Encouraging Independence for Preschoolers

Early Childhood Practical Life, 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 Early Childhood program (2.5-6 years old).


In an organized environment, preschool and kindergarten-age children can:

  • help in making their lunch.
  • brush their hair in the morning.
  • dress themselves and put on their own jacket/coat.
  • put on their socks and shoes. Even if they need help with tying, etc., they can make the effort.
  • remember their backpack, jacket, lunch, work folder/binder, etc.
  • carry their own belongings (backpack, lunch, snack, etc.) to class.
  • walk into class from the morning car line by themselves.
  • go to the bathroom independently as long as their clothes are not a hindrance.
  • pour their beverages and serve themselves, clean up after themselves upon finishing eating.
  • carry their plate to the kitchen after meals.


In an organized environment, preschool and kindergarten-age children can:

  • help set the table.
  • sort silverware after it has been washed.
  • clean up spills; sweep floors.
  • put away their toys.
  • straighten their room.
  • sort clean socks, fold towels, etc., on laundry day.
  • have responsibilities in keeping the environment clean and tidy.
  • help prepare veggies/fruit for meals at home.
  • help plant flowers, weeded flower beds, water plants, etc.


In an organized environment, preschool and kindergarten-age children can:

  • show respect for others.
  • wait patiently without interrupting conversations.
  • use appropriate table manners.
  • understand not to take or use things that belong to others without asking for
  • begin to solve problems with little or no interference from adults.
  • feel empathy for others.


For preschool and kindergarten-age children, it is OK:

  • if your child complains about doing what he has been asked to do; stand your ground!
  • if your child is crying or whining when she comes into class; just let her go and she will be fine. We will call you in the event that she does not settle down.
  • if your child’s clothing is not perfectly matched. It shows that he has been given the opportunity to make his choice independently.
  • if your child makes mistakes. It allows her to learn on her own.
  • if your child’s hair is not perfectly coiffed and/or groomed.
  • if your child spills when pouring, drops when carrying, or does not clean up “perfectly.”
  • if your child misspells words and writes letters and/or numbers backwards.
  • if your child forgets his backpack, lunch, folder, etc. on occasion. The natural consequences that occur may keep it from happening in the future.
  • if your child temporarily misplaces an item.
  • if you let your child try to solve her conflicts on her own before intervening.
  • if your child is brought
    to school in their PJs if you have had a particularly difficult time that morning.
  • if your child brings leftovers for lunch.
  • if your child is not eager to do academic work when he gets home.
  • if your child is assertive about her needs or feelings—this shows valuable self-awareness.
  • if your child thrives under repetition; he relishes the ability to master a skill and use it.

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