Teaching independence – start now and reap the rewards

Teaching independence – start now and reap the rewards

Earlier this month my friend, Heather, posted a pic of her 6 year old working hard from home with a bunch of sticky notes behind her. I recognized it immediately – a personal kanban board! Brilliant. Super easy to set up and a tangible way for kids to see what they can/need to do, and what they’ve done. Set one up for VF, pictured below.

For those not familiar with kanban, it’s a visual project management tool. In this context, let’s simplify and just look at “To Do”, “Doing”, “DONE”.

As we transition into a summer routine with no camps, no pools, no usual summer frivolities planned (yet), I’m envisioning this board as a tool to create time for me without the rigidness of a schedule or routine. Every day is different and I am definitely not interested in micromanaging every moment of my children’s days on top of carving out time and brainspace for myself.

Materials to gather:

  • marker
  • sticky notes (or paper and wall-safe tape)
  • wall / refrigerator etc
  • washi tape (optional)

Set up:

  1. At the beginning of the day (or week), brainstorm with your child(ren) the activities they can / need to do. Have your list ready in advance, but asking for their engagement is key. You can go hog wild and write everything (eat breakfast, get dressed, play outside, math assignment, etc) OR you can just focus on things that your child can do without you (listen to audio books, tablet time, real science, etc). My board for VF is a combination of both – exciting things for the day and things she can do on her own. Bonus parent points for including a few of their ‘want-to-dos’ that you didn’t think of yourself like ice cream sundaes or water play!
  2. Write each thing on one sticky note. Post them under “To Do”. (If you are starting this midday, place the ones you’ve already done in “DONE”). 
  3. As the day progresses, invite your child to move the notes from “To Do” to “Doing” to “DONE”. 
  4. Next morning, move everything back to “To Do”. Taking off and adding notes as needed.
  5. Scale this up for older kids: you could just include their daily responsibilities (math assignment, independent reading, clean cat litter, etc). You can also set up a free electronic version through this site: https://kanbantool.com/personal-kanban-board
  6. Simplify for non/emergent readers by adding a picture for each sticky note.
  7. Siblings? Color code sticky notes or label with names.

How I Use:

When I need my 4 yo to entertain herself, I direct her to the board of ideas and ask what she’d like to do. Or I might say, we can (water the flowers together) NEXT, what would you like to do NOW? It’s a really simple visual that doesn’t oblige me to a certain thing at a certain time. Love it.

Need some ideas for independent play? Check out this post.

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