Encouraging Independence for Lower Elementary

Independence packing lunch, Montessori Private School, Arlington TX

Children are capable of so much more than we usually expect. Independence looks different depending on the age of a child, but every child can show independence. Here are some benchmarks of independence for those in our Lower Elementary program (grades 1-3).


At home and at school, children in grades 1-3 can:

  • wake to an alarm clock, get dressed, and be ready for breakfast.
  • make their breakfast.
  • fill their water bottle.
  • pack their lunch with nutritious foods.
  • remember to bring lunch, coat, water bottle, and backpack to and from school.
  • walk in from car line alone.
  • carry their belongings.
  • serve themselves.
  • clean up spills and accidents.
  • complete homework by themselves and turn it in when due.
  • get into and out of their car seat or booster seat by themselves.


At home and at school, children in grades 1-3 can:

  • make their bed every day.
  • fold laundry and put it away.
  • feed and care for pets.
  • put away toys, games, and books.
  • set the table for meals.
  • help to do the dishes.
  • sort their trash (recycling and compost).
  • take out the trash and recycling.
  • sweep and vacuum the floors.
  • read a book to parents, siblings, and by themselves.


At home and at school, children in grades 1-3 can:

  • say please and thank you.
  • help others with work.
  • solve problems with friends and adults.
  • take advantage of peer mediation when necessary.
  • apologize and make amends.


For children in grades 1-3, it is OK:

  • for your child to learn from her mistakes.
  • to eat whatever the teacher can find at school for lunch because lunch was forgotten at home or in the car.
  • if the laundry is not folded perfectly or in the right place in the closet or drawer.
  • if your child feels some frustration at having to figure something out on his own.
  • to miss a favorite television show to have time to wind down and read before bed.
  • to go to bed early to keep from being too tired to get up on time in the morning.
  • to make two trips to move all of her belongings from one place to the next.
  • to spill.
  • for your child to feel disappointed because he was told “no.”
  • for your child to search for something that has been lost.
  • for your child to complain about doing homework and using the dictionary.
  • if her projects or book reports look like she did it and not her parent.
  • to forget his homework (occasionally).
  • if your child is more focused on quality of work over the quantity.
  • for your child to complain about taking care of his belongings.
  • for your child to complain about having to dress appropriately for the weather.
  • to not be able to explain all of the work done at school and why.
  • if your child does not share details of her day with you.
  • to have a limit on screen time during the school week and on weekends and/or not have screen time until homework and chores are done.
  • for your child to arrive at school in her pajamas with a comb, toothbrush, and clothes in a bag.
  • to be upset with a friend, and work to resolve the issue.
  • for you to have different expectations of your child than other parents have of theirs.

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