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How to Get Ready for Kindergarten

Read Time: 7 mins

I want to be clear before we start… The point of this blog post is NOT to make you teach your child how to read. Because honestly I don't care if, when, or how you work with your child. To each their own.   

I’m also not writing this to make you feel anxious or overwhelmed. Because those feelings are not going to be very helpful for you or your little one.

I’m sharing this resource so you can support your little one in getting ready for kindergarten. That’s it. It’s about your kid and how you can help them.

For some of you, this will mean changing nothing. You’ll read through this checklist and feel confident that your little one is prepared for school.  

And for others, there may be one or two areas where you’ll want to focus on improving (like their social skills, their organizational skills, or their reading skills.)

But my goal in this business is to tell you the truth because I know your child deserves it. So I sincerely