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What Your Child Should Know by Kindergarten

Wondering what your child really needs to know before starting kindergarten? To find out, we went to the experts, our Teacher Moms. Here's some of the great advice they shared on what you can do to get your child ready for kindergarten.

Colors, Shapes, Numbers, Letters

"The year before kindergarten is the time to learn important skills, such as tracing the shapes of letters and numbers on paper, following simple instructions, recognizing the title of a book, and matching rhyming sounds." — Ms. Whieley of Toad-ally Exceptional Learners

"I would be thrilled if my students came to kindergarten already knowing their colors, how to count to at least 10 (and not just say the numbers, it's important that they have one-to-one correspondence, meaning that if they say '5' they're actually touching the fifth object rather than saying '1, 2, 3, 4, 5!' when there are only three things being counted)." — Jennifer Knopf of Herding Kats in Kindergarten


"Read books together. Pointing to words as you read helps them learn to track as you read, differentiate words and letters and learn directionality (basic concepts of print)." — Melissa of Plug-n-Plan

Basic Self-Care

"Some basic things that can help an upcoming kindergartener. . . include basic self-help skills. By this I mean knowing how to tie shoes, bathroom care, and similar skills." — Melissa of Plug-n-Plan

Social Skills

"As a kindergarten teacher, I encourage parents to make sure they provide plenty of opportunities for their child to socialize and interact in groups of children. It can be quite a shock to a child becoming one of 20 or so, especially if they've never been a part of a large group before." — Krissy Miner of Mrs. Miner's Kindergarten Monkey Business

"Along with learning letters, sounds, numbers, and rhymes, new social experiences like taking turns and going to school for an entire day need to be considered." — Ms. Whieley of Toad-ally Exceptional Learners

Fine Motor Skills and School Tools

"Be sure to give them plenty of chances to practice and 'play' with school tools (glue sticks, drip glue, markers, scissors, etc...). Not only will these be great skills to have, but it will allow them to focus more on the learning and work involved versus how to use or just explore these items." — Krissy Miner of Mrs. Miner's Kindergarten Monkey Business

