Essential Life Skills Every Preschool Child Must Have

Learn why Essential Life Skills matters to Your Preschooler

As a parent, you want your child to grow up to be confident, independent, and well-rounded. One of the best ways to help them get there is by teaching them essential life skills.

But what are these life skills? And why are they so important for your preschool-aged child?

Essential life skills are an important part of a child’s growth and development. They help children to navigate everyday life, be independent, communicate well, and learn to solve problems. As a parent, you can help your child develop these skills by creating opportunities for them to practice and grow, modeling good behavior, and engaging in open communication.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the different types of essential life skills, their importance, and ways you can help your child develop them. We’ll also provide tips on how to find the right preschool to support your child’s growth and development.

Join us now as we delve into the world of essential life skills for preschool children!

What are Essential Life Skills?

Life skills are abilities that allow individuals to effectively navigate and manage various aspects of their lives. They are considered essential for personal growth and success, and can be learned and developed through education, training, and practice.

Here are the top 10 essential life skills that experts agree are important for everybody — young children, teens, youths and adults alike — to develop and strengthen:

  1. Problem solving: learning how to find solutions to challenges and obstacles.
  2. Critical thinking: being able to evaluate information and make good decisions.
  3. Communication: being able to express oneself clearly and effectively.
  4. Decision-making: being able to choose between different options.
  5. Creativity: thinking outside the box and coming up with new ideas.
  6. Interpersonal skills: being able to get along with others and build relationships.
  7. Self-awareness: understanding one’s own thoughts and feelings.
  8. Empathy: understanding and caring about the feelings of others.
  9. Coping with stress: managing difficult emotions and situations.
  10. Emotional regulation: being able to control one’s emotions and reactions.

Organizations like UNICEF, UNESCO, and WHO have identified these skills as being essential for children to learn to be successful in life. While they may have their roots in early childhood, these competencies need to be developed through life.

For a young child in the preschool age group, there are eight essential life skills that we consider vital to their development:

  1. Communication: the ability to express themselves effectively and to understand others with both verbal and non-verbal communication methods.
  2. Self-care: the ability to take care of their own physical and emotional needs, such as dressing oneself, brushing teeth, and managing emotions.
  3. Problem-solving: the ability to find solutions to problems through critical thinking and creativity. Naturally, this will vary depending on the age of the child.
  4. Social skills: the ability to interact and build relationships with others, including sharing, taking turns, and understanding social cues like helping others in the same team.
  5. Emotional regulation: the ability to manage their emotions in healthy ways, such as by understanding and expressing their feelings, and coping with difficult situations.
  6. Self-control: the ability to control impulses, delay gratification, and make responsible decisions.
  7. Creativity and imagination: the ability to think outside the box and come up with new ideas.
  8. Physical coordination and fine motor skills: the ability to use the body and hands effectively, such as for writing, drawing and other tasks.

To develop these life skills in your young child, you need to weave them into your everyday parenting activities. This should be supplemented by a quality preschool education.

Why are Essential Life Skills Important for Your Child?

Is there a need for your child to be equipped with life skills at an early age? Most definitely!

Essential life skills are important for preschool-aged children because they provide a foundation for their future development and well-being. These life skills help to also improve your child’s executive function, setting the foundation for the rest of their lives.

Let us look at five ways in which essential life skills matter.

1. They promote independence and self-sufficiency

Life skills such as self-care and problem-solving can help your children to become more independent and capable of taking care of themselves. This not only gives them a sense of confidence and self-esteem — it also sets the foundation for positive life habits.

2. They foster social and emotional development

Social skills, emotional regulation, and self-control are vital skills for children to acquire at an early age. These abilities help them to interact effectively with others and navigate the social world around them.

3. They prepare children for school

Life skills like communication, problem-solving, and creativity are important for success in school. Children who have developed these skills are more likely to be engaged in learning and to have the ability to take on more complex tasks.

4. They provide the foundation for future success

Essential life skills form the foundation for later life skills. They help to establish your child’s future success in areas such as education, work and relationships.

