“I can do it!” – Raising an independent child

Shaws Preschool – Building independent and confident children!

Children have a natural drive to be independent. As they grow, they want to do more tasks for themselves, and take responsibility for themselves whenever they can. As adults, we naturally want to help them where we can, protect them from making mistakes, and bail them out of sticky situations.  However we have to be careful that this does not hinder independence!

With independence comes confidence and self-esteem, the ability to problem solve, and them believing in themselves.

We’re not saying leave your child on their own and let them be completely independent! We want to  allow them to be independent within a safe environment. It is the little moments that occur day to day that provide these great learning experiences, that will lead them to become independent people we can be proud of.

Here are some of the things we do to nurture independence at Shaws Preschool, which start from our toddlers as young as 18 months old!

Nurturing self-help skills

Self-help skills are brilliant at nurturing independence and building confidence in even very young children.


There are generally four main types of self-help skills – Self feeding, independent dressing and grooming, hygiene and toileting, and helping with daily chores such as packing up toys and setting the table. The key is to give children age appropriate activities  to help children be successful and to provide sufficient time for children to master these skills. In a preschool classroom such as Shaws, these include children being  responsible for the activities they choose. From as young as 18 months all, children pick out their activity and take it to their table. After they complete the activity, they pack it up and return it to the shelf.  When they arrive at school, the take out their water bottles, snack boxes and communication books, and places them in the appropriate baskets, and pop their bags into the cubby holes. <strong>When children practice self-help skills, they gain confidence in trying new things, and build great self esteem and pride when they are able to complete a task.

Giving children choices

Choices allow children to have some control in a world where adults usually make all the decisions. Giving children choices is a good way to give children independence. However giving choice is the easy part –  the trickier part is having your child understand that they need to live with their choices.

Learning to fail – It’s ok to make mistakes!

“To learn to succeed, you must learn to fail” –  Michael Jordan.

What is the important is the ability to try again.  When children have a problem, don’t be too quick to step in and give them a solution. These may be problems in work such as trying to work out how to complete a puzzle, or how to negotiate with a group of friends in the playground. It could also include letting them try and solve a problem when they come to you for help.  When children are working on a task, step back and let them figure it out. The outcome may not be perfect, and even if it isn’t they would have learnt a tremendous amount. Our job is to encourage them to try again. And most times, they will surprise us or even themselves!

 

Accepting the outcome

When we allow children the independence to take charge, we have to remember that the outcome may not be the same as what we envisioned. They may choose to build their tower in a particular way, or paint their tunnel in a particular way. It is their way and they are proud of it!  And we should accept their end product if that is what they worked towards.

Encourage independent play

Children need time to be by themselves and engage in independent play. At school, these are usually activities designed to be done only by one child from start to finish, giving children time and space to explore and experiment on their own. This is very important not only to encouraging independence, but also for all-round development.  Children do not need to be entertained all the time. They should not need an adult next to them at all times. They need periods of self-directed, uninterrupted play to learn to problem solve using their own ideas.  And when children are in this “space” of independent play, the teacher’s or parent’s hardest job is really sitting back and watching the magic happen!

We want our children to grow up independent, with confidence and ready to take on the world!

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence” – Dennis Waitley.

 

Help my picky eater eat!

Help, my child is a picky eater!

How can I encourage my child to be more adventurous and try different foods? Why does my child eat at preschool and not at home?

no picky eaters here at shaws preschool

Lunchtime at Shaws Preschool

“Picky” eating is actually part of normal development, and most of us will have something we don’t like to eat.  In our experience, the language we use, and the attitude we take towards food refusal are really important. Instead of calling attention to the picky eating, make meals an enjoyable experience. At preschool, mealtime is a wonderful social experience for the children. We involve the children in the routine, and we steer conversations towards what goes into their meals and how the various foods are good for them.

We encourage, but not dwell. Instead of insisting for individual children to finish their food, we encourage them to decide how much they want to eat by saying things like “Let’s make sure you have enough in your tummies, because the next meal won’t be until tea time!” You can also try to get your child excited about trying something new by saying “This is really good, it tastes a lot like (insert another food item) that you really like.”

Be a role-model. Children watch what grown-ups eat, and if you visibly enjoy it, he might be more likely to try

Involve your child in the process. This could mean shopping for food ingredients together,  or even setting the dinner table.

 shopping for groceries - supermarket - at shaws preschool we love veggies shaws preschool

Or even let your child be involved in the cooking process. This is a great way to encourage children to try different foods.

cooking our own food shaws preschool

Making our own delicious snack!

Sometimes (just sometimes!) you might want to allow him to make a (controlled) choice, ie. choosing one out of two possible foods. Children like making choices for themselves so this could be one way to make them try a particular food or dish.

At Shaws Preschool, we adopt the project approach, and one benefit (out of many) we have seen is how our children develop a love for fruits and vegetables after going through 10 weeks learning about them and growing them in our garden, like carrots, for example.

 yummy watermelon shaws preschool

These are a few of the things we do at preschool to encourage our children to eat. Of course, by the time it is lunch time, after a day of “child’s work” and play, the children are ready for a good meal!

