Should we focus on building independence among kids early on in life?

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Watching a potter work on his craft, as he slowly works his way on each line, the curve, and patiently gives the pot a distinct design. It is up to the potter to carve the design and give the shape he wants to. Children are like the pot that can be molded into the design that we want, to be the leaders that we envision them to be and take the rein of things into their own hands. The question that arises is how should we as educators, parents, and influencers work towards this and unlock their true capabilities? Will kids learn by preaching? Or will they learn if the adults in their life set an example of how to do it? It is widely known that even a toddler will learn more by watching an adult than being told what to do. If your toddler sees you eat sitting at the couch, he/she will probably want to do that. If they see you not picking up after you, they will do that.

One of the most important aspects of teaching a child to pick up some skills is to be a good listener when they are talking. A child may not always make sense, may ask questions that annoy or are repetitive, but in being a good listener an example is being set on what is expected of them in the future. One of the most simple but important aspects of building independence is teaching kids to have empathy and that comes from being a good listener. The only way to teach them how is to do it with them. Talk to them, discuss with them, ask them questions, ask them why do they have a certain opinion and be open to listen to their justification.

There are many things that a parent or an educator will have to challenge to dispel notions that kids have, to help them understand how things work and that stereotypes can be damaging. In a class at Nurture Kids, one of the kids made a statement that only men are rich. In situations like these our response is to generally negate the statement. But we took a different approach. We asked the kids to think of women who have made a name for themselves, what do they do and to write a little snippet about it. The results were phenomenal. We not only had a healthy discussion in class, they learned about so many influential women and they changed their opinion. Would this have the same effect if we told them no it’s not true? Probably not.
The ‘how’ of doing things is very important when teaching kids to be independent. But can you teach them independence at an early age? Absolutely. A child’s brain develops through their everyday experiences and the sooner you teach them to be independent, the faster they will learn. At Nurture Kids we emphasize on developing skills that help children as young as 2-4-year old’s be independent to do their daily chores. How do we do it? Through the motor skills curriculum where we teach them how to wear a jacket, how to fold clothes, how to pour things from one vessel to another and so many activities like these. These activities imbibe in them good hand eye coordination, decision making, and make them independent.

Another activity that we emphasize on at Nurture Kids is public speaking for all age groups. We talk about public speaking in their day to day life and not just for stage appearances. Teachers use different games, storytelling sessions, and even appearances on Radio shows with kids to discuss different topics. These experiences help them improve their confidence, be better speakers, and learn how to present themselves which is an important facet of independence. Children grasp things fast and are very curious, and it is the duty of the parents and educators to fuel their curiosity.

With programs like Entrepreneurship, it gives us an opportunity to teach the kids to think out of the box, be a problem solver, unleash creativity and be innovators. This allows us to get the kids out of boredom and channelize their energies towards constructive programs. Through taekwondo kids are taught self-defense which is a very critical component of independence. The programs are tailor made to give the children an exposure to all facets of growth and let them carve their own path.

Give those wings to kids and see how they make you proud. They have a reserve of maturity, curiosity, and if pointed in the right direction children can work wonders.