there,” as part of the after school routine
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