The older the child becomes, the less he needs the help of his parents in everyday affairs: the child learns to wash his own hands, brush his teeth, and dress. While some already at the age of three deftly cope with a toothbrush and begin to master buttons, others are faced with completely unexpected difficulties. Teachers at the Sozvezdie Children’s Montessori Center reveal the secrets of developing self-service skills in preschoolers.
What are self-service skills?
First, let’s take a look at what constitutes self-service skills. In general, it is the child’s ability to independently maintain hygiene and perform the necessary self-care procedures. Self-care skills include the habit of regularly brushing your teeth and combing your hair, going to the toilet yourself, dressing and undressing, using socially accepted cutlery, and so on. Sometimes self-service skills also include basic communication skills with others.
Subtle benefits of self-service skills
The obvious bonuses of mastering self-service skills are clear, the baby becomes more independent, it is no longer necessary to follow his every step. However, many parents neglect self-care skills, focusing more on developing their child’s thinking and creativity. However, teachers and psychologists unanimously argue that self-service makes an unobvious, but tangible contribution to literally all areas of a child’s life.
Child cognitive development
Learning the sequence of actions has a beneficial effect on the development of memory and thinking, and is involved in improving the child’s attention. It should also be remembered that the more skills the child has already mastered, the better he will be able to navigate in a new situation for him, therefore, self-care skills contribute to the child’s overall intelligence.
Development of coordination and fine motor skills
Have you ever wondered how well you have to control your body in order to put on a T-shirt yourself, handle a button or tie your shoelaces? Numerous small actions that the baby has to perform when dressing and other procedures become real exercises for the development of fine and gross motor skills.
Impact on communication with other people
In our society, self-service skills are understood as an indicator of a person’s adequacy; we even unconsciously evaluate people by their appearance and neatness. A child who, by the age of 6-7, has problems with dressing or, even more so, needs help while visiting the toilet, is likely to become the object of ridicule by peers and sometimes adults. The converse is also true: a child who does not have difficulties with self-care feels more confident, and more easily adapts to kindergarten and school.
Self-care skills are not only about a child’s neatness, they are skills that affect almost all areas of a child’s development. In addition, going to kindergarten and interacting with other people is much less stressful for a child if he is able to take care of himself on his own.
How can you help your little one develop their skills?
Of course, the question arises, how can you help your child learn all these many and sometimes complex skills? Having collected the experience of other parents and the recommendations of teachers, we have identified five tips for raising independence in children in everyday matters:
- Create colorful step-by-step instructions or checklists and hang them on the wall. Such cards will help kids remember the order of actions, which is especially important when dressing, when the child has to keep in mind a long chain of operations.
- Divide complex activities into small steps. Do not try to teach your child everything at once, break down the whole tasks into a sequence of separate operations. Today we are learning to pull on socks, tomorrow we are going to put our feet in our shoes, and the day after tomorrow we are focusing on Velcro.
- Be consistent. Make it a rule that while the child is small, he solves one everyday problem in one way, this will allow him to quickly learn the necessary actions. You will expand your repertoire and work on creativity after mastering a basic skill, but now try to keep things in place, self-care procedures have their own routine, and a new hygiene item or piece of clothing is not too different from its predecessor.
- Use short, clear instructions. What to take, what actions to take. Repeat instructions without changing the sequence of actions and use the same words and wording, this will help memorization.
- Set aside enough time. “We don’t have time to wait while he digs there!” – parents are outraged when we begin to understand the reasons for the baby’s lack of independence. This approach not only does not allow the child to develop, but also exposes him to constant stress. Imagine if, after a couple of demonstrations, you were forced to quickly tie special nautical knots or play some melody without mistakes. This is how the child sees the situation. There are two options: initially allocate twice as much time for the necessary procedures or, in extreme cases, help him complete the task.