Kindergarten Readiness: Life Skills

A survey conducted in 2021 found that 82% of kindergarten teachers specified that life skills were what they wished their incoming kindergarteners had mastered prior to entering their classrooms.  Only 12% of teachers listed academic related skills.

It’s important for your child’s mental well-being to be able to care for themselves at a developmentally appropriate level.  Small acts of self-care and self-help can help decrease stress, improve relationships and promote wellness of body and mind! 

Parents should also keep in mind that their child is moving from a classroom where the ratio of teacher to child is 1:10 to classrooms where the ratio may be anywhere from 1:17 to 1:25 (the average across all elementary classes in Minnesota is 1:23).   Classrooms sizes this large mean that a teacher does not have time to help each child with basic life skills.

kindergarten readiness 1

Here are some of the skills that a child entering kindergarten will need.

  • Independently use the restroom and wash hands
  • Blow nose
  • Put on and zip up own coat
  • Fasten their belt
  • Fasten buttons, snaps, ties and Velcro closures
  • Use scissors
  • Hold and use a pencil, crayon and marker
  • Able to eat lunch independently: open everything in their lunchbox, eat lunch within 20-30 minutes, clean up at the end of the lunch (throw away garbage, repack reusable items, put lunchbox away)
  • Change in and out of outdoor (recess) clothing and put them away when done
  • Pack their backpack independently

In addition, if you teach your child to shower and brush their teeth and hair independently (with parental follow up, of course), it will be a time saver for you as you get your child into a routine for school.

Fostering Life Skills at Home

Creating a space that supports your child’s independence is the first step in fostering life skills at home. 
Set up your child’s home environment in a way that fosters independence.

  • Keep cups, bowls and forks within reach in the kitchen so your child can help themselves. Place a stool by the sink so your child can easily wash their hands and wash their dishes.  Allow them to be responsible for cleaning up after themselves.
  • Keep a container of water within reach and a cup so your child can drink water as needed.
  • Place snacks in containers for your child and place them in an accessible place on the countertop or in the refrigerator. Have your child practice opening, serving self, cleaning up and closing/putting them away.  Practice with common lunch box items like string cheese, milk cartons, bottles, etc.
  • Do not feed your child, instead demonstrate how they should handle a spoon, fork and knife and allow them to practice.
  • Have separate bins in the kitchen for garbage, recycling and organics, and teach your child how to separate out their waste after a meal. Many schools have these options, and so it’s helpful for your child to learn this ahead of time.
  • Bedroom: Keep your child’s clothing closet and drawers organized and accessible. A smaller wardrobe int their bedroom where you can place 2 or 3 outfits at a time helps your child not be overwhelmed by too many choices and keeps them from always pulling out the same mismatched shirt and pants.  Choose clothing that is easy for them to put on and take off.
  • Bathroom: Place a stepping stool near the bathroom sink so your child can wash hands after toileting and hands before eating, in addition to using the bathroom mirror to ensure their face is clean, and washing it, as necessary.
  • Mudroom: place a hooks at your child’s height so they have a place to hang their coat, backpack, snow pants, etc., and have a designated place for them to put their mittens, boots, and hats. Make it their responsibility to put their items back in place after they are done using them.
  • Model self-care to your child. Older siblings can do the same.
  • Ask your child to model self-care to a younger child. Teaching is learning!
young boy learning cooking at preschool

Life Skills at Sonnet Montessori

Our Montessori classrooms are rich in life skill activities, which we call “practical life”!  Practical life skills develop cognitive and physical functions which are foundational to academic pursuits, but also foster independence and responsibility.

 Here are some of the many activities which children enjoy doing in our classrooms!

  • Dressing frames: buttoning, snapping, zipping, tying, buckling and latching
  • Transfer activities: spooning, pouring, tonging, tweezing
  • Handwashing
  • Folding
  • Wiping up spills
  • Opening/closing containers
  • Fastening nuts and bolts
  • Hammering nails
  • Polishing
  • Snack preparation
  • Dusting
  • Washing dishes
  • Plant care
  • Sorting
  • Food prep: washing fruits and vegetables, slicing bananas, slicing apples, spreading toppings on bread, peeling or grating carrots, chopping cucumbers, grinding herbs, juicing oranges and lemons, using a rolling pin
  • Arranging flowers
  • Setting a table
  • Sweeping
  • Scrubbing floors
  • Putting on a coat
  • Dressing/undressing
  • Weaving
  • Sewing
young girl learning cooking at preschool

Children also learn grace and courtesy (etiquette) in our classrooms, including greeting people, making introductions, how to get someone’s attention politely, how to interrupt politely, blowing their nose, coughing and sneezing, offering help, waiting to be served, serving food to others, and using please/thank you/you’re welcome, how to communicate feelings, asking for permission, asking for help, asking someone to move, taking turns, excusing one’s self, standing in line, being attentive when someone is talking, expressing gratitude, how to communicate when they want to work alone, how to say “no”, how to work through conflict, table manners and more!


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