One of the main aims of a child’s first year in school is to help them to develop their independence, both personally and academically. It is important that children are able to transition from dependence on adults to being positive and confident individuals. Teachers and staff in school will support your child to become independent in accessing their learning, but there are many ways you can support your child with the independence before they begin school.
Using the bathroom
By the time they start school, developmentally typical children should be able to use the toilet independently. This includes removing necessary items of clothing, wiping themselves, flushing the toilet, dressing and washing their hands. Of course, children may still have accidents in school, and early years classrooms are well equipped to deal with any mishaps your child might have. But try to give them the best start by teaching them independence with toileting before they start school.
In their first year at school, your child will likely spend a lot of time outdoors, playing in mud, paint, water and sand. Expect them to come home dirty – this is an essential part of their learning and development. But to help maintain their personal hygiene (and save on your washing bill!) encourage your child to become independent with self-care. Show them how to wash their hands when dirty, how to use aprons to protect their clothing and how to clean up after themselves, too.
For P.E lessons, outdoor learning, or even just to remove a layer when hot, it is important that your child is able to dress and undress themselves independently. If they only ever have parents doing this for them at home, they will continue to be reliant on adults when they start school. You can make this easier for them by choosing fun clothing with zips or elastic instead of buttons, and shoes with Velcro rather than laces.
When they start school, children will begin dining with their peers, whether eating school meals or packed lunches. It is again important that they are able to eat independently so that they are not reliant on adults to help them. Show children how to use cutlery at home, and even if they aren’t particularly adept, this skill will develop over time as they eat socially at school.