5. They promote overall well-being

Life skills such as self-care, emotional regulation, and self-control can help children learn how to take care of their own physical and emotional needs, which can lead to better overall well-being. Such skills can carry them through all the way to adulthood.

6. They help to develop a child’s executive function skills

Essential life skills are also important as they help to lay the foundation in developing your child’s executive functions. These are the mental processes that help them to plan, focus their attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.

In this regard, preschool forms a crucial period for your child’s development. Providing opportunities for them to learn and practice essential life skills can have a positive impact on their futures.

How to Develop Essential Life Skills in Your Child

There are various ways to develop essential life skills in your child.

Here at Shaws, we advocate parents to use an age-by-age approach, equipping your child with the right life skills depending on their readiness.

Toddlers (2 Years Old)

At two years old, your little one is full of energy and ready to learn new things! One of the most important things for them to learn at this age is how to use their body and hands.

Here are some fun and easy ways you can help them develop their gross and fine motor skills:

Clean up time! Help your child learn to pick up their toys and put them away. Show them how to hold the toys and walk to the toy shelf to put them back. This will not only teach them about tidiness, but help with their balance and movement.

After meal helpers: Encourage your child to help you by carrying their plates to the sink. This will help them develop their balance and movement. Remember to be patient if they drop something — encourage them to try again.

Getting dressed: Help your child learn to undress themselves by guiding them through the process. Show them how to pull down their pants and skirts, and they’ll gradually learn to do it on their own.

Brush, brush, brush: Teeth brushing can be tricky for toddlers, so they’ll still need your help. Hold their hand and guide them while brushing their teeth, and use this opportunity to teach them about numbers by counting the strokes.

Clean hands: Show your child how to wash their hands by turning on the faucet, lathering their hands with soap, washing between their fingers, rinsing and wiping dry. Starting to wash their hands early is a great way to teach them about hygiene.

Hair care: Help your child comb their hair each day by setting a routine hair-combing session in front of the mirror. Let them hold the comb and guide their hand when combing from the crown of their head downwards. This will teach them about grooming and self-care.

Nursery 1 (3 Years Old)

Your 3-year-old is growing up fast! From being a toddler in playgroup, they’re now in nursery class.

At this age, they’re working hard to improve their motor skills. They’re probably starting to dress themselves, and you can give them more chores to do, even if they don’t want to!

  1. Swimming lessons: Swimming is a really important skill for kids to learn. It’s not only fun — it helps them to build confidence, improve gross motor skills, and coordination.
  2. Trike time: Riding a tricycle is a great way for your child to develop their gross motor skills and prepare for riding a bicycle.
  3. Bed-making: Getting your child to make their bed in the morning can give them a sense of pride and help them learn to be organized. They might not be able to fold the blankets perfectly yet, but they can still straighten them out and put the pillows on top.
  4. Table setting: Mealtime is an important routine for families. Help your child feel involved by having them put their bowl, cup, and utensils neatly on the table.
  5. Clean up: Spills happen, and it’s important to teach your child how to clean them up. Show them how to identify the spill and guide them through the process of cleaning it up.

Nursery 2 (4 Years Old)

Your child has grown so much in just one year! Their eyesight is better, which means they can coordinate better, read and recognize things easier. Their minds are also growing quickly, and they’re like little sponges soaking up information.

At this age, they can become your little helpers around the house and are ready to start remembering important names and numbers.

