3 Important Life Skills That Your Preschooler Can Learn From Play and Games

Girl Playing Ring TossYou are your child’s very first teacher and are therefore challenged with teaching more than just the basics like how to ride a bike and tie a shoe. You also face the task of teaching the life skills that will enable your child to be a productive and skilled adult. But don’t let that overwhelm you! Luckily, there are many ways to teach your preschooler these necessary skills. Playtime is where kids begin to learn about the world around them and where they pick up the life skills that will enable them to be productive and skilled adults. Here are three life skills your preschooler can learn from play and games.

Social Responsibility

Boy Playing Can Toss

Social responsibility is just one of many life skills your preschooler can learn from play. Playing house offers hours (and sometimes days) of great fun and helps teach children social responsibility. Give your children a bit of space in the house and equip them with “tools” like blankets, sheets, boxes and even colorful, plastic kitchen items such as saucers and cups. Then let their imagination take over while they make their own little homes or business. 

Children will take on roles of those they observe the adults in their lives doing every day. Use this opportunity to teach your child about adult roles and responsibilities like groceries or recycling. Talk to them about things like recycling (for example,  explaining “we’re recycling these boxes and using them as toys” or “let’s make a container for your house so you can recycle”).


Boy Playing Ping Pong Toss

Self-discipline is something that’s a challenge for all adults. Learning this essential life skill early gives your child a great advantage as they prepare for grade school.

For preschoolers, obviously, we don’t need to worry so much about the big, worrisome, adult things like budgets and work ethic. But they are at a great age to learn basic self-disciplinary skills like sharing, getting ready for school on time or how to settle down or not talking at inappropriate times.

Even though it’s a big skill, start small with fun games like Freeze Dance. When we hear the music in this simple, fun dancing game, we dance like no one’s watching! When the music stops, everybody freezes.  It’s super fun and we even get the added aerobic benefits. If that one isn’t for you, check out these fun alternatives:


Boy Playing Duck Pond

Independence is another one of the important life skills your preschooler can learn from play. Working in teams is a critical component of the success of continuing education as well as most jobs. 

Create opportunities for your child to play with other kids by organizing for play dates or go outside to the neighborhood park.  As they play, encourage and remind them about working together and look for opportunities to teach your child. For example:

  • If another child is struggling with a game, take the time to explain to your child how they might be able to help.
  • If you hear anyone being negative, encourage your child to look for the positive. Even point out, either by example or discussing it, opportunities to encourage or praise other children.
  • If your child isn’t sure how to do something, encourage them to seek help from another child. This can help them feel comfortable seeking guidance, how to let others lead, and how to follow advice.

Not only do these examples help teach children the valuable life skills of teamwork, self-discipline and social responsibility, but they also build a child’s self-esteem. Take the time to play some of these games regularly to strengthen both your child’s skills and the bond between you.

Parent Resources

There are so many life skills your preschooler can learn from play, and just as many games groups of children can play together. Brescia University has a great list of team building games for children including:

  • Minefield
  • Fingertip hula hoop
  • Group jump rope
  • Don’t wake the dragon
  • Human knot.

For more on each school:

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