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The Importance of Independence

11 November 2015

There is one great benefit of where my office is situated.  It is that, by stepping into the corridor, I often get a chance to chat to the children as they pass by en route to the playground, Stage One or perhaps the Dining Hall.  

  • Primary Students

At times I can hear the younger children getting organised after swimming – a pretty raucous event that is hard to ignore!  I enjoy taking the opportunity to go and lend a hand as they struggle with putting on shoes and socks and getting themselves organised for returning to class.  At the beginning of the year this is often a huge challenge for, particularly, the younger children.  But quickly I can see an improvement, and they are keen to be noticed and demonstrate their independence to me.  They are so proud!

Helping children become independent must surely be one of the most important goals of any teacher or parent.  We want them to be independent so they are able to take control of their lives.  It may be dressing themselves, organising their belongings, making good choices or leading their learning.  It means as future adults they will become skilled, resilient and self-sufficient.  They will be more able to meet any of life’s challenges.  Being independent means that as adults they will be confident enough to take risks and make choices, take control of their lives and shape their own destinies.

Independence is encouraged throughout our school.  We start the process in the Early Years Cubs.  It can begin with tidying up, putting on shoes and learning to do up buttons and zips.  As the children get older it can be organising themselves for moving between lessons, bringing in homework and PE kit on the correct day and remembering to tell parents important information.  Our Y5 and Y6 children have impressed us so far in the responsible way they have used and looked after their iPads; better than many parents would have predicted.

We have to give children responsibility and allow them the freedom to be independent.  Often it can be hard to watch them struggle and quicker and easier to do things for them.  However, with patience and support we can encourage them to try and succeed.  That really is a lesson for life.

Eleanor Jess, Head of Primary


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The British International School Shanghai, Puxi

111 Jinguang RoadHuacao TownMinhang201107Shanghai


金光路111号华漕镇上海市 闵行区201107

Nord Anglia Education

4th Floor, Nova South
160 Victoria Street
LondonUnited Kingdom

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