Here are some fun and age-appropriate ways to involve your 4-year-old in helping out around the house:

  1. Carrying and sorting groceries: Involve your child in family chores by having them carry groceries home and help sort the fruits and vegetables. This will help them learn to identify different types of fruits and vegetables, and will also give them a sense of pride in helping out.
  2. Gathering the laundry: Now that your child has learnt to send their clothes to the wash, they can also help bring in the clean clothes. Get your little helper to gather the clothes and sheets and to place them neatly at a designated spot.
  3. Upgrading swimming skills: Once your child has become more familiar with water, work towards leveling up their swimming skills. This gives them greater water confidence in the pool while you supervise and join in the fun!
  4. Cleaning bookshelves: Encourage your little ones to be tidy by having them take ownership of their room’s cleanliness. Start them off by guiding them to dust easy-to-reach spaces on their cabinets and shelves.
  5. Learn home address: As your child’s ability to remember grows, start familiarizing them with their home address. This will be helpful in situations where they are separated from you.
  6. Learning both parents’ names: Beyond recognizing you as papa or mama, familiarize your child with your full name. Once again, this knowledge will come in handy if they get lost.
  7. Learning at least one parent’s phone number: Get them started on remembering your phone number. To help them out, you can create a little song with rhyme – rhyming has been known to help people recall information better.

Kindergarten 1 (5 Years Old)

Your five-year-old is ready for big things! They’re moving on to kindergarten and learning new, more complicated skills and taking on more responsibilities.

Here are some fun and age-appropriate ways to help them grow:

  1. Bike riding: It’s time to take off those training wheels! Learning to ride a bike is a skill that will stay with them for life and it helps with hand-eye coordination, movement and balance. Be prepared for falls and always respond with a hug and a kiss.
  2. Swimming: Your kindergartener should be able to swim on their own now, with you supervising from the side of the pool. Consider teaching them more complex swimming strokes to move around the pool.
  3. Folding clothes: After gathering the laundry, your child can learn to fold their own clothes and put them away neatly.
  4. Showering: Shower time can now be a fun and collaborative activity. Guide your child in showering themselves, focusing on rinsing and scrubbing. Be there to put the shampoo and shower gel in their hands.
  5. Learning to tie their shoes: Shoes with laces are a fun way to teach your child fine motor skills and it’s a skill that will stay with them for life! They may need some guidance at first, but with a little practice, they’ll be able to tie their shoes like a pro.
  6. Emergency numbers: Teach your child important numbers such as 999 (police emergency hotline) and 995 (medical emergency hotline), and the phone number of a trusted family member or friend. This way, if they ever get lost or need help, they’ll know who to call.
  7. Performing basic grooming: Your kindergartener should be able to brush their teeth, comb their hair and wash their faces on their own now. Do a quick check to make sure they’re doing a good job and it will encourage them to take more responsibility for their own grooming. And remember, have fun with it!
  8. Washing and drying dishes: Your child is a big kid now and can be entrusted with bigger tasks such as washing dishes. Place a stool by the sink if they are unable to reach the tap. Remember to be patient and forgiving with accidents!

Kindergarten 2 (6 Years Old)

Your kindergartener is growing up and getting ready for big things! As they get ready for primary school, it’s time to give them more responsibilities and help them build confidence.

Here are some fun ways to help them prepare:

  1. Pouring juice or milk: Guide your child to pour a drink into a cup, it’s a great way to practice hand-eye coordination and it can also be a part of the daily meal preparations.
  2. Making a sandwich: If your child is craving a snack, get them to prepare it themselves! They should be able to follow you step-by-step and make their own sandwiches. Just be prepared for some kitchen messes!
  3. Showering independently: Your child should be able to shower by themselves and no longer require supervision. Make sure to put the shower essentials within their reach!
  4. Making their own bed: Your child should be able to make their own bed, folding the blanket and placing it neatly at the foot of the bed, with their pillow at the head.
  5. Understanding time: Teach your child about time, so they can tell what time of day it is and learn how much time they need to finish their tasks.
  6. Understanding money: Teach your child about money, so they can understand how to spend and save their allowance.
  7. Cleaning themselves after using the bathroom: Prepare your child for primary school by teaching them how to clean themselves after using the bathroom.
  8. Washing and drying dishes: Your child is a big kid now and can be entrusted with bigger tasks such as washing dishes. Place a stool by the sink if they are unable to reach the tap. Remember to be patient and forgiving with accidents!

