Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten? The Skills Kids Need On the First Day of School

Plus, what they learn throughout the year and the resources that will help them polish those skills.
Jul 12, 2019



Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten? The Skills Kids Need On the First Day of School

Jul 12, 2019

Kindergarten is an exciting time of exploration and growth. As your child's motor coordination increases, so too will his or her sense of independence, self-reliance, and self-confidence. As the year progresses, kindergarteners will be expected to complete assignments with less outside help, accept more responsibilities, and follow rules more closely. Help support your child’s mental and educational growth at home with this kindergarten readiness guide.
Skills Often Expected at the Beginning of Kindergarten

Take a look at this list: Is there is anything you need to practice with your child before those first days of school? (We've suggested some handy tools that will help along the way.) Keep in mind that this list simply includes guidelines; the exact expectations may vary from program to program. 

  • Identify some letters of the alphabet (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Letter Town are two classic books that teach the ABCs.)
  • Grip a pencil, crayon, or marker correctly (with the thumb and forefinger supporting the tip)
  • Write first name using upper- and lowercase letters, if possible
  • Count to ten (The interactive book Ten Playful Penguins is a tactile way for kids to learn this skill — the penguins disappear one by one!)
  • Bounce a ball
  • Classify objects according to their size, shape, and quantity (Help kids build classification skills with fun lessons in the Little Skill Seekers: Sorting & Matching workbook.)
  • Speak using complete sentences
  • Recognize some common sight words, like “stop”
  • Identify rhyming words (Try these fun rhyming games with your child, or try our fun Learning Puzzles: Rhyming set.)
  • Use scissors, glue, paint, and other art materials with relative ease (Klutz activity kits are a handy way to incorporate crafting with learning.)
  • Repeat full name, address, phone number, and birthday
  • Play independently or focus on one activity with a friend for up to 10 minutes
  • Manage bathroom needs
  • Get dressed 
  • Follow directions
  • Clean up after self 
  • Listen to a story without interrupting 
  • Separate from parents easily

Don’t panic if your child hasn’t nailed everything on the list: Kids learn a lot in kindergarten. What’s more important is to wean children from relying on you to do things they could do themselves, such as zipping a jacket or tying shoes. Give your child the chance to show you what she can do — you might be in for a few surprises!

On top of making sure your little one enters the classroom with those principal skills, you’ll want to emotionally prepare him for what can be a big transition. Ease those first-day-of kindergarten jitters with these fun reads (see more books about starting kindergarten here!): 

  • Clifford Goes to KindergartenEmily Elizabeth is nervous; her first day of kindergarten is coming up, and she doesn't know what it'll be like. Will she make friends? Will she miss her mom and dad? But with Clifford by her side, Emily Elizabeth discovers just how fun kindergarten can be! 
  • Scholastic Reader Level 1: Ready for Kindergarten, Stinky Face?: Stinky Face is filled with curiosity and questions about kindergarten. "What if a hungry armadillo chases me at art time to eat my macaroni necklace?" he asks. Luckily, Stinky Face's mom has answers for all of his kindergarten questions.
  • Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes: He's the coolest, grooviest, and most school-loving cat around! Read along with Pete the Cat as he grooves all over the school in his cool school shoes. Rocking in My School Shoes comes with a link to a groovy new song that'll get your child excited for everything school has to offer!

Get Prepared Before the First Day!

Skills Your Child Will Learn During Kindergarten

Although the curriculum may vary from school to school, general goals focus on children building strong pre-reading skills, practicing letter formation, enhancing listening and communication skills, getting an introduction to basic math concepts, and acquiring an active interest in the world.

Generally speaking, your child will be expected to learn the following skills.

Language Arts

  • Recognize and write all of the letters of the alphabet in upper- and lowercase forms (Practice these skills with the Scholastic Early Learners: Write and Wipe Learn to Write book. Once your child traces the letters, wipe the book clean to start again!)
  • Write her first and last name
  • Learn sounds corresponding to vowels and consonants (Learn foundational phonics with the Scholastic Learning Express: Phonics: Grades K–2 workbook.)
  • Use initial consonant sounds and sound patterns to read words (for example, f + an = fan; r + an = ran)
  • Identify several sight words, including names of colors (The colorful Learning Mats: Sight Words makes this fun!)
  • Recognize and use rhyming words (The BOB Books: Rhyming Words helps kids through 10 mini-books and 30 flashcards.)
  • Retell a story with details
  • Put events of a story in order
  • Write simple sentences using sight words and phonics skills (The 100 Write-and-Learn Sight Word Practice Pages workbook teaches kids to write sentences with 100 sight words.)

Listening and Communication

  • Listen attentively
  • Raise hand or wait to speak (Help your child learn basic manners with Clifford the Big Red Dog in Clifford’s Manners.)
  • Act on instruction and repeat spoken directions
  • Engage in question-and-answer dialogue with classmates and teachers
  • Work as a team on projects or problem-solving


  • Sort and classify objects using one or more attributes
  • Recognize and write numbers to 30 (A numbers-oriented tactile learning mat makes this easier.)
  • Count out loud by ones, fives, and tens
  • Name ordinal numbers first through tenth
  • Add and subtract using manipulatives (cereal, candy, etc.)
  • Understand spatial relationships (top/bottom, near/far, ahead/behind)
  • Compare quantities by estimating, weighing, and measuring
  • Use graphs to gather information
  • Recognize patterns and shapes (A slice of pizza is a triangle, and a button is a circle in our Flash Cards: Colors & Shapes set.)
  • Tell time to the nearest hour
  • Count coins (Our Pretend and Play Calculator Cash Register helps kids learn to count money as they play!)
  • Recite the days of the week and months of the year (This magnetic calendar teaches that skill, plus the basics of time-management.)

Use These Resources During the School Year

Attention and Focus
Independent Thinking
What to Expect by Grade
Fine Motor Skills
Age 5
Age 4
Age 6
Early Writing
Shapes and Sizes
Child Development and Behavior
Sharing and Taking Turns
Clothes and Getting Dressed
Motor Skills
Songs and Rhymes
Early Social Skills
Early Math
Early Reading