What Your Child Needs to Know Before Starting Kindergarten

Social skills and the ability to speak up are important

Allegra Myers with her soon-to-be kindergartner daughter (Image: Michael Hanson @mhansonphoto)

In a post on the Impatient Optimists blog of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Allegra Myers writes about her family’s positive pre-K experience. Her 5½-year-old daughter will be ready when she starts kindergarten—not just academically, but also socially.

Describing what makes her daughter ready, Myers writes, “To me, it’s the basics of academics, getting ready for reading and math, but it’s also social, learning how to be around different kinds of people, and how to deal with conflict. Playing with other kids. Academic and social skills are equally important—that helps not just in school but in life.”

I love how on the website, Myers’s post is categorized under College-ready Education, because preparation for college does indeed begin in pre-K.

Ready for Kindergarten


But not all kids are as fortunate as the Myerses’ little girl. According to a post from Edudemic.com, 10 Things Kindergartners Should Know Before School, kindergarten teachers surveyed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching revealed that, on average, 35% of their charges were not ready for kindergarten.

How can you make sure your child is ready? Edudemic.com counts the ways in that same post, excerpted below.

Children entering kindergarten should know:

1. How to take care of the “little things” themselves. Teachers can’t tie every student’s shoe or button up every coat. Students should know the basics of self-care before day 1 in the classroom.

2. How to follow the rules. This includes listening attentively and following directions of those in charge, a.k.a. the teacher.

3. How to tell a story. Kindergartners don’t need to know how to read a story yet, but being able to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end demonstrates strong communication skills and the ability to communicate thoughts and feelings through words.

4. How to count to 10:  [This means counting both] out loud and in written numeral form.

5. All the letters of the alphabet.

6. Their important personal information. This includes being able to spell out their name and recite their home address and parents’ phone numbers. This information is crucial to know in case an emergency arises!

7. Recognize basic shapes and name common colors.

8. How to use the bathroom by themselves. Again, a teacher can’t be on toilet duty all day!

9. How to ask for help. Raising a hand can seem intimidating to a child, but kindergartners need to know how to speak up and ask for help, or answer questions when called upon.

10. How to use essential classroom materials, like pencils, scissors, and crayons.

To read more, go to Edudemic.com.

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