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.