Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care


“I can do it Mom! You know I can!”

independence

“I can do it Mom! You know I can!”

A familiar phrase from my five-year-old. I reached for the milk to pour in his cup at dinner time, when he reminded me that he is capable of doing this for himself. He’s been reminding me more and more lately that he can do many of the things I’ve built into my routine of doing for him. Whether it’s pouring milk or “fixing” his hair, I’ve had to break my routine and allow him the opportunity to explore his abilities.

This mom is having a hard time with it.

As an early childhood advocate, I know the value of children building their confidence by trying and mastering new skills. I know that a sense of responsibility can help build a collaborative relationship among our family. I know that he’s five and really can do a lot of things on his own. Then the mom in me thinks that my baby really can’t be old enough to take care of most of his needs on his own without my help. He can’t be…or can he?

When I step back and allow him to show me what he can do, he exceeds my expectations. Aside from pouring drinks, cutting food, and dressing himself, he’s shown that he can read, spell, and be a nurturing big brother to his two-year-old sidekick. I can see that when I step back and allow his experiences to guide him, he shows me he has listened and paid attention to my direction.

As he prepares to start Kindergarten, we’ve made a conscious effort at home to give as many opportunities as we can for him to do things on his own.  Of course he needs help sometimes and we’re definitely there to guide him—but it seems to make all the difference to him if he’s tried his way first and asks for help on his own. It is reassuring to me that he values his abilities enough to try things on his own, and also understands that mom and dad are a safe home base to come back to.

The next time he tells me “I can do it Mom!” I’ll reply with a “You’re right, you can do it!” and hand over the task to his capable hands.


Kindergarten readiness: not just for kids!

My daughter will be starting kindergarten in a few short weeks. Where in the world did the time go? It may sound trite to say but it really does seem like yesterday when we brought our little one home from the hospital. For the last five years my husband and I, along with the wonderful early childhood professionals to whom we have entrusted her care, have been preparing Maddy for this very time. I feel confident she is ready cognitively, socially and emotionally. We regularly talk about starting school and, per her request, we drive past the school at least once or twice a week so that she can see the building.

Your child is ready for kindergarten. Are you? How you can stay involved, but let your children grow.

She’s ready, but I’m not! Maddy’s preparation for the big day has been easy compared to mine. It seems like the end of something rather than the beginning, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. What has helped me is to remember that her first day of school is about her and not about me. I might never be ready for my little girl to go off into the world, but she is ready. This is her moment and I want to make it as exciting and wonderful as possible.

In other words, just like there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no crying in kindergarten (at least not by the adults!) My words of encouragement to myself and to all of the other parents facing this milestone are to be strong and be involved. Welcome your child’s first day of school as a new adventure that you will take hand in hand with your child. Begin by introducing yourself to your child’s teacher on the first day and continue by involving yourself each day after in what your child is learning and experiencing. Most children are ready for the transition to kindergarten. Be encouraging and enthusiastic about their new experience. Your child will follow your lead and who knows, you might even discover you are ready for kindergarten after all.