Preschoolers are working to complete tasks and routines with increasing independence

Girl signing her name

At A Glance

Preschoolers are increasingly able to take responsibility for their self-care. They may be more aware of personal hygiene (e.g., the need for clean hands, bodies, and teeth) and more independent during daily routines and safety practices. They are also learning when and how to ask for help. Educators can support self-care skills by encouraging children to take responsibility for themselves whenever possible while providing enough support to complete the tasks (e.g., handwashing visuals, songs, etc.).

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at how you can support preschoolers' self-help skills

Use Visuals

Visuals, like this handwashing chart, lead children through steps to help them complete tasks as independently as possible.

Support Independence

Young children can be self-sufficient when given the chance. Note how this educator reminds children how to take care of their dishes after a meal.

Promote Helping Others

Supporting children to help themselves or others, like in this video, gives them the opportunity to use their use self-care skills.



Written and illustrated by Julie Morstad, this book showcases the many different choices a child might make throughout their daily routines.
Today Book inside page
Pigeon Needs Bath Cover


The Pigeon Needs a Bath

Written and illustrated by Mo Willems, this book shows the journey of a silly and reluctant pigeon as  it learns to have fun washing and getting clean.


Regression of Self-Care Skills

Trauma may cause children to show a regression of self-care skills. This article provides simple strategies for developing a safe learning environment to support children’s self-help skills.


Supporting Self-Care at Home

This article explains the importance of self-care skills, how they develop, and ways to help children strengthen their skills in any setting – at school or at home.


Backward Chaining

Learning new routines can be frustrating for children. This tip sheet from NHS Greater Glasglow and Clyde outlines simple steps for using the backward chaining technique to teach children new self-care skills. 

Activity Cards for Preschool Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways to foster self-care
Activity Card - Classroom Helper - Regulate Move
Take on tasks

Classroom Helper

Allow children to take on tasks to help keep the room clean and organized.

Activity Card - I Can Do It Charades - Regulate Move
Take a Guess

I Can Do It! Charades

Turn self-care routines into a fun guessing game.

Activity Card - Safety Scenarios - Regulate Move
Act it Out

Safety Scenarios

Practice important routines using puppets, dolls, or figurines to help children understand how they can stay safe.

Activity Card - Wash Your Hands - Regulate Move
Sing it

Wash Your Hands

Handwashing songs are a great way to help children know how to perform this task.


Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of the Core Skills