Sunday, March 31, 2013

Teaching Your Children to be Independent

I mentioned before that one of the most important things I think you could ever teach your kids is how to identify, process, and cope with their emotions. Well one of the other top things on my list is teaching them how to be independent!

Think about all the things that you didn't know and/or wish you would have known when you left your parents nest. Did laundry intimidate you? Did you know how to change a tire? Did you know how to meal plan and grocery shop or did you live off cereal and ramen (like me)?

How capable did you feel?

Each year my kids receive an Independence list which has various tasks on it for them to learn that I feel will help them gain knowledgeable independence, and perhaps more importantly, help them gain confidence and feel capable to take on their adult lives.

Year by year they slowly chomp at the bit learning things like how to dress themselves to match (age 3) how to budget and save money (age 7), how to build a fire (age 9), how to meal plan within a budget and grocery shop off that meal plan (age 10), how to change a tire (age 13) and even how to do their own taxes (age 16 or when they have their first job)

To see the list with age by age recommendations.. CLICK HERE (after clicking, scroll down a bit to see it)

My kids LOVE learning the things on their lists! They are all things that they are perfectly capable of learning by that age- but also challenging enough to keep them interested and excited. After all, it might be boring for a 10 year old to learn  how to dress and match themselves, but exciting to learn how to sew!

Here is the printable I made so we could keep track of what they need to learn and check off what they've already accomplished.
(Scroll down to print)

First I fill out all the things that I feel like they need, and are ready to learn. After they have learned it we check it off and I initial it just for kicks:) Makes it seem more "official" :)

There are certain things that I don't know how to do, like change and blow up a bike tire for example, so there is a "helpers to enlist" box to write down names of family, friends, or neighbors who could help teach and train them in any areas that you don't "specialize" in. (We enlisted Dad's help for the tire changing.)
The post it note is for detachable ideas, notes, and even phone numbers. They work on the list slowly over the year or summer, so each task requires a different set of notes and numbers. Hence the post-it space:)

And finally, when my children have completed the entire list we date and sign it! We decide on an appropriate award based on each child's needs and wants BEFORE they tackle the list to help motivate them. Then, when they've passed off the entire list, we give said award. Ice cream dates, new outfits, and movie dates are the most popular reward in our household.

I have these available in all the same colors as the Family Planner printables. That way you can make a copy of your child's list and keep it behind whatever day of the week that you decide to work on it as a friendly "weekly reminder". OR at least it will match :)
In my case- my children are "color coded". (Makes life super easy. There's no fighting over who get's what cup, towel, bowl, dress, toy, etc- because everyone knows that X color = X kid.) So my blue kid has the blue Independence List. My Red kid has the red one, and so on.

Regardless, I hope you enjoy these printables! Not only is having an Independence List a fun thing to do... it's also a fun thing to save! Makes for great scrapbooking/memory keeping!

Comes in a package of all the colors- so make sure you set your printer to only print the pages/colors that you want!


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