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Foundational Skills for Preschool Your Child Can Learn

If you’re looking for ways to help prep your child for Preschool and trying to figure out the skills they should know before preschool and kindergarten, keep reading, you’re in the right place.

Here are some of the most helpful skills, activities and other things that will help your child excel inside and out of the classroom.

6 kids laying on the ground with school books.

Foundational Skills for Preschool: Left-to-Right Tracking

I don’t know how many times I’d be chatting with my mom, a former learning disabilities specialist, about some activity in our homeschool, and she would say “Oh, that will help with left-to-right tracking.”

Now, I don’t remember as a child ever working on left-to-right tracking, but as I began homeschooling my children I quickly realized it is not a skill that comes automatically to every child.

If your child picks up on left-to-right tracking easily, consider yourself lucky! 

Left-to-right tracking is a foundational skill for reading and becomes automatic for readers over time.

When your pre-reader practices left-to-right tracking, he is learning a skill that will make reading easier and less stressful even if it comes naturally. Mazes are a great way to practice left-to-right tracking in preschool.

Learning to Write Your Own Name

Young children get very excited about the concept of writing their own names.

It’s not going to look perfect the first time, or even the five hundredth time, but helping your child recognize and copy the letters of his or her name helps prepare your child to recognize and copy all of the alphabet letters.

Copying her name is a great starting point because it’s so exciting!

toddler practicing writing skills with pencil.

Get Started with Memorization Basics

Memorization is a fantastic skill worth nurturing from a young age.

Memorizing your phone number is a great place to start.

All kids need to know mom’s phone number and how to dial it. It’s a safety net in an emergency.

Phone numbers are just ten digits, or ten number words, so memorizing phone numbers is a very basic place to start and attainable for very young kids.

You can also work on memorizing your street address and memorizing basic Bible verses.

Not long drawn out passages. Start small. Use movement techniques like jumping jacks or rolling a Tonka truck back and forth as you say each word.

This is a great list of memorization techniques for little ones that will help you get started.

Listening is a Foundational Skill for Preschool

Even the youngest of kids enjoys a good picture book.

Children benefit greatly when Mom or Dad or Grandma read out loud to them.

However, you can improve your child’s listening skills in other small ways.

Have your child practice repeating a short list of words back to you.

Start with one or two items or one or two words. Gradually increase this until you can give your child short directions and they can remember and follow through.

As a family, listen to audiobooks whenever you are in the car. Even young children will be drawn into the story and learn to listen.

This also contributes to rich language skills. The more stories your young child hears the richer will be his own use of language.

Teacher reading a story to kids and kids listening to story.
er Teacher and students reading a Christmas story together

Foundational Skills for Preschool: Rich Language

Young children learn our language at an incredibly fast pace. When my kiddos were little, I had these beautiful big flashcards with beautiful pictures on them, and I asked my kids to describe the picture or tell me a story about the picture.

When my kids were very, very little, I would ask leading questions like “What color is this ball?” We used picture dictionaries and Usborne counting books to learn lots and lots of new words, just by exploring the pages together.

Another great way to practice language skills is to have your child tell stories or describe pictures.

Have your child listen to stories and books as much as possible.

If you think your child may have a speech delay, make sure to discuss it with your Pediatrician.

Don’t Forget Fire Safety with your Preschooler

Fire Safety is taught each year in most preschool and elementary classrooms and is not something homeschool moms should ignore.

By sharing a few simple concepts with your kids and working just a little bit to make sure they understand, you could save your child’s life or your entire family.

Fire safety is not something to skip over or ignore. Talk your children through the escape routes in your home and help them come up with a plan for crawling out of the house in a fire. Plan where to meet as a family.

Practice a few times together. Look at pictures of firemen and firewomen in full gear and talk about them so that your child isn’t frightened of a friend in an emergency.

Talk about Stop, Drop, Cover, and Roll. I knew a sibling who saved his sister because he had learned this lesson well.

Read a few picture books about fire safety and watch a preschool video or two aimed at covering this topic.

If you can, visit a fire station and let the crew teach you.

That simply, your Fire Safety unit is done.

Foundational Skills for Preschool: Learn About Stranger Danger and Inappropriate Touch

This is one of those delicate topics where you don’t want to scare your kids, but you do want them to be smart and prepared when it comes to stranger danger.

