In our classroom, I never do for the children what they can do for themselves. That includes such mundane things as writing their name, sweeping the floor, opening food packages (we use scissors), stacking chairs and putting on outside clothes. Partly it is a matter of survival- there are twenty of them and one of me and having them depend on me for every little thing all day every day would be crazy-making. But mostly it is a matter of providing them with a sense of achievement and success. Giving the children as many opportunities to exercise their quickly developing decision-making muscles helps them gain control over their world and prepares them for a healthy, independent life. And though it may take them longer to do a task that I could do in seconds or minutes, once they realize that the task is their responsibility and they have done it a few times, the fussing stops and they manage to complete it in a reasonably little amount of time thereafter.
Promoting the development of independence, alongside inter-dependence, enables children to become active participants in their own learning as well as active and valued members of a group. Such experiences form the foundation for long-term successful learning, positive self-esteem and future success.