10 Basic Life Skills Your Preschooler Should Know

Encourage your kids to be independent from a very early age. We tell you how to teach basic life skills to preschoolers to help them manage their simple, daily activities by themselves.

By Kavitha Ravi  • 8 min read

10 Basic Life Skills Your Preschooler Should Know

Children can learn basic life skills from a very young age, so that they become self-reliant adults. Doing little things on their own, develops their confidence and helps boost their self-image in the long run. You might think of your children as small, defenceless creatures, who can't take care of themselves. But with a little bit of love and encouragement, you would be surprised at how much your preschoolers can actually get done.

If you really want to help your children, you need to coddle them less and teach them how to be independent. And true independence can only come when they don't depend on you to get things done for them.

What are life skills?

Life skills are essentially any skills that are necessary or useful to manage an individual’s daily life. These can be either acquired through learning or through real life experiences. These include mental abilities like resilience, problem-solving and decision-making skills; social abilities like communication and collaboration; and physical abilities like swimming, cycling and driving.

10 Life skills activities for preschoolers

So here are 10 basic life skills that parents should teach their kids –

1. Manners

10 Basic Life Skills Your Preschooler Should Know

Having good manners will go a long way in helping your kids throughout their lifetime. Children with good manners grow up to be adults with good manners. As a parent you have to set an example for your children, so practise what you preach. If you expect them to be polite in their interactions, be gentle and polite with them. Preschoolers often learn through imitation, so parents need to lead the way. This will influence their interactions with the rest of the world.

2. Dressing and undressing

10 Basic Life Skills Your Preschooler Should Know

This is one of the most useful skills to teach your child. Teaching her to wear her clothes neatly and to be well-presented will free you from the daily chore of helping your preschooler dress every day. The sooner you teach this skill the better, as it also lays the foundation for doing other daily chores by herself. Small children might require some help getting in and out of clothes for a while but teaching them young will set them on the right path.

3. Tying shoelaces

This could be a little tricky to do for a young child but it's one of the most necessary skills you have to teach him by the time he is in preschool. You can make it a fun activity for him and not make it just an exercise to tie his shoelaces. If you can make a game out of it, your child will pick up the skill faster.

Watch this video to teach children to tie shoes with the bunny ears method: 

4. Washing hands before a meal

A whole host of illnesses can be prevented if your children know that clean hands are essential before eating food. Take them through all the steps involved in washing their hands such as opening a tap, using soap, rubbing their hands together to get the dirt off and rinsing their hands thoroughly. Once this becomes a habit, they will automatically do it before every meal without being told.

Teach hand washing with this fun song: 

5. Self-control

Parents, sometimes, let their preschoolers indulge themselves, be it going overboard with sweet treats or playing with toys past their bedtime. These instincts can be controlled from an early age, if you want your preschooler to grow up to be a fuss-free adult. You can do this without being too strict about it. So sit your little one down and teach him the importance of self-control and the concept of delayed gratification.

6. Putting away things

10 Basic Life Skills Your Preschooler Should Know

Encouraging your child to put things back where they belong, will teach them the importance of cleanliness and order. Show them how they can put the toys away after they are done playing and put their plates and other cutlery in the sink when they are done eating. This will help them to pick up after themselves which will hold them in good stead when they become adults. You can also teach them to put dirty laundry where it belongs.

7. Combing their hair

This has to done under your supervision till your child become a little older because she could poke her eyes with the comb. Let your preschooler try combing her hair first and then you can fix it if you aren't satisfied with the results.

Here's a nice video that you can show your preschooler to teach combing her hair:

8. Swimming

This is an important life skill and a fun activity as well. It is essential that your preschooler knows how to swim. It is a lifesaving skill and it is best to learn it when young as it will help your preschooler overcome the fear of water.

9. Handling money

10 Basic Life Skills Your Preschooler Should Know

You can give your kids small amounts of money for the chores they do around the house. By doing so, you will teach them the importance of money. Also, teach them how to budget the money that they have earned. This will help them grow up into adults who are able to handle finances well.

10. Planning

Children should be taught this skill from the time they reach the preschool age. They can start small and plan their play time and what toys they intend to play with. Then, they can graduate to other activities that make up their day. It will teach them the importance of planning and execution, which is a very important skill to have as an adult.

Teach these skills with gentleness and loving care. Children learn most things easily when it is shown to them in a positive way and when they are taught by example.  

Find preschools in your locality.

About the author:

Written by Kavitha Ravi on 31 August 2017; updated on 29 May 2020

Looking for fun ways to keep your preschooler engaged during the pandemic? Check out Little Learners at Home, a home learning programme specifically designed for 3 to 5 year olds by our team of experts.

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