Building Self-Management Skills in Children
One of the most well-known phrases in the Montessori philosophy is “Help me do it myself”. I think that it’s so documented because it really summarizes the Montessori in its very essence. While Montessori schools are known for their learning methods, many people quickly discover the skills of independence are equally visible. Children in all Montessori classrooms are given the space and freedom to be independent learners.
Similarly, in the IB, it is always emphasized about providing the students with skills that allow them to think, act, and choose for themselves. In the PYP, such skills include gross/fine motor skills, organization, time management, safety, healthy lifestyle, codes of behaviour, and informed choices.
Self-managing learners are ready to make choices, persist, solve problems for themselves, access resources for their play ideas, and use social skills to urge others to assist them. Self-management skills require perceptive abilities such as planning, thinking, decision-making, problem-solving and managing attention.
Self-management skills are supported by:
- Setting clear boundaries and consistent rules and routines in order that children can understand behavioural expectations.
- Supporting children’s self-management skills by warmth and security, so that children feel safe to explore, make choices and try out new things.
- Role Modelling, your child learns a lot from you and will often copy your actions. Try to manage your emotions as much as you are able too.
- A ‘go to’ place for them a special chair, rug, cushion that is not away from everyone or everything, but simply a comfortable area and clearly marked. The ‘keep calm’ area also can function a source of security: if your child knows there’s an area to travel to settle down and that they can leave it as soon as they feel better.
- Offer them a tool like clapping or singing, breathing deeply by giving your child a tool to calm themselves, you are teaching them some strategies for dealing with emotions for coping appropriately, rather than inappropriate strategies like throwing a tantrum or acting out.
- Clear instructions of particular routines for self-management, and support for children until they can apply rules or routines without direction.
- Children taking responsibility for managing their own activities. Encourage children to work out and monitor rules for a game or activity for each other. Resist supplying children with ideas, but instead present the choice about what they should try to ,watch how they will solve issues for themselves by making interesting choices.
- Reassurance and support when children’s-initiated ideas and attempts at self-management don’t work out.
The aim of self-management is for children to be self-regulated rather than parent or teacher-regulated, that is, to be able to determine the best course of action for themselves rather than following rules set by an adult