How to Encourage Independence in Preschoolers

Preschoolers in class

The developing independence of a budding preschooler can fill teachers with both excitement and apprehension. Here are some ways to encourage preschoolers’ development in a healthy way straight from veteran teacher Renee Bryant. She taught 4-year-olds for 11 years and has been a nursery director for the past 10 years. 

According to Mrs. Bryant, preschoolers need to make progress in these five areas in order to facilitate appropriate self-reliance. 

1. Language and Communication Abilities

In addition to the 50-75 words 2-year-olds already know, a new school year is a great time to teach your students to say, “Help, please.” This gives preschoolers words to use when needing assistance. Encourage the use of sentences, such as: “I do it myself” or “Let’s go play.” A 3-year-old who expresses himself or herself in this way has progressing communication abilities and is on track developmentally.

2. Physical and Motor Skills

Preschoolers can participate in self-care. Rolling hands round and round can facilitate handwashing. Add a towel to Patty Cake and your students will have the motor skills needed for drying their hands. Preschoolers should have the balance and muscle tone to push arms into a jacket. You can help them work their way toward important milestones like these. 

3. Cognitive Aptitude

Engage your preschool students’ minds while reading. Ask simple questions or fill-in-the-blank sentences to develop their attention spans and short-term focus.

4. Social and Emotional Readiness

Build a foundation of security with your students by giving clear expectations, responding consistently, and praising each achievement. Consistency will make your preschoolers feel secure in their environment. 

5. Imaginative Play

Try out these imaginative scenarios in your classroom.

Car Wash 

  • Crepe paper strips for exit/entrance curtain 
  • Laundry basket “car” 
  • Wash rags and bubbles 


  • Preschool-friendly food: yarn spaghetti noodles and pom-pom meatballs 
  • Cotton ball ice cream scoops, brown pom-pom chocolate chips with red pom-pom cherries 


  • Sheet for a tent 
  • Cooler filled with snacks 
  • Pillowcase sleeping bag for naptime 

You can further enforce your students’ readiness skills with our Readiness Skills K4 book. It provides fun, independent activities to help them develop eye-hand coordination, listening and thinking skills, visual perception, and writing readiness. 

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