As therapists, teachers and parents our job is to "help children to help themselves" as Maria Montessori once stated. Here are several tips to encourage functional independence of life skills in children:
1. Create an environment where children can be independent. For example, if your child is working on getting dressed, make sure all the clothes, socks, shoes and coat are within reach of the child. If your child is practicing pouring a drink, make sure the container and the cup are an appropriate size for smaller hands. Start where children can be successful by themselves ie climbing smaller trees and work up to climbing larger trees.
2. Observe. Before we jump in and offer help, take a step back and observe can the child complete a skill independently. If the child can not, can you simply modify the environment rather than helping the child so the skill can be completed?
3. Wait and be patient. Children need to take time to process directions and information. Allow the child ample time to complete the task. Try to plan extra time to get ready for outings or food preparation so children can take their time.
4. Try demonstrating skills rather than providing multiple step directions. Keep the demonstration very simple so the child is able to interpret the information independently.
5. Practice, practice, practice. Repetition is the key to functional independence. Children need many trials to be successful.
Life Skills of the Month includes 12 life skill hand outs for parents and 12 posters for the classroom or therapy room. Review a life skill in the classroom or therapy session with the student(s). Follow up with the corresponding hand out to send home to parents. Use this packet, to help with carry over of important life skills for ALL children. Also, includes a
reward chart for students to take home to earn prizes. Find out more at http://yourtherapysource.com/lifeskills.html