Kindergarten Readiness Checklist


It's common for parents of kindergarten-aged children to feel some anxiety before their little one takes that first step into the kindergarten classroom. After all, kindergarten is a big step forward, and children are expected to develop certain skills by the time they take that step. This guide is designed to help you assess where your child stands in terms of skills and general kindergarten-readiness, and to clarify where he or she may need a little extra help before the first day arrives.

Don't worry; it's perfectly fine if your child hasn't mastered every skill outlined here. This is simply a broad overview, to help your child become as prepared as possible.

Self Help Skills

By kindergarten, children should be fully potty-trained, and should be able to independently complete the associated bathroom hygiene tasks. They should be able to independently dress themselves, including zippers, buttons, and snaps. They should also be able to say their full name and their age.

Language Skills

Language skills apply both to expressive language (speaking) and to receptive language (listening and understanding). Kindergarten children should have fairly developed skills in both areas.

In terms of expressive language, kindergarten-aged children are generally able to speak in complete sentences (typically 5 or 6 words long), and to declare their wants and needs verbally. Adults should be able to understand what they say the majority of the time. Additionally, these children should use words (rather than physical movements and actions) to express anger, frustration, and other emotions.

In terms of receptive language, kindergarten-aged children should be able to understand and follow two-step directions. They should also understand prepositions and words that describe positions in space (under, above, between, etc.).

Emotional and Social Skills

By kindergarten, children should be able to separate from their parents/caregivers without becoming terribly upset. They should have some empathic awareness (the ability to recognize what other people are feeling, and to respond appropriately). They should know basic manners (such as saying "please" and "thank you") and should use them consistently. Kindergarten-aged children should be able to wait their turn and share with other children. They should also be able to stay focused on an adult-directed task for 5 minutes or more.

Gross Motor Skills

Kindergarten-aged children are typically able to run, skip, jump (with feet together), and hop on one foot. They should be able to walk up stairs while alternating feet, and should be able to walk backwards. Additionally, they should be able to bounce a kickball, and attempt to catch it with both hands.

Fine Motor Skills

By kindergarten, children are expected to know how to correctly hold a pencil or crayon (not in a fist). Similarly, they should be able to use scissors in a decently controlled and intentional way, and should know how to carry them safely. They should be able to trace dotted lines and simple shapes, and should also be able to draw some basic shapes and figures (such as squares, triangles, or straight lines) without a guide.

Literacy and Phonemic Awareness

"Literacy" refers to an ability to understand written language; "phonemic awareness" is the ability to distinguish the individual sounds that letters represent.

In terms of literacy, kindergarten-aged children should be able to recognize printed words in their environment (such as the word "stop" on a stop sign, a familiar corporate logo, and other common words). They should be able to recite the alphabet, and should know how to correctly hold a book (knowing if the book is upside down, for instance, and where the book begins). By kindergarten, children should be able to recognize their own name when written down, and can attempt to write their own name (and other ideas) using letters and symbols. They should also be able to express an idea by drawing a picture. Furthermore, most kindergarten-aged children enjoy listening to stories, and being read to.

In terms of phonemic awareness, kindergarten-aged children should be able to identify some letters and some of the sounds they make (most kindergarten-aged children are not able to do this for the entire alphabet, especially for multiple vowel sounds). This skill may be demonstrated either from sound to letter, or vice verse. They should understand the basic concept of rhyming, and should be able to tell if two words rhyme or not.

Math Skills

Kindergarten-aged children are typically able to count to 10. They should be able to recognize and identify basic shapes and figures (square, circle, triangle, etc.), and should be able to sort items based on one or more factors. They should also know all the colors in an 8-count box of crayons, and should be able to identify them (either by pointing to them or verbally).

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