One morning last week as I was driving to school, I stopped at a crosswalk to allow 7 wild turkeys to cross the road – in single file no less! I thought, “Wow…this looks exactly like a skill we are trying to teach our preschoolers. If God’s creatures can figure this out, so can we!”

At the start of each school year, we begin laying the groundwork for a successful year. We focus on basic, yet important, skills such as lining up (which can feel like herding kittens), taking turns (Science 101, the sun does not revolve around us!), lengthening their attention span (this starts in short intervals that are extended throughout the year), being a good friend and sharing (respecting others’ ideas and thoughts and sharing toys) and learning independence (such as opening lunch boxes, putting away toys and using the bathroom).

These rules and competencies that seem straightforward and intuitive to you and me are foreign and challenging to most of these children who have never been in a classroom setting. In teaching them these elementary, yet important, lessons and tasks, we are equipping them with valuable life skills that will serve them well both as students and as future employees.

As a parent, you can play a crucial role in this process of learning and development by giving your kids the opportunity to try simple tasks on their own. Believe me, I know firsthand how much easier it can be to just do things for them and how much more work it seems to be for us when we allow them to try new things on their own.

However, when we give them praise and encouragement while attempting a task, we instill in them the confidence that they need to take on new challenges and to work on their speed and progress with each new accomplishment.

Here are a few ideas that you can try at home:

  • Sorting laundry
  • Unpacking their tote when they get home from school
  • Unloading the dishwasher
  • Picking up their toys
  • Setting and clearing the table
  • Getting dressed
  • Learning independent bathroom habits
  • Understanding the morning routine and getting ready on their own

These are small tasks that can make a big difference in our children’s confidence, development and success in the classroom setting and beyond. In following the above suggestions, we are helping them to lay the foundation to be great students, employees and community members.