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Getting Ready for Kindergarten: What Your Preschooler Needs to Learn

Posted by on in School Readiness
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It's back-to-school time! Like with every decision, parents agonize over preschool options. Do you send your child to preschool? What kind? Would your child be better off at home? Will they be ready for kindergarten if you opt out of preschool?

To help you think through your options, here's a basic checklist of what kids need to know to succeed in kindergarten. You can help your child learn these things at home, or they can gain this knowledge through any number of preschool programs.

Language and Pre-reading skills:

They need to be able to:

  • Listen
  • Follow directions
  • Have an attitude that learning is fun
  • Recognize and name basic shapes
  • Recognize and name basic colors
  • Understand the difference between “true” and “make believe.”
  • Make rhymes
  • Hear syllables
  • Identify characters in a book

Pre-Math Skills:

They need to be able to:

  • Tell the size differences between piles of items
  • Recognize coins
  • Count out loud 1 – 20
  • Count objects 1 – 10
  • Write Numbers 0-10
  • Understand one-to-one-correspondence (when I move one item, I say one number, and the biggest number I say is how many items there are)

Science Skills:

They need to be able to:

  • Recognize the four seasons
  • Name something that can float
  • Understand basics with magnets

Social Studies Skills:

They need to be able to:

  • Understand that people have different jobs
  • Understand the difference between “needs” and “wants”
  • Understand the concept that we use $ to buy goods

Use this list to evaluate preschool programs, keep track of your child's growth, and to come up with ideas for learning games at home. Remember that mostly, your preschooler needs to play and move, and that learning should be focused on fun, discovery, and whole-body engagement for your child to benefit the most.


Thank you to Sally Johnson and Jackie Bolt for helping compile this list out of their elementary-school teaching experience!

Photo Credit: pilllpat (agence eureka) via Compfight cc