Life Skills

Building School Skills

As they move out of toddlerhood, it’s a great time to build their independence, develop the motor skills and executive functioning they’ll need at school, and get them ready to thrive beyond your home.

At this age, we’re starting to think about “kindergarten readiness,” but that doesn’t mean you need to be busting out the flash cards or teaching them to read at home. (That’s what school is for.) Getting ready for school is as much—if not more—about building problem-solving skills and developing the motor skills they’ll need to do school “work” independently.

Here are some of the things they’ll probably be asked to do on their own when they start school:


Put their fine motor skills to use. You might help with this stuff at home, but at school they’ll be cutting with scissors, using glue (terrifying!), taking off shoes and socks, hanging up their coat, and opening their lunch box or snack container. That means they need plenty of opportunities to practice these things at home. (Yes, even the glue.)


Follow routines and make transitions regularly. They’ll have the support of their teachers, of course, but you can prep for this by practicing your school morning routine in advance, or creating a visual daily schedule that your child can follow at home. Teachers often make use of timers to help young children manage their time and transition between activities, so consider adding one of those to your home routines if your child has a hard time shifting from one task to the next. (Visual timers are especially great for kids who aren’t yet reading or telling time!)


Use the toilet and wash their hands. Okay, don’t panic. But depending on their age and the nature of your preschool program, your child will likely be expected to take care of bathroom business on their own. Once again, the more no-pressure practice you can do at home, the better. And whatever you do…pack extra clothes to keep at school. (Of course, if you have concerns about your kid’s readiness for toileting on their own, check in with your pediatrician!)

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