Image Source: Shutterstock
AntoniaCheek AntoniaCheek 4 years
I wish poeple would stop pushing their children at EARLY ages. While some kids have no problem with these activites they suggest, other children just aren't ready for it. So what if my 3 year old doesn't know his alphabet yet. He's 3! There's no reason 3 and 4 year olds should be taught formal school subjects yet. Let them be kids, run, explore. If you really want to teach them something, let me outside and explore the world around them. They'll get a lot more out of that then any book work at this age.
PatriciaRennhackkamp PatriciaRennhackkamp 5 years
Just felt it necessary to add: All the focus seems to be in a child's intellectual development, but I strongly believe it is the play time, the stress free fun, the laughter, this time of just being a child without pressure that helps a child develop into a balanced, emotionally strong individual. And it has been proven that emotional intelligence is significantly more important than mere IQ
PatriciaRennhackkamp PatriciaRennhackkamp 5 years
I can't help but feel little worried about how much pressure my kids will experience at even kinda level. Kids cannot be kids anymore. Even grownups are suffering burn out as a result of constant pressure to perform. Everyone and everything is forever compared to each other, little is valued for itself. While I want to present my kids with all the opprotunities I am capable of presenting them with and expose them to as much as possible, I do not require them to achieve, achieve achieve. I encourage learning and make it easy, but I do not require or force it. Right now I am letting my 3 and 4 year old play as much as possible and enjoy all the different things in life as much as possible without having them feel that they must have grasped certain lessons or concepts by now. I applaud their learning and progress, but I also applaud them for wanting to have fun and don't worry in the least if they are not in the mood to concentrate or if they have not learned all their letters yet. Soon enough the pressure will be on and they will have to perform, right now I am just trying to give them a little bit of carefree childhood and playtime which I am sure they will never have again.
AmandaGibson55780 AmandaGibson55780 5 years
I totally agree with Erin Wilson Egleston. If you don't think your child needs these skills, you are in for a complete surprise!! My 5 year old is in Pre-K this year due to her not being born before August, and I can't believe the things she is doing!! She already knew how to count to 100, her shapes and her colors, but now she's learning how to use scissors, learning Spanish and even helping the teacher with the decorative projects around the classroom. I have even gotten advice from the teacher on small things we can do at home to help her with her scissor skills. You should NEVER want your child to be behind and if there are simple things you can do at home to help them on their way, you as a loving and responsible parent should be doing those things!!!!
ErinWilsonEgleston ErinWilsonEgleston 5 years
I have a few things to say on this article and the comments pertaining to this article: 1. So many of you are saying that the items listed above are unnecessary skills for a kindergartner to have. However, in your responses, you have used no punctuation and have multiple misspellings. I think that in itself proves a point. 2. Like many, I don't think that it is necessary to push our children to learn all of these things. However, I have not pushed either of my children, aged 3 and 5, to learn any of the items listed above and they both have all of the skills mentioned. My 5 year old can count to 100, my 3 year old can count to 20 and they both understand concept counting (e.g.: when you get to 12, you're touching the 12th object). Both of my children know their full alphabet and recognize all of their letters. My 5 year old can write all of his letters and his name while my 3 year old can write about half of his letters and can kind of write his name. They both recognize certain words and can spell basic words (stop, cat, mom, etc.). The thing is, they learned all of this more or less on their own - I have not pushed them in any way. When they ask questions, I answer them to the best of my ability and give examples. All it takes to have a school-ready child is to answer questions - they are so curious at this age that the questions are endless, but so is the knowledge retention. **Steps off soap box**
CandiCordle CandiCordle 5 years
My 3 year old LOVES to learn. I've never forced anything on her but I let her come to me and ask things she wants to learn. Right now she knows all her colors, shapes, can count to 14, some small easy adding and part of her alphabet. I personally think some force way to much on kids now a days. They push kids to learn way faster than I know I ever did in school. But right now I think its ridiculous to try to force a toddler to learn so much. Heck now a days they are teaching in Kindergarten and 1st grade ect stuff I didn't get taught till 3-4th grade. She can't tie her shoes, although she does try and wants to learn how, shes just having a hard time with it. She can zip her coat when SHE wants to and she can do her pants on her own. But do I think this stuff is necessary for a 3 year old to know, no but she wants to learn it so I help her. If my 5 month old doesn't want to learn like her sister I'm fine with that. My oldest is very much into books and has been since she was a baby, where my 5 month old seems to be more active at this moment (compared to when my oldest was the same age). Each kid is interested in different things and will learn at different rates. Even myself I struggled with math severely (was even getting special help) till i was in 11th grade and it finally all clicked and now I excel in math.
DanielleRisso DanielleRisso 5 years
Honestly some of you have no idea how completely Ignorant and Arrogant some of you sound, oh well my child can do this and that and some of you ought to spend more time and they should know this and blah blah blah, let me tell you if this is the way you act outside of typing then how will you children act I certainly hope they would not hold the same attitudes, children are all different, some will know their shapes, some will know colors or at least a few, will all children be counting upwards of 10 or even to 10 NO, will they read I wouldint think so, would it hurt to have them pratice zipping and buttoning no it wouldint, I have 3 children, one in 4th one in 1st grade and one entering preschool this comming year, my 4th grader is very smart some things advanced some things not and despite this and a year of preschool our former school held her back in kindy, my 1st grader didint show signs of learning much we even brought her to early intervention and she was placed immediately into preschool and went to kindy and did fine and straight onto 1st grade and such, I have no clue what to exspect we give her as much support as we can here at home and roll with the punches as school progresses, it is what it is, most children will not be born a prodigy or a genius so let them be children, why must they grow up before their time, most of us find out in the end, all is well!
jennydevalentin jennydevalentin 5 years
My sons only 2 and a half but I think that kinda is so over rated these days I remember when I went to school u learned your numbers and colours ect when u started now your child has to know it all I think that today's soiety is putting to much pressure on kids these days I say let them be kids for as long as they can
KarenHolt79663 KarenHolt79663 5 years
Good Article!
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