71 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before Kindergarten

Have you ever wondered what exactly your child needs to know before kindergarten?  Here is a list based upon a Preschool Inventory given to children at the very end of our local Pre-Kindergarten program.  I was looking through my old student-teaching notebook and came across this list (granted, it is six years old).  It was used as both a guiding document as well as an assessment at the end of the year.  I did not come up with this list.  


Please keep in mind as you look over this list that  kids learn best with hands-on experiences, not memorization or drill practice!  These early years with our children should be about fostering a love to play, explore, and learn!  Also, it is important to note that our children are all different and gifted in unique ways.  Obviously, if your child has special needs, exceptionalities, or is delayed in a particular area, this won’t necessarily be relevant to your child.  This is simply a guide…not something to stress about!  


Finally, all areas of development are of equal importance to young children!  Gross motor and social development tasks are just as important as cognitive and pre-reading tasks at this age.   Also, it is important to note that there is no prerequisite (besides age) for children to go to public schools here in the United States.   Although it would be ideal for each child to come into kindergarten already mastering this list, this is obviously not the reality for many children.   Schools are prepared to meet the needs of individual students, regardless of their current ability.  


Have fun learning together through games and various experiences while still encouraging your child’s natural creativity!  


Personal and Social Development  

Approach to learning

  • Shows eagerness and curiosity as a learner
  • Persists in task and seeks help when encountering a problem
  • Is generally pleasant and cooperative




  • Follows rules and routines
  • Manages transitions (going from one activity to the next)
  • Demonstrates normal activity level



Interactions with Others

  • Interacts easily with one or more children
  • Interacts easily with familiar adults
  • Participates in group activities
  • Plays well with others
  • Takes turns and shares
  • Cleans up after play



Conflict Resolution

  • Seeks adult help when needed to resolve conflicts
  • Uses words to resolve conflicts




Language and Literacy


  • Listens with understanding to directions and conversations
  • Follows one-step directions
  • Follows two-step directions




  • Speaks clearly enough to be understood without contextual clues
  • Relates experiences with some understanding of sequences of events



Literature and Reading

  • Listens with interest to stories read aloud
  • Shows interest in reading-related activities
  • Retells information from a story
  • Sequences three pictures to tell a logical story




  • Uses pictures to communicate ideas
  • Uses scribbles, shapes, and letter-like symbols to write words or ideas



Alphabet Knowledge

  • Recites/sings alphabet
  • Matches upper-case letters
  • Matches lower-case letters
  • Identifies upper-case letters
  • Identifies lower-case letters



Mathematical Thinking

Patterns and Relationships

  • Sorts by color, shape, and size
  • Orders or seriates several objects on the basis of one attribute
  • Recognizes simple patterns and duplicates them



Number concept and operations

  • Rote counts to 20
  • Counts objects with meaning to 10
  • Matches numerals
  • Identifies by naming, numerals 0-10



Geometry and spatial relations

  • Identifies 4 shapes- circle, square, rectangle, triangle
  • Demonstrates concepts of positional/directional concepts (up/down, over/under, in/out, behind/in front of, beside/between, top/bottom, inside/outside, above/below, high/low, right/left, off/on, first/last, far/near, go/stop).




  • Shows understanding of and uses comparative words (big/little, large/small, short/long, tall/short, slow/fast, few/many, empty/full, less/more.



Physical Development

Gross-Motor Skills

  • Pedals and steers a tricycle
  • Jumps in place, landing on two feet
  • Jumps consecutively- 7 jumps
  • Balances on one foot for 5 seconds
  • Hops on one foot 2-3 hops
  • Hops on one foot- 6 ft.
  • Throws a ball with direction- 5 ft.
  • Catches a thrown ball with arms and body
  • Climbs a playground ladder
  • Skips smoothly for 20 feet



Fine-Motor Skills

  • Stacks 10, one-inch blocks
  • Strings 4 1/2″ beads in two minutes
  • Completes a seven piece interlocking puzzle
  • Makes a pancake, snake, and ball from playdough
  • Grasps pencil correctly
  • Copies:  vertical line, horizontal line, circle, cross, square, V, triangle
  • Copies first name
  • Prints first name without a model
  • Grasps scissors correctly
  • Cuts within 1/4″ of a 6″ straight line on construction paper
  • Cuts out a 3″ square on construction paper
  • Cuts out a 3″ triangle on construction paper
  • Cuts out a 3″ circle on construction paper
  • Uses a glue stick appropriately
  • Uses appropriate amount of glue for tasks



The Arts

Creative Arts

  • Identifies 10 colors:  red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, black, white, brown, pink
  • Uses a variety of art materials for tactile experience and exploration




  • Participates in group music experiences
  • Participates in creative movement/dance



Creative Dramatics

  • Makes believe with objects
  • Takes on pretend roles and situations




Parents, if you’re looking for some suggestions on things you can do to prepare your child for Kindergarten, check out 33 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten.  You can download and print a list with simple, easy activities that will help to ensure your child is ready!  