A friend of mine recently told me of a time when a man approached her at a gas station in her early twenties.

“Can you help me with this car seat buckle?” he asked from inside his car. Her friend, (also in her early twenties) nearly fell for it.

When they refused, the car rushed away.

They were in their 20s! How much easier is it to quickly trick a three or four-year-old with candy, sweet talk, and cutesy behavior.

Your kids need to be on their guard and know how to respond to strangers and inappropriate touch.

Visual Perceptual Skills are a Foundational Skill for Preschool

The first time I heard about Visual Perceptual Skill Building, I was glancing through a stack of materials from Critical Thinking Press, a resource I highly recommend.

The company actually publishes a couple of books called Visual Perceptual Skill Building.

But, I quickly figured out that Visual Perceptual Skills can be practiced using a wide variety of tools.

Kids love Maze books too.

Mazes are a great example of a tool that teaches Visual Perceptual skills.

This is a skill many kids will pick up on their own, imperceptibly. However, if you work on it early through play and one-on-one problem solving you will give your child a boost by re-inforcing this necessary skill.

If your child happens to be one who struggles with visual perception, you will catch it early and have plenty of time to build the skill.

And Amazon’s Top Choice of toys to help kids develop this skill is this awesome toy:

[amazon box=”B073QFBY9L” template=”horizontal” description_items=1]

Foundational Skills for Preschool: Gross Motor Skills Practice

Gross Motor skills are skills that require large muscle movements. Skills like catching a ball, crawling, jumping, walking, and running, and even drawing big circles on a whiteboard are all gross motor skills.

These are skills most of us take for granted. On the surface, these skills don’t seem much related to learning.

However, once you’ve had a child who doesn’t learn to crawl in the normal course of things, you learn all about the importance of gross motor skills to brain development.

Climbing on a playground?

That’s good for your toddler and preschool child’s brain! Drawing with sidewalk chalk on the driveway?

Do it!

Encourage play that works out gross motor skills for your preschool child.

It’s important to note that these skills continue to develop as your child grows but a good foundation is essential.

kids drawing with sidewalk chalk.

Foundational Skills for Preschool: Fine Motor Skills Practice

Once your child has an age-appropriate mastery of gross motor skills, you can begin to work on fine motor skills.

These skills are one that controls very fine movements like the use of fingers.

Playdough, drawing, coloring, cutting and pasting, sticker placement, painting, sorting and stacking, building with blocks or legos are all play activities that hone fine motor development.

Stickers aren’t busywork if you are letting your child do all the peeling and pressing!

Again, this is a skill that will develop over time.

Your goal is to give your child a good foundation and a starting point with fine motor skills before kindergarten.

Scissor Use is a Foundational Skill for Preschool

Scissor skills work to develop fine motor skills but also work extremely well for hand-eye coordination and large muscle to small muscle coordination.

For these reasons, I’ve put scissor skills in a group by itself.

Your preschool child benefits greatly from a gradual introduction to scissors in playtime settings.

I used to give my preschoolers a stack of construction paper, scissors, and glue sticks and just let them make whatever they wanted.

I also gave them scissor worksheets with lines made for cutting and fun, colorful shapes to cut out.

We always started with loop scissors for little ones to help build hand strength, then introduced preschool scissors like these and only moved to kids scissors when the child was ready.

These are great skills to help your child prepare and feel ready for preschool.

They’re easy enough to incorporate during everyday play at home if your kid opposes the thought of school, but they’re fun ways for intuitive learning.

Kids learning with scissors in a preschool environment.
Kids at preschool. Two children drawing and painting at kindergarten. Boy and girl happy to go back to school. Toddler kid and baby learn letters at child care. Class room with chalkboard and abacus

What Are Foundational Skills?

Foundational skills are basic skills, tasks or activities that your child needs to learn when they’re developmentally ready as they will set the basics of life skills and set the foundation of things they will be learning in Preschool.

What Skills Should A Preschooler Have?

Here are some bonus skills (more than the above mentioned) your preschooler should have during preschool.

  • self dress
  • toilet training
  • ability to brush hair and teeth
  • ability to feed herself

These are some skills your child should have when getting ready to prepare for Preschool. What other ones do you think we should add to the list? Share them in the comments below!


Toddler sitting looking at book with text overlay that says How to be sure your toddler is ready for preschool this year.