Development of independence in the early years

Independence is an essential life skill and one that needs to be nurtured from an early age, from helping children to be apart from their families to developing skills in dressing and encouraging them to think for themselves. All aspects of independence are important for children to learn to be self-sufficient individuals.

A background of security, support and love is essential to develop a sense of confidence and independence. Parents should be sensitive to the needs of their children and give them encouragement to be independent. A fine balance exists between being overprotective and too ambitious for children to achieve developmental milestones before they are ready. Starting Nursery is often a child’s first big step towards independence and can be a stressful time for parents. The knowledge that your child is in safe hands, and helping them to overcome their anxieties with a positive approach, goes a long way towards promoting independence.

Nursery life is geared towards developing and encouraging independence. Children are able to choose what to play with and which activities to engage with. They find their own belongings such as an art overall or their coat and can put them away. They are supported, whenever necessary, to dress themselves ready to go outside; taking off and putting on their own shoes and coats. They are encouraged to try new things and take risks which help them make decisions and understand consequences of their decision making. They learn to think for themselves and choose different ways of doing things which supports their creativity. Delivering a message to a teacher in another room makes children feel important and encourages them towards independence within a safe environment whilst developing the confidence to chat to a different member of staff.

In becoming independent children do make mistakes but encouragement and praise when they get it right is invaluable. A little extra time in order to achieve what they are trying to do is essential.  Children who are supported and encouraged to think for themselves often show themselves to be very capable independent learners.