Essential Self-Care Skills for Kindergartners

Essential Self-Care Skills for Kindergartners

Some of the skills that kids use most in kindergarten don’t have anything to do with letters, numbers or even making friends. Instead, they are self-help skills like being to put on your own jacket or to remember to wash hands after using the bathroom.  These may seem pretty basic but, during the preschool years, adults often help kids with a lot of these things. While there will still be adults to help in kindergarten, there are a lot more children. So the more prepared your child is to help himself, the more likely it is that he’ll get to finish all of his lunch or have more time to play at recess.

Today we present some of the self-help skills that kids will need in kindergarten and some fun ways to practice them.

  • Being able to button, zip up, and fasten clothes. By age 5, most children should be able to button and zip up their own clothing while they are wearing it. This is especially important during the fall and winter when 20+ kindergarteners all have to get ready to go outside for recess. But buttons and zippers can sometimes be difficult for little hands (or even for big hands). If your child has trouble with these, here are some things that you can do to help get ready for kindergarten:
    • Have your child practice with the buttons and zippers on his clothes when he is not wearing the clothing.
    • After your child masters the fasteners when she is not wearing the clothes, practice when she is wearing them.
    • If a zipper pull is small or hard to pull up, attach a piece of ribbon or string to make it easier for your child.
  • Being able to open lunch/snack containers, like Ziploc baggies, sandwich boxes, snack bags, juice boxes, and milk cartons.
    • If you pack your child’s lunch, make sure that he can open all of the containers that you put into the lunch box. Help him practice with these before the first day of school. If your child needs some help with coordination, check out these fun activities specifically designed to help with opening lunch packaging.
    • If you child is getting lunch at school, chances are that he will get milk in a carton. These can be hard for adults to open! So buy some cartons of milk and have your child practice. Watch this video for an alternative technique to use if your child is having a lot of trouble opening his milk.
    • The straws on juice boxes can be surprisingly hard to unwrap and stick into the box. Practice at home and make sure that your child can do these things on her own before you add a juice box to the lunch box. A thermos can be a great alternative!
  • Being able to use the bathroom, flush the toilet and wash hands. Kids can get really caught up in whatever is going on in the classroom and they may be in a hurry to get back to their activities. So they might forget essential steps of the bathroom process. Practicing at home can help strengthen these habits. This also relates to being able to undo fasteners like zippers on clothing. If there is a piece of clothing that your child really has trouble unfastening and it could get in the way of a bathroom routine, consider not wearing that clothing to school.

These are a few essential self-care skills that you can practice with your child to make your kindergartener’s school day easier. And your child’s teacher will thank you, too!

Image: © Photodiane | Dreamstime.com

Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.

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