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 Kindergarten: Emily 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!