 

I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am – Dr Seuss

Play based curriculum – Will my child be able to write?

“I believe in learning through play! But… will my child learn to write?”

child reading and writing shaws preschool
“Will my child be able to write?” This is a frequent question during our school tour for new parents. Shaws Preschool has a play based, inquiry based curriculum. Learning Maths concepts, social skills, resilience, social skills and language skills seem to be a lot more visible. However, many parents are concerned if their child will be able to write. The answer is, YES! Not only will they learn to write, they will also enjoy writing and it will be part of what they do on a daily basis.

By Kindergarten Two (6 years old), when given a topic, the children are able to write a short story, pen down a narrative commentary,
write a short letter, or even put together a simple comic strip.

          child reading and writing shaws preschool      child writing shaws preschool    shaws writing creative child preschool

 

This is no easy task, as the children have to think about what they want to write about, and put it together so that it is meaningful and interesting. But the wonderful thing is, the children enjoy doing this! Some may find it challenging at first, but once they get it, they are confident little writers. How is this so?

It all boils down to the overall philosophy of the school – where learning is fun, and children are immersed in learning through everyday activities and play. And a few things we do to prepare them even before they are ready to write…

1. Setting a solid foundation

Children at Shaws Preschool do not start writing words and sentences in Nursery. In the earlier years, we first focus on developing their fine motor skills and pre-writing skills though play based activities such as dough play, scooping, pouring, peeling, cutting etc.

                    shaws preschool fine motor skills          shaws preschool fine motor skills

They are also given plenty of opportunities to scribble and draw. Drawing after all, is visual writing! From the pictures they draw, they are given plenty of opportunities to express their ideas and stories verbally.

In the earlier years, we also focus on reading rather than writing. In Nursery, the children are exposed to phonics and reading skills. They do not copy sentences focusing on penmanship. The children cannot read yet, and along with the fact that their little muscles are not totally ready for holding a pencil. So we believe that copying sentences is not meaningful.  Instead, they attempt to write words in their own way, be it through letters or symbols. All this provides them with the foundations for writing, and also ensure they are creative and innovative in the way they choose to tell a story.

shaws preschool prewriting

It is all about enjoying the process and having fun. It is also providing them with the developmentally appropriate foundations at the appropriate time, which prevents unnecessary frustrations for the children. Once solid foundations are set, the children will begin writing!

2. Making writing meaningful

shaws preschool meaningful writing

We always ensure that pre-writing and writing activities must be meaningful to the children, in that the children are able to relate to what there are doing. This makes the writing part of their everyday life, rather than an additional task or a chore.  For example, when they do research on their topics, they write and draw out their findings. When they go for excursions, they write and draw about their excursions. When they need to remember things, they write it down and stick it up on the board. Writing becomes part of their daily routine. They share their writing, read it out to their friends, pin it up in the classrooms or even put it in the library shelf for their friends to read.

3. Writing is fun!

Because our curriculum is play-based, there must be an element of fun! And when children have fun, they are more willing to do an activity. The children are able to choose what they write about. It can be challenging for children as they move up levels in writing, so it is important that it is done at the right time, in the right way to always keep it fun.

Once they can write, it doesn’t end there.  The Kindergarten Two children are exposed to different types of writing – stories, news report, even comics to ensure they have a wide scope of writing ability. In the
end have happy little writers who enjoy writing!

 

Ask us!

Have a question for us? Let us know.

What can we do at home to encourage children to write?

We do plenty at school. However here are some things you can do at home.

  • Give your child plenty of opportunities to draw or scribble. Offer as many tools as possible – crayons, colour pencils, chalk, etc.
  • Encourage your child to use drawing to express ideas and tell stories.
  • Draw attention to written words in our environment. From your grocery list to a menu, to street signs. Writing is all around us!
  • Point out your child’s name and encourage him/her to attempt to write it.
  • Provide your child with fun activities that help build fine motor skills such as play dough, cutting etc.
  • When you read to your child, point out the words in the title, or simple words in the book. Don’t make it into a lesson, and only do it when your child seems interested.
  • Ensure everything you do is always fun.

 

My child has started writing, however the spelling is not correct. I notice the teachers do not correct the spelling.

There is a fine line between encouraging a child to write and ensuring it is correct. Usually when a child has just started writing, our aim is to encourage the writing. So at Shaws Preschool, we do not correct the spelling. Once the child gains more confidence, and before the child leaves us to go to Primary school, then we start correcting them, while ensuring he/she does not loose the love for writing.

 

“When you’re teaching children to write, you’re teaching them to think. Writing is the window through which all thinking starts” – Sheryl Black

shaws preschool child writing  shaws preschool child writing

Let your child play with mud!

Mud – dirt and water… two basic ingredients that can conjure up the most terrific feelings and make learning fun. What is it about this magnificent substance that just draws children (and adults!) to it? And it is more than fun as research shows that there are a multitude of benefits of playing with mud!

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