While 3- and 4-year-olds still need plenty of parental help, preschool experts agree that kids are typically able to do more than many of us think. Here's how you can encourage them:
1. Expect more. Most people have a way of living up (or down) to expectations -- preschoolers included. "At school we expect the kids to pour their own water at snack, to throw away their plates, to hang up their jackets -- and they do," says Jennifer Zebooker, a teacher at the 92nd Street Y Nursery School, in New York City. "But then they'll walk out of the classroom and the thumb goes in the mouth and they climb into strollers." Raise the bar and your child will probably stretch to meet it.
In my own experience in the classroom, the more I expected of my first grade students, the more they surprised me by asking deeper questions in science or explaining in depth how they arrived at the answer to a math problem. Using terms like, “You can do this” or “Let’s begin together and then I want you to finish” or “Go ahead and try first and then ask for help if you need it.” are great ways to encourage a child to become independence.