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

 

 

Self-Control

  • 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

Listening

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

 

 

Speaking

  • 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

 

 

Writing

  • 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).

 

 

Measurement

  • 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

 

 

Music/Movement

  • 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

 

 

Comments

  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.

      • Ja says

        This is what they call “First grade in Kindergarten”. Your child doesn’t “need to know” anything academic (letters or numbers) before going to Kindergarten, and there are a lot of them who never use scissors or liquid glue before Kindergarten.

        This actually looks like the checklist they used to use for graduating from Kindergarten.

        • Grandma L says

          Though a child that has to test into kindergarten because of the age cut offs has to score in the 96% on the tests. They must know all that and be able to cut shapes out. Makes no sense to me.

  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!

        • Ja says

          Kindergarten screenings are still done in most places. However, the answer’s the same for almost every kid: if your child is six years old or will be turning six soon, then they will tell you that you should (or must, depending upon the place) enroll him or her. If your child is barely five, then they will suggest that you wait, because older kids are easier for them. Even if your kid is actually a genius, they will suggest waiting.

          The only difference that the Kindergarten screening seems to make is about special education: if your child’s development is significantly slower than typical, then they’ll see whether special services are needed.

            • Grandma L says

              That’s the difference in locations I guess because here they test but make the expected grade so high they have not had anyone test into kindergarten. So the statement is probably true in her area.

  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.

  10. Candace crew says

    It says in the head of this article that every child is different and learns w either gifted or slower in skills that its just a guideline! Also not to stress as parents!? Lol
    We need to read more haha

  11. says

    I have 3points to make: 1. The people who commented on how each child is different, all learn differently and at different levels, and some have undiagnosed problems like ADHD, passengers, dyslexia,High level autism, emotional immaturity, I feel too we need to teach in schools empathy, understanding, team work, self confidence,amongst students too. Bullying starts early, and is so destructive to a child’s emotional, mental, intellectual well-being. 2, not every child is ready for kindergarten at 5 (even 6), esp. some boys), some are at 3 1/2. Readiness tests I think should be brought back to use. ( pre-kindegarten use to be effective in some districts for those children who don’t pass readiness tests. Emotional, and mental, and intellectual, readiness together. 3. Teach our children at home and teachers in school can instruct children to report bullying to teachers or parents(if is themselves), and teach children to stick up and protect those that are being bullied by reporting as soon as seen. Rules be enforced to those who bully and show and teach them to respect others rights and love each other and that they won’t be accepted by peers if behavior continues.

  12. amyindiana says

    So first off those who think its a teachers job to teach your child letters..how to write their names are just flat out stupid. Maybe its my preschool teaching background or the fact my 4year old had most of this list mastered by age 1 1/2 and is on YouTube but I’m a working mother and if you start when they are young surely the whole 10minutes a day thing will work but if you wait it might be hard I was raised taught to start at newborn because its giving the children a want and desire to have learning time ..wanting to learn instead of only playing and easier to introduce letters numbers at birth and continued teaching daily with it so “they grow up knowing it” instead of “having to learn it” at age 2 or whoever parents generally start…my sister is 9years old doing reading at 5th grade level and my mom worked with her since birth she passed 100% istep for reading and math! Now, my 7year old is lacking and hates to sit and learn but I was really chill with her learning from birth..my son I changed and did his since birth and the difference is tremendous.. My 9month old can communicate most needs and wants thru cards or signing or words. To those who are starting to teach at age 4-5 just try to incorporate it all the time and for those with babies START NOW!! (= and a teachers job is yo teach but not raise a child..quit being lazy parents get off your butts and show some care and concern you are shaping your child’s future now!!

  13. Jamie Nosalek says

    Mother of five kiddos here and I have to say take the pressure off yourselves moms. While this list can be used as a guide to give an idea of some things you could do at home, it is not the end of the world if your child hasn’t mastered every skill on the list. Really, I have found the most important thing you can instill in your child is confidence and security so when they go into a school environment they are comfortable. Most of you moms who have taken the time to read this list are already loving on your child enough to instill this confidence. All of my kids have known their letters and numbers before they started school and they learned them again when they started school. It’s not the struggle that kids go through to learn their ABC’s that make the job of a teacher difficult, it’s the lack of experience with structured activities or following rules. Just find some activities that your child loves and practice ending the activities when you say, instead of when the child is ready to. Any activity works and this will make the transition into Kindergarten smooth. Relax and enjoy your kids.

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