Do you agree with this list?  Is there anything that needs to be added (or taken away) based on your experience???



Interested in learning more?  You might be interested in reading all about the seven domains of early childhood development and 10 tips for teaching your child to read!  



71 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before Kindergarten




  1. Karli says

    My 3 1/2 year old can’t do a lot of stuff on this list and that’s OK. I have tried to read to him everyday of his life. He doesn’t like it. He screamed as a baby, as a toddler he took the books that I tried to read him while he played out of my hands and put them on the ground, now he will listen to the books. I work with him daily on learning to count and learning his letters and he is struggling. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom or he’s a bad kid. He is just focusing on other things in his life. He rides bikes and climbs and runs around. His gross motor is great and he will get the rest of it when he gets it.

    Other moms out there who are feeling insecure because your child isn’t WAY ahead, they don’t need to be and the fact that they’re not doesn’t mean you’re not trying.

    • sukh says

      hey Karli
      I was just going to cry after reading this article, but then I read your comment. Thanks a lotttttttt.

  2. says

    As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, I couldn’t do the majority of the things on this list, and I turned out alright. I think the problem relies upon the way the general society feels people should react versus the necessary way people react all on their own. It’s a matter of functional versus emotional ability, and anything out of the ordinary is something people question and want to fix.

  3. Dana says

    Is there a way I could download this list into a PDF or Word document? I love this list and would to have it for quick access!

  4. Esther says

    I just heard the requirements for preschool went up in Ca. I heard that a child needs to know certain words too. Do you know anything about this?

    • says

      I haven’t heard this, but I don’t live in California. I will say this: there is no “pre-requisite” for children starting kindergarten at a public school. They will make the modifications necessary so that your child’s needs are met. Thanks for commenting!

  5. says

    Jenae as it is always, this write-up is also an amazing piece! Appreciate your deep thoughts, helpful for both parents and children; running an awareness program amongst society is really much appreciable. Going to kindergarten is how much painful for us, we know it exactly. Soothing factors are always welcomed. Tips given by you are seemingly more approachable and can make the guardians, children and the teachers feel better, making their job easier – On top of all, getting a child to kindergarten initially a process that should be handled with a great care, much insights and patience, because it is our little buddies who would ever want us to handle them like this; isn’t good enough?

  6. MM says

    No one cares if your two year old is ready for Kindergarten. Good on ya that they are but this list is for older children that are actually going to school soon. Why is mothering a competition? Why do we have to cut one another down? Why don’t we realize that we are all in this together and help each other out instead of belittling each other? Every child is different, every parent is different, every relationship is different, some parents work, some don’t, some are single parents, some are straight, some are gay, some are dealing with poverty, or addiction or physical or mental illness. No one has a right to make anyone feel belittled and inadequate. You have only walked in your own shoes. EVERYONE you meet is fighting their own fight. You have no idea.
    While my daughter (almost 5) is beautiful and smart and talented and will do just fine in Kinder next year, my family has been up against a lot during her short little life and it’s been way harder than I could ever have imagined. So yeah, life sometimes gets in the way of what we are “supposed” to be doing. Luckily kiddos are resilient and all they need is time and love to thrive! Keep on keepin on mamas! You are doing just fine!

  7. Candice R says

    My son is only 14 months and he does a few of these things already (knows ABCs, identifies uppercase letters (A, B, C), knows three out of the 10 colours, knows “1” and “2”, can follow simple one-step directions, holds a pencil and can write a “C”, draws , scribbles, and plays pretend, cleans up without direction, and shares well on most days! Makes me feel pretty confident that he will be ready for kindergarten!

    • Alexis says

      Very interesting, most kids can only say a few words at this age. I am very surprised that your child can say there whole ABCs and more he might be gifted

    • Rachel says

      Candice, your son is probably gifted. My 17 month old knows how to do most of this (except for cutting, glueing, etc). I had no idea until a friend of mine who teaches gifted students told me she thinks my daughter is gifted. I’m glad someone told me because there are a lot of things to learn about gifted children (they sleep less, are very critical of themselves and others, etc). That is why I’m telling you! Maybe you can read up on it.

  8. says

    I have 3 boys – one in preschool and two in Pre-K and I think that daycare (which we call school) is well worth the investment. It teaches a lot of things on this list. Not to say that moms and dads could not teach all of these things to their children, but I believe it prepares them for kindergarten and the routine of learning early.

    Great list! There are a few things on here I want to work on with my little ones, so I appreciate the ideas. http://www.awesomewriter.com

  9. Tasha says

    I found your 71 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before Kindergarten very helpful. I am a stay-at-home mom and have chosen not to send my child to Preschool due to costs. I like to think I am a patient person, and I have enjoyed teaching and going over everything with my children. My daughter will be entering Kindergarten this year and I was looking for a guideline to go over with her. This was perfect! I am very proud of how well she has done. After going over this long list, I feel very comfortable sending her to Kindergarten round-up and then Kindergarten. Thank you for posting this information.

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