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Growing In Independence

November 3, 2021 | Kristen Jordan

One of the areas that we often think about as children go through school is developing independence.  The Rivers children are growing and becoming more independent in so many areas, even though we have only been in school for a few weeks.  

Children are doing a great job of managing their materials and supplies as they do work in the classroom– taking things out and putting work away, knowing how to rinse a paintbrush or hold a writing tool, carefully placing all the pieces into the container before it gets put away, sweeping up crumbs after snack, and more.  

Children are working to open their own snacks,  

becoming adept at bathroom routines like remembering to push up their sleeves before they wash their hands, 

and checking out the schedule on their own when they want to know what happens next in our day. 

One big area of growth in independence happens as the weather gets colder: Children get more and more practice with managing their coats and other outside gear.  Children are learning the “flip” to put their jackets on by themselves.  There are steps to this process:

First, lay the jacket down on the ground and flatten it,

then put your feet near the hood

put your arms in and…

flip it up and over your head!

Zipping or snapping is the next challenge with outer gear.  There are steps for zipping too:

Hold the bottom tight.  Put the tab all the way down into slot (or the “train into the station,” as we say). 

Grip really tightly, and pull the zipper up! 

We encourage children to try tasks like zipping 3 times before asking for help. Then we step in to model and give them instructions and guidance as needed to help them toward eventually being able to do the steps by themselves.  

When children accomplish something by themselves, they are proud and it helps build their self-confidence.  Working through tasks like zipping also helps children to develop persistence.  It can be challenging just to get your zipper tab into the right spot and keep gripping the bottom of the jacket while you try, but that hard work gets easier the more you do it, and eventually, it becomes automatic.  Gradually learning how to do something and then being able to execute it on your own helps children to understand that they are capable, and can learn and grow.

A few days ago, spontaneous cheers broke out when a child managed to get her zipper all the way up.  It is very exciting!

We encourage you to encourage your child to put on his or her coat at home and zip or snap it, and find other tasks that he or she can learn to do alone.  Eventually, your child will be able to do the work independently and the reward will be great!

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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