Skills That All Small Children Need to Develop

In today's article, you'll discover the skills that all small children need to learn for a good all-around development.
Skills That All Small Children Need to Develop
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

The first 6 years of a child’s life is the time when they develop all their fundamental skills. But what are the skills that all small children need to develop and how can parents help them in their development? Below, you’ll find the answers to these questions.

Early childhood learning

Do you know if your child’s really getting the stimulation they need in every area of their development or just the most important ones? There are certain activities that all parents expect their children to do on a regular basis.

Some parents think that if children come home with numbers, letters, and other academic concepts conquered, that’s more than enough. But nothing could be further from the truth.

In reality, child development is a complex puzzle consisting of multiple skills that all small children need to develop simultaneously. For example, to learn what numbers really mean, a child must have developed a solid concept of numbers through play.

A toddler sitting at a table playing with memory cards.

To learn letters and their sounds in a meaningful way, a child must have highly developed visual and auditory perception skills. Without these, reciting numbers and letters becomes just a matter of memorizing sounds that have little value.

You may wonder if you’re really helping your children develop all of these necessary skills. But first, you must know their order to know how to help your kids properly.

Parents can absolutely teach all of these skills and supplement what their children are learning in school. The best part, though, is that every activity can and should be play-based.

The difference with regular playtime is that some games will have a specific purpose. For example, you might choose an activity that works specifically for balance, auditory memory, or the concept of numbers.

Then, you’ll discard workbooks and formal activities and look at skills that need to be developed through actual play during their early years.

Skills that all preschoolers should develop

Before your child’s ready for formal learning, they must develop all of the following:

  • Visual perception. Visual perception’s the ability to interpret what the brain sees. This is a very important skill for learning to read, write, and do math, and should be developed between the ages of 3 and 7. Visual perception includes visual discrimination, visual memory, shape perception, and visual analysis and synthesis.
  • Auditory perception. Auditory perception is the ability to interpret and give meaning to sound. It’s important for reading, spelling, and language development. Auditory perception includes auditory discrimination, auditory memory, auditory perception of foreground and background, and auditory analysis and synthesis.
  • Auditory skills. This includes auditory perception, but also the ability to understand and follow instructions. Learning to listen is a very important skill, not only for learning to read but also for coping with all aspects of education.
  • Ability to speak. Language involves listening and speaking. Children must develop their speaking skills to learn to read and write, understand the world, convey information, socialize, express feelings, and play. Well-developed listening skills are a prerequisite for developing good speaking skills.

More skills that all children should learn

In addition to those mentioned above, it’s also important for them to develop skills such as:

  • Gross motor skills. Children develop their large muscles before their small muscles. The early years of a child’s life should be filled with opportunities to develop these gross motor skills.
A mother playing with her child on the floor.
  • Fine motor skills. Fine motor activities develop coordination between the eyes and the small muscles of the fingers and hands. This is essential for learning to write. When preschoolers have well-developed fine motor skills, they can cut, hold a pencil between thumb, index, and middle finger, dress themselves, begin to experiment with writing, and perform other important skills.
  • Creativity and thinking skills. Creativity’s a vital skill that should be encouraged over time. It’s not just about art, but also about thinking and problem solving, skills that are necessary throughout life.
  • Emergent reading skills. Before a child learns to read, they must learn important pre-reading skills; such as rhyming, visual memory, print awareness, auditory comprehension, letter knowledge, and auditory perception (including phonological awareness).
  • Emergent math skills. Children begin to develop pre-math skills early on. These are such as an emerging sense of numbers and concepts of measure, space, and shape.
  • Emergent writing skills. Emergent writing involves the development of basic skills such as visual perception, pencil grip, fine motor skills, pattern making, and others.

In short, it’s important that the little ones at home develop all these skills to stimulate, in the right way, all areas of their development and, now that you know what they are, you can complement this learning at home while spending quality time with your children. So, what are you waiting for?


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.