15 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before Kindergarten

Are you wondering what your kid needs to know before kindergarten? Here are some kindergarten skills to teach your little one before school starts.

Child in Kindergarten in the classroom

When your child approaches Kindergarten, it is a moment of self-reflection.

About six months from the time my child is due to enter Kindergarten, I really sit back and evaluate…what have I done with their lives so far? Have I done enough? Have I spent enough time? Do I need to change things or do more?

Kindergarten doesn’t need to be a panic moment. A child can quickly learn these skills in Kindergarten. However, the more your child knows from this list before Kindergarten, the easier the transition will be on him.

These skills and topics may be covered in Kindergarten, but they are covered very quickly before moving on.

Your little one will be adjusting to so many new things as Kindergarten starts. The more your child is confident with before Kindergarten, the smoother the transition can be overall.

Because of that, it is very helpful to focus on these skills and concepts at home before Kindergarten starts.

15 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before Kindergarten

Here are 14 things you should focus on before your child enters Kindergarten. These things will help get your child ready to start school.

The more prepared your child is, the more confident he will feel and the smoother not only the first day, but every day will be. This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.

15 skills to know before kindergarten pinnable image.

How to Use Scissors

Before entering kindergarten, it is helping if your child can use scissors correctly.

This might seem trivial, but the teachers at my school have stressed this is one of the most beneficial things to work on with your child before school starts.

Children need to be able to use those scissors in school, and when you have a class of 20ish kids, it takes time to go through and teach them all how to hold and use scissors.

It is a small and simple thing, but if your child can use scissors going into Kindergarten, her life will be easier.

Depending on the style of preschool your child goes to (if your child goes to preschool), scissor skills might not be something you even need to think twice about.

If you want or need to work on it at home, however, I really enjoy the Kumon workbooks to help you prepare.

I have also co-authored an eBook titled Babes, Tots, and Kids that is a preschool homeschool that can be used from baby on through Kindergarten age–and we wrote it to be able to include all of your children at the same time. We have fine motor skills focus each week.

 Homeschool Preschool Cirriculum

How to Use the Bathroom Independently

Your child needs to be able to go into a bathroom, use it, pull up pants, and wash hands all independently in Kindergarten.

Some children really fight against this skill. Brinley fought against it, in large part because she is so afraid of heights that she was scared to sit on the toilet independently.

I explained to her that she had to be able to use the toilet alone or she couldn’t go to Kindergarten. She desperately wanted to go, so she worked through her fears and did it!

How to Put on a Coat/Zip Up Backpack/Etc.

Again, think through the idea of being a teacher in a class of 20ish children. What do the children need to be able to do independently?

Even in a class of 10-15 students, the whole class benefits when students can be independent.

It would take a lot of time for a teacher to pack each backpack, put each coat on, zip every jacket up, and put backpacks on every back.

Help your child learn to be independent.

How to Clean Up After Self

A teacher is not a maid.

A child needs to know how to take a napkin and cup to the garbage. A child needs to know how to put her pencil box where it goes.

A child needs to realize it is her job to take her paper scraps and put them in the recycling.

Have these realities be a part of home life, and your child will be able to naturally incorporate these skills into Kindergarten life.

Anything that comes naturally to your child will be of benefit and make the school days easier on your child.

How to Be Patient

It is not easy for a child to wait.

At all.

Many times in school, you need to wait.

It might be patience as you wait for help from the teacher. It might be patience as you wait for your favorite activity of the day to come up. It might simply be in line for the drinking fountain.

Patience is a skill that serves a Kindergartener well. We all know an impatient child can wear on your patience, so it is so nice and helpful to the teacher if the child knows how to be patient.

How to Share

School requires a lot of sharing. You share attention. You share talking time. You share space. You share materials. You share toys.

Kids need to understand how to share.

How to Take Turns

Children need to take turns at the drinking fountain. They need to take turns talking. They need to take turns looking at a certain book or playing on the swings at recess.

Make sure your child knows how to take turns. This goes well with patience talked about above.

How to Sit and Listen to a Book

There are a lot of stories read in Kindergarten. But this skill isn’t only for the story reading time.

The teacher will often need to give explanations and instructions. If your child knows how to sit and listen, it will help with many aspects in the day.

How to Count to Ten

You want your child to be able to count to at least ten. Getting to twenty is a nice bonus.

You also want your child to be able to count ten objects, so if you put ten crayons in front of your child, she would be able to count them out.

How to Identify Numbers

Your child will need to be able to count, but also be able to look at a number and know what number it is.

You can test if your child can really identify the number by putting numbers out of order and seeing if your child can recognize the numbers that way.

How to Sort

Sorting is needed for math time as well as in basic life. There are many fun activities you can do at home to help with sorting.

It is best if your child can sort by size, color, and shape.

There are also many chores you can do at home that involve sorting. Sorting laundry, matching socks, putting away clean silverware…if your child is helping around the house, a lot of sorting will happen naturally.

How to Distinguish Shapes

Yet another math skill needed is to recognize shapes. You can do activities to learn shapes. You can read books about shapes. You can even just point out the shapes around you.

Focus on basic shapes. Square, circle, triangle, rectangle.

How to Identify Colors

Teach your child basic colors. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, white, black, brown. Start with the basics.

How to Recognize and Say the Letters of the Alphabet and Their Sounds

Kindergarten moves quickly. Words and their sounds will be reviewed at the beginning of the year, but that is what it is. A review.

The kids will soon be moving on from letters and on to sounding out words and even memorizing sight words.

The more your child knows, the easier the jump into transition will be. If your child does not know letters, she can quickly fall behind. Each letter will be covered for around one day, maybe less.

Be sure your child can say or sing the alphabet in order, can identify letters when you point to them, and can say the sound each letter makes.

Do not stress about knowing how to read before Kindergarten. Read to your child each day and work on rhyming skills. Nursery rhymes and songs are great for rhyming. If your child wants to read, let her, but do not force it.

Make sure as you read to your child that she knows how to hold a book the correct way and turn pages.

>>>Read: The Value of Reading Aloud to Your Children

How to Write Letters

Knowing how to write letters will b a big help to your child.

If this is a challenge, at the least have your child work on writing and fine motor skills with correct pencil grip.

You can do this through fun activities–they don’t have to feel like “worksheets” and homework.

If your child can write letters, a big bonus would be to teach your child to write her own name. Start with the first name. Make sure she uses an uppercase first letter but then move to lower case letters for the remainder of the name.

You do not need to stress about the last name, but if your child is in need of a challenge, it can be a nice thing to do.

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist

Kindergarten readiness checklist inforgraphic


These 15 things are overwhelming if done the week before school starts, but quite easy to teach slowly over time.

There are endless ideas online, and again, my eBook Babes, Tots, and Kids will help you build these skills.

Keep in mind you just want your child to be equipped to move at the pace of the curriculum without having to worry about basic social or academic skills.

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This post originally appeared on this blog in January 2018

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