Monday, September 21, 2009

Windows of opportunity

As our children grow, there are moments when they are ready to tackle new skills. If parents miss these windows of opportunity, learning the skills later on can be more difficult. It also slows children’s growth towards independence.

One preschool teacher explained that 4 and 5-year-olds are ready to take responsibility for self care skills like:
  • Taking off their jackets and hanging them up.
  • Putting their lunch box on the appropriate shelf.
  • Checking off their name on an attendance sheet.
She reported that some parents keep doing these things for their children long after their children are capable of doing it for themselves. At her preschool there is a 5-year-old girl, Abby, who simply walks into the school and stands with her arms straight out as her mother takes off her coat and boots and puts away her lunch. While other children are doing these tasks themselves, Abby is not.

Abby has difficulty making decisions in the classroom and knowing what to do without being told. For example, one day when it was time for lunch, the teacher asked Abby what she thought she should be doing. Abby looked confused and sat down. The teacher explained that actually she should be washing her hands before lunch.

It’s hard for children to learn to think for themselves when their parents do too much thinking for them.

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