My goal is for my students to be self-directed and independent learners. This is an entirely achievable goal- even in Preschool! I recall reading in a book about the pedagogy of inquiry, something to the effect of: In an inquiry classroom, the students should be working harder than the teacher. I hold this statement as a fundamental axiom.
By building a solid foundation of expectations, students can eventually take responsibility for most classroom tasks and activities. I read a good description of this gradual release of responsibility as: I do =>We do =>You do.
I build the foundation for a release of responsibility beginning the first day of school, using rhythm, repetition, and respect. By the sixth week of school, the children ought to be settled into the routine; whereupon the teacher can slowly start tasking the children to administer to many of their own learning activities.