What to look for in an Essential Life Skills Curriculum

Learning life skills at home is important. However, your child’s capabilities will develop a lot faster if they’re immersed in a preschool environment that focuses on such skills.

When looking for a preschool that teaches essential life skills, parents should look out for the following:

1. Curriculum Focused on Life Skills

The curriculum of your preschool should include activities and lessons that focus on developing the core life skills listed above, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication.

2. Teaching approach

Have a look at the pedagogical approach adopted by the preschool. Life skills are best taught through role-modelling. The school should also use a hands-on, experiential approach to learning, rather than rely solely on lectures and rote memorization.

3. Classroom environment

The preschool classroom should be set up in a way that encourages children to be independent, active learners, with plenty of opportunities for exploration and experimentation. It should provide adequate spaces for both outdoor and indoor play.

4. Qualified and experienced teachers

Your child’s preschool teachers should be qualified and experienced in working with young children, and trained in teaching essential life skills.

5. Parental involvement

The school should have an open-door policy and encourage parental involvement in their child’s education, including regular progress reports and parent-teacher meetings.

When screening through the curriculum of a preschool, parents should take note of the following:

    • The curriculum should focus on the development of essential life skills, not just academics
    • The curriculum should cover the core life skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills
    • The curriculum should have a hands-on, experiential approach
    • The curriculum should have a balance of child-centred and teacher-directed activities
    • The curriculum should also have opportunities for children to work independently and in groups.

Additionally, you should visit the school, observe how classes are conducted, and talk to the teachers to get a better sense of the school’s approach to teaching essential life skills.

How Shaws weave Essential Life Skills Training to Our Children

Want your child to pick up age-relevant essential life skills and apply them every day? Consider Shaws Preschool!

Our play-based preschool curriculum is specially tailored to equip your child with the right essential life skills to succeed in life. Here are some of the main life skills that we cover:

  1. Environmental Awareness: We teach kids how to take care of the planet through recycling, composting and learning about different animals and plants.
  2. Self Confidence: Our teachers give children opportunities to lead activities and make choices to boost their self-assurance.
  3. Initiative & Entrepreneurship: We encourage children to come up with their own ideas and projects, and teach them how to turn their ideas into reality.
  4. Curiosity & Imagination: We spark children’s curiosity by providing open-ended activities and materials for them to explore and imagine with.
  5. Effective Oral and Written Communication: We help children learn how to express themselves clearly and effectively, whether it’s through speaking or writing.
  1. Empathy: We teach kids how to understand and care about the feelings of others through role-playing and discussions.
  2. Collaboration: We teach our children how to work well with others by having them participate in group activities and projects.
  3. Creativity, Critical Thinking & Problem Solving: We help children develop these skills by providing them with challenging activities and open-ended materials that encourage them to think outside the box.
  4. Adaptability: We teach children how to be flexible and adapt to new situations through various activities and challenges.
  5. Technology Readiness: We help children learn how to use technology safely and responsibly through age-appropriate activities and lessons.
  6. Self Regulation: We teach children how to control their emotions and reactions through activities such as yoga, deep breathing and mindfulness.
  7. Grit & Resilience: We teach children how to persevere through challenges and setbacks by providing them with opportunities to practise and develop this skill.

All these pointers above are not just words — they form the core of our curriculum and how we approach teaching. When your child is with us, they will be learning these skills through fun and engaging activities, and you will see the progress in them as they grow.

Find out more by getting in touch with us here. You can also email us at olive@shaws.com.sg or call us at +65 9772 4035

Key Takeaways:

In conclusion, essential life skills are important for children to be able to navigate the world around them and to be successful in their future. It is important to choose a preschool that focuses on an age-appropriate evidence-based curriculum for teaching these skills.

You should also incorporate such training into your everyday activities and routines as a parent. Make it a part and parcel of your family life.

At Shaws, we believe in the importance of teaching children essential life skills from an early age, in order to set them up for success in the future. Consider enrolling your children

Wonder what life skills to teach your little ones at different ages?

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