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Mrs Kemp's Blog: Independence Skills

Children love doing things for themselves, and learning to be independent enables them to become independent learners at school. Teaching your child to master the following skills will help them to make a successful start in Reception.

  • Teach them how to use the toilet and to clean themselves afterwards, independently. Of course the teachers will be there to help, but if they are busy in the classroom, the children need to learn this essential life skill fast!
  • Explain the importance of hand washing and teach them how to do it properly, using soap, washing both sides of their hands and in-between their fingers, before drying. In the first year of school there are lots of new bugs that go around and the children can pick these up so easily. This is inevitable to some degree, but proper hand washing really helps.
  • Teach your child to put on their coat themselves. If they can do the zip up themselves, even better, as this will mean they can put their coat on independently if they feel a bit chilly outside.
  • Buy shoes and trainers with Velcro fastenings and ensure your child can put them on and adjust the fit themselves. Some children find it helpful to learn their left from their right - they could make a letter ‘L’ with their left hand and mark an ‘L’ on the tongue of their left shoe to match it with. At Gateway we wear our trainers for break time as well as for PE. Teaching them to wipe their feet on a mat and take off muddy boots before going indoors is also helpful.
  • Help your child learn to get dressed before and after PE. Start with dressing for bed independently and progress to getting dressing in the morning. Give your child time to try on their new uniform and PE kit and practise folding it and putting it in their kit bag.
  • Show them how to pack their black bag and help them to recognise their book folder, water bottle and snack.
  • At school we serve hot meals. Encourage your child to sit at the table during meal times, show them how to use a knife and fork, teach them to pass food to others and take turns in conversations, and to wait until everyone has finished before they leave the table. Encourage your child to try different tastes, and praise them for a positive attitude to new foods.
  • Teach your child to hang their coat on a hook, to put their hat in their hood and their gloves in their pockets. This will ensure they know where their things are at break time.

Don’t worry if your child can’t do all these things before they start school, as we are here to help them learn these skills. Let us know what they find tricky and don’t forget to share their successes with us too!

Suzanne Kemp, Head of Foundation and Key Stage One
Email: skemp@gatewaysch.co.uk

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