Encouraging Independence for Infants

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” –Maria Montessori

 

Children are capable of so much more than we usually expect. Independence looks different depending on the age of a child, but every child can show independence. Here are some benchmarks of independence for those in our Infant program (6 weeks to 18 months).

 

CARE FOR SELF

In an organized environment, infants can:

  • soothe themselves.
  • nap independently.
  • cooperate with dressing.
  • help wash hands.
  • sit on toilet.
  • feed themselves using hands or utensils.
  • drink from an open cup.
  • sit in a chair.
  • walk into class.
  • engage themselves alone for short periods of time.
  • eat while sitting in a chair.

 

CARE FOR ENVIRONMENT

In an organized environment, infants can: 

  • help with cleanup of materials.
  • clean up spills with direction.
  • hand over plate and utensils when finished eating.
  • help slice soft fruit.
  • wipe table with sponge.
  • water plants with help.
  • put soiled bib in laundry basket.
  • help feed fish.
  • learn to be gentle and respectful with materials.

 

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

In an organized environment, infants can:

  • treat peers gently.
  • greet peers with wave or hug.
  • communicate feelings or desires using expressions and signs.
  • respond to basic verbal setting of limits.
  • participate in short group activities.
  • learn basic self control.

 

THE ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE IN NEVER EASY

Children aren’t perfect, and neither are we. For children up to 18 months, it is OK:

  • if your child is not independent at times.
  • if your child needs to be carried sometimes.
  • if your child makes a mess. He can help clean it up.
  • if your child complains a bit about doing what she has been asked to do; stand your ground!
  • to be the parent and not a friend. “You have to love your child enough to let them hate you.” —Carol Burnett
  • if your child is crying or whining when he comes into class; just let him go and he will be fine. We will call you in the event he does not settle down.
  • if your child makes mistakes. It allows her to learn on her own.
  • if your child is brought to school in their PJs if you have had a particularly difficult time that morning.
  • if your child brings leftovers for lunch.
  • if your child is not eager to do academic work when he gets home.
  • if your child is assertive about her needs or feelings—this shows valuable self-awareness.
  • if your child thrives under repetition; he relishes the ability to master a skill and use it.