Five Essential Developmental Skills For Toddler & Preschoolers

The early years in a child’s life is the most important and crucial stage to build a strong foundation in different developmental areas. Children develop quickly from birth to six years olds (first plane of development) thus it is imperative to support this critical developmental stage wherein a child creates his/herself. In the early years of life (0-3), the hands or fine muscles are given an emphasis to prepare them to apply in practicing basic life skills or we call this in a Montessori method the practical life skill. As the child continues to develop, they get more adapt to complex skills like gross motor, movement and music, explorations and more! This list are created according to what I observed and tested in my own child. Of course, we “follow” the child according to their level of development and additionally they learn from their own pace. Not all two or three-year old child have the same learning ability. A two-year old can read some words while the average will start at four or five years. This is the same as learning a specific skill. I remember my Montessori instructor remind us: “Your mindset towards developing a child’s potential depends on how you fully trust their CAPABILITY to accomplish a task.”

Listed in an order from basic to more complex. Remember this, a simple small steps you apply to support your child’s potential are the most rewarding! Here’s the list I created to share to new parents and those with young kids at school or home school to help develop your child’s full potential.

Some of the links in the post below are “affiliate links.” Read my disclosure policy for more details.


Basic Life Skills or Practical Life SkillsThe Practical Life in a child’s learning is very important. This is to develop in the very young child a strong and realistic sense of independence and self-reliance. This skill made me realize that a strong foundation should be mold first in a child’s life in order for them to learn the basic life skills. Read more about practical life skills here.

Examples of basic life skills:

a. Putting on socks

b. Putting on shoes

c. Dressing

d. Drinking in a cup

e. Pouring milk in a glass

f. Washing hands

g. Brushing teeth

h. Putting on underwear and pants

g. Lacing a shoe

Egg mixing using a whisker

And the list adds up as the child learns a new skill. It is important for the parents to model each new skills to your child by letting them involve in your household chores. Young kids as early as one year old are capable to learn basic life skills. Take advantage of this.”

“A pianist therefore will have to mold himself, and his success in this will be in proportion to the extent that his natural talent will have induced him to continue his exercises. And yet one never becomes a pianist simply by practice and without the direction of the teacher.” The Discovery Of The Child

Fine Motor Skill– The term fine motor means “small muscles”. Fine motor skills involves the use of the small muscles in the fingers, hand and arm to manipulate, control and use tools and materials. Hand-eye coordination, where a person uses their vision to control the movements and actions of their small muscles, is also an important component of fine motor skill development. Fine motor form the basis for many of the skills that children will develop and enhance as they move through childhood. For infants and young children, their fine motor skills facilitate their interactions with their world, and therefore their learning. As they develop, a child’s fine motor skills are essential precursors to the development of early literacy, and self-help skills such as independent dressing and toileting. As children move through their preschool and into their school years, their fine motor skills assist them to continue to develop as well as to participate in a range of more complex activities.  Each child will develop their fine motor skills at their own pace, and they will demonstrate different strengths and abilities, depending on their interests. Read more on my article about 15 Effective Fine Motor Activities For Toddler & Preschooler.

Molding kinetic sand using hands or plastic cutter

Gross Motor and Crossing the MidlineGross motor skills that children should be supported to develop include those that involve movement of the arms, legs, hands, feet, head, neck and torso. The skills children need for optimum gross motor development include rolling, reaching, sitting, crawling, walking, climbing, balancing, running, jumping, catching, throwing and striking. These fundamental gross motor skills will assist children’s lifelong ability to participate in physical activity including sport and other recreational pursuits. My daughter loves to play outdoor almost everyday. She loves to run around the backyard, hop like a bunny and jump like a frog. We don’t have a huge play structure so I created a DIY balance beam that is made of garden bricks and a long piece of wood. This type of play promotes balance and coordination and hours of active play outside. Read more about ideas on gross motor.

img_6044-1I use a DIY balance beam here that touches the ground. The edge are rounded so it gives a little bit of challenge for her.

Nature Explorations and Educational ToursExperiences are always the best teacher right? Planning for an activity such as nature walk, a visit at the kid’s museum, visit to the zoo, reading books in the local library, gardening, volunteer jobs along with your kids, opens an opportunity for a child to learn through experiences. They gain better understanding with the living things around them and the active involvement in the community provides personal achievement and pride.


Music and Movement“Research studies shows that a preschooler who took  music lessons performed better on spatial and temporal reasoning task.” The same effects on infants when they engage in music. According to studies, when children learn to play an instrument, they gain the ability to hear and process sounds that they wouldn’t hear without training. The brain’s auditory system is stimulated by music and the system is also engaged in general sound processing. This is essential to reading skills, language development and successful communication. Every active child loves to play musical instruments followed by dancing. We normally see babies and toddlers who hears an upbeat music suddenly throws her arms and try to jive with the sounds. Read more about music and movement article.

I hope this simple guide will be your inspiration as you walk through on your child’s developmental stages. Follow me on instagram, pinterest and facebook for more inspirations, tips and guides about parenting, homeschooling and Montessori method of learning and so much more!


First Plane Of Development

The Planes of Development

The Four Planes Of Development