Teaching Practical Life Skills in Your Homeschool Preschool

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I am really excited about this 5-day series I am starting on my site this week. This week we will be looking at 5 Days of Tot-School & Preschool ideas for your homeschool.

Here are the topics we will be covering this week:

So before you start wondering if I am sitting my toddler down to do 2 hours of tot-school each day, let me assure you that tot-school is ANYTHING but sitting down and doing “school work”. Tot-school simply means that you are providing fun and engaging activities for your toddler to participate in that provide learning experiences, but are not “school work.”

All children under the age of 6 are in a hands-on learning phase; they do more learning through their hands than with their eyes. So that means toddlers and preschoolers need to up and MOVING and exploring their world in hands-on ways! Tot-school is simply the formal word used to describe this.

Tot-school (typically ages 1-3) can be as involved or laid back as you want it to be. I tend to be somewhere in the middle. I like things that are fun and require some set-up, but I also like things that are easy to do.

Today we are going to talk about practical life skills.

Practical Life Skills for Toddlers & Preschoolers

What are practical life skills?

Basically any type of skill your child needs in order to perform day to day skills are life skills. Some of those things could include:

  • Getting dressed
  • Brushing teeth
  • Toileting
  • Fixing their own meals or snacks (Opening containers, spreading ingredients, pouring liquids)
  • Cleaning up after themselves

The main thing to remember with practical life skills is to have things accessible for your toddler or preschooler to be able to use.  

Also remember to have as many things as you can within eye-level of your child. It may mean you need to do some rearranging, but it will help to encourage independence in your child's day to day life.

Here are some ideas of how you can do this in your home.


  • Have a stool next to or close to the sink so you child can independently wash their hands.
  • Have your child's toothbrush and toothpaste within reach so they can brush their teeth.
  • Include a towel and washcloth within reach.
  • Encourage your child to wash themselves in the tub or shower.
  • Have a hairbrush or comb within reach


  • Have clothing that your child wears often within reach
  • Allow your child to pick out their own clothing and get dressed, only with assistance as needed
  • Have your child's favorite toys, books, within reach and accessible.
  • If your child is still in diapers, have diapers and wipes within reach so your child can get those items when they need changed.


  • Have a specified area where your child has their own eating utensils, plates, cups etc. where they can reach them.
  • Have snacks (either prepared ahead of time or easy to prepare) in the lower area of your fridge.
  • Include a child size broom, mop, or other cleaning items accessible for your child to assist in cleaning.
  • Include your child in as much food preparation as they are able to.

Living Room/Play Area

  • Have a space for all your child's favorite toys at eye level and attractively laid out. (We use a bookcase that is laid on it's side and all our activities are on those shelves in the living room)
Montessori Shelves for Star Themed Week
  • Have a designated play area in your house.

For us, that play area is the living room/dining room area, with our shelves in one corner of the room. She also has a small child size table and chairs that she can use when she wants.

We are also still working on the bedroom area in our house. Mommy is waiting to get her new home office, so E will be switching to the guest bedroom and my office and her future homeschool room and craft room will go in her now bedroom. So I am waiting on that to organize her bedroom when we move it.

Many of these activities and ideas are inspired by the Montessori style of learning. You can read more about Montessori style learning from Montessori from The Start on Amazon.

You can also get many more ideas from my Homeschool Preschool and All Things Montessori Pinterest boards.
Follow Heather G. | Golden Reflections Blog's board All things Montessori on Pinterest.

Follow Heather G. | Golden Reflections Blog's board Homeschool Preschool Ideas on Pinterest.

You can find all of the posts in this series here:

Heather Greutman, COTA

Heather Greutman is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant with experience in school-based OT services for preschool through high school. She uses her background to share child development tips, tools, and strategies for parents, educators, and therapists. She is the author of many ebooks including The Basics of Fine Motor Skills, and Basics of Pre-Writing Skills, and co-author of Sensory Processing Explained: A Handbook for Parents and Educators.

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  1. All great tips! Great idea to do the bookcase sideways. We do some of these things, but I need to get better with her organizing her closet for her to access.

  2. Love your bathroom tips. I never thought about letting them brush their hair. Pinned and stumbled!

  3. Yes, when we switched bedrooms, I plan on totally redoing my daughter’s closet too!

  4. These are all good ways to begin teaching life skills!

    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  5. Stephanie says:

    My son is three years old, non verbal, but is high functioning all the same. I do my best to teach him the little things – it’s hard even to potty train him – but he’s now able to pour his milk, has started to pull up his clothes, and goes to the fridge to get his own snacks. Now that he is going into preschool I see that these ideas are wonderful, and I am definitely going to share and save. I found this post at http://affimity.com/#/sharedPost/6/9960, and I’d like to show other mommas in my friendship circle and family. I know he has his issues, but independence is so important!

  6. I have a 7 yr old and 4 yr old and this summer I am keeping my sisters 4 children, ages 7, 6, 4, and 2. these are some good ideas to help throughout the days and teaching all of them some life skills.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER: Heather Greutman is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.
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