How to Help Your Young Child be Independent and Ready for School

Self-help skills are skills that your child can use to independently complete simple daily living tasks. These tasks include- being able to feed themselves or use the toilet independently. By equipping your child with the necessary self-help skills will not only help them be more independent but also get them ready for school. Children that require extra assistance may find it challenging to keep up with their peers in school or be viewed differently by their classmates. However, this can be circumvented with clear instructions by breaking down instructions into simpler steps, helpful reminders along the process as well as providing encouragement.

So how do we teach our child skills that will help in his daily life? 

      1. Firstly, Simplify Instructions Into Smaller Parts. When your child finds it challenging to follow instructions, one question you may want to ask yourself “Does my child know understand the instruction?” To help your child understand your instructions better, you ‘’break down’’ your task into multiple, simpler steps.For example, teaching a child to get ready to brush teeth.  Instead of giving the entire task to the child, what you can do is to “break down” instructions into multiple steps such as 1. Fill his cup, 2. Spread the toothpaste and 3. Brush his teeth. A suggestion is to have simple pictures of the individual steps.
      2. Secondly, Provide Helpful Reminders! When your child fails at a particular step, it might be due to them forgetting the next step or not understanding what to do. As parents, we can help them by providing hints to remind them of the next step. These can come in various forms such as showing them through modelling, gesturing or hand-holding them through the step.
      3. Thirdly, Be Encouraging. Rome was not built in a day and your child may not always succeed on their first try. Being encouraging every step of the way by praising them can motivate your child into continuing the practice.
      4. Lastly, Consistent Practice! Remember, practice makes perfect! Being consistent and going through the steps with your child over and over again to ensure that they get enough practice and are capable of doing it on their own without your help eventually.
Article edited by Edith Kho (Case Supervisor, AP Singapore)          Autism Partnership Singapore December 3, 2019  

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