Things Your Child Should Know Before Starting Kindergarten

You want to make sure you do everything you can to prepare your child for kindergarten.  But – what does “prepared for kindergarten” really mean in this day and age?

Before you dive into what you can teach your child to prepare for kindergarten, remember: kindergarten teachers know that children vary a lot when they start kindergarten. Kindergarten classes are designed to reach this widely varying group of kids.

Some kids will have just barely turned five while others will be almost six.  Some will recognize just a few letters of the alphabet while others will be reading short words.

Math Skills

In kindergarten children learn:

  • To count to 100
  • Count by twos, fives and tens
  • Add and subtract within five
  • Understand how to add or subtract to get to ten
  • Describe objects using measurement — the length and weight of objects
  • Learn to compare two objects — such as bigger/smaller, greater than/ less than
  • Sort and categorize objects
  • Identify shapes such as triangles, square, rectangle, rhombus, circle, pyramid, cube, prism and sphere

7 Math Skills to Teach Pre-K

  1. Verbally count to 20
  2. Get familiar with counting objects up to ten. For example, counting up to ten toys.
  3. That bigger numbers can be reached by smaller numbers (for example, when you have five toys, count them up to five.
  1. If your child has mastered counting to 20 verbally, demonstrate skip counting by twos.
  2. Talk with your child about different measurements  Show them that objects can be measured by weight.
  1. You probably already use position words when talking with your child. Call attention to them and talk about the opposite i.e. in front of/ behind,  on top/ below, next to and beside.
  2. Talk about the differences between flat shapes and solid shapes.  A flat paper circle, compared to a ball, a square compared to a block.

Reading Skills

In kindergarten children learn:

  • The full upper and lower case letters of the alphabet and the sounds each letter makes.
  • How words are read: from left to right, and top to bottom of a page. That words are separated by a space, and that spoken words and represented by written letters and language
  • How to read single syllable words
  • know the long and short vowel sounds
  • to read and understand very beginner level readers ie “phonics readers” or “leveled readers’
  • To recognize the Title, Author, Illustrator, along with the front, back and title page of a book
  • Show understanding of a story by identifying the main characters, setting, and events in a story
  • Understand how the illustrations support the text in a story
  • Recognize common types of text, such as storybooks and poems

5 Reading Skills to Teach Pre-K

  1. Teach your child nursery rhymes and children’s songs to help your child recognize the patterns of language.
  2. Read a variety of different books to your child. Read them storybooks, books of rhymes and poetry, non-fiction books with facts about animals or nature, books that describe real events and situations.
  3. When reading a book, point out at least once that you read the book from front to back, trace under the words at times when you are reading, and explain that since the letters and words on the page represent the words you are reading out loud, that you read the words in the order on the page.
  4. Teach your child to sing the alphabet song
  5. Teach your child to recognize at least ten letters. A good place to begin is the letters of their first name, as they will be of great interest to your child.

What About Writing in Kindergarten?

The writing skills taught in kindergarten include:

  • using drawing, speaking, or writing to explain what happened in a story or text that was read to the child
  • use drawing, writing or speaking to explain events, such as what they did during the weekend or at an event.
  • With support, answer questions and add detail to their drawing/speaking/writing of a story or event
  • Explore using digital tools to produce and publish writing – with adult help.
  • describe familiar places, people, and settings with some help
  • work in a group to answer questions or explain an event using drawing, speaking or writing
  • Write all upper and lower case letters of the alphabet
  • Use nouns, verbs, and prepositions properly
  • Understand what a question is and that who, what, when, where, why, and how are question words.
  • Spell simple one-syllable words

5 Writing Skills to Teach Pre-K

There is a great deal of overlap between reading and writing skills in the pre-K stage. This list will be a little shorter because the reading activities above directly support pre-K writing skills.

  1. Make lots of small talk with your child.  Ask them all kinds of questions for them to think about answering
  2. Specifically ask your child questions about familiar things that have an order to them, such as “What did you do today?”  “What did you do on your play date with your friend?” you can extend this to books you have read to your child by asking them to tell you what happened in a storybook.
  3. Encourage your child to color and draw pictures. Being familiar with writing tools and knowing how to do even simple drawings will prepare them for using drawing to tell a story.
  4. Let your child use a few digital tools before attending school. Playing games on a tablet or cell phone will familiarize your child with digital media which will prepare them for the new standard of using digital media to produce and publish writing.
  5. Teach your child to write their name


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