9 Design Ideas to Help Your Kids Be More Independent
Sometimes a simple design trick is all it takes to help teach young kids to be more independent. Here are 11 ideas to encourage independence and make your life a bit easier.
Reachable Coat Hooks
Low hooks (ideally removable) installed in your mudroom or entryway allow kids to hang up jackets and book bags on their own. By making the hooks removable, you can install them at your child’s current height and then adjust them as he or she grows. While mudroom hooks placed above benches look amazing, they simply aren’t practical for little kids — the kids can’t reach them. The end result is a pile on the floor that parents have to deal with. Low, reachable hooks empower children, making them happy along with the adults.
Open & Accessible Toy Bins
Similarly, to encourage young children to play independently, consider low bookshelves with open toy bins that are soft and easily accessible. Closed bins tend to discourage play — out of sight, out of mind. Also, limit the number of baskets and toys to keep clean up manageable. Kids tend to get overwhelmed when dealing with too many toys, making it less likely they’ll clean up on their own.
For more independence in the kitchen, consider designating a small fridge or low drawer for your kids to access parent-approved snacks. Oversized refrigerators tend to be heavy and difficult for children to open, making it nearly impossible for them to grab a quick snack or drink without help from an adult. Not only will self-serve snacks free you up from playing snack bar attendant all day, it will give your kids a great sense of pride to serve themselves food.
Small-Scale Reading Nook
Nudge your children into independent reading by creating a kid-size reading nook with all their favorite books at hand. Low seating, like a fun bean bag chair, and accessible books nearby gives them the ability to sit and pick up a book at will.
For young children and babies, consider displaying a limited selection of books with the covers facing outward, rather than cramming a ton of books into a bookcase with just the spines showing. Young children are able to choose books easier by seeing the book covers, and when finished looking at them are more likely to return the books to their proper place.
Floor beds are a perfect option for young children who are ready to make the move from crib to regular bed, but not quite able to manage an elevated bed frame. Putting the mattress close to the floor allows kids to easily get in and out of bed on their own, and protects them from a long fall if they happen to roll the wrong way in the middle of the night.
Whether it’s in the bedroom closet to pick out their own clothes, at the bathroom sink to wash their hands, or in the kitchen to reach their own cup and utensils, strategically placed stepstools are key to giving kids more independence by allowing them access to places they aren’t tall enough to reach on their own.
When done right, an organized entryway can enable young kids to dress themselves for the outdoors, as well as remind them where to put things when they come back inside. For example, low hooks make hanging up jackets a cinch; designated baskets show them where socks and accessories go; and a kid-sized bench offers them a spot to sit while putting on and pulling off socks and shoes.
Personal Desk Space
Encourage independent work, whether school-related or other creative endeavors, by providing kids with their own designated desk space. Stock the area with supplies like pencils, erasers, glue, markers, crayons, paper and other necessary items.
A low play table, considered an essential piece of furniture for families with young kids, can also be incorporated into this space and pull double duty as a spot for creative projects like drawing, painting and building, as well as schoolwork, playtime and meals.
Smart Storage Solutions
Promote independence in your child’s bedroom by incorporating smart storage solutions like bunk beds with built-in drawers for easy access to favorite clothes and blankets, and a hamper to remind them to keep their dirty clothes off the floor. This will make it easy for them to complete daily tasks without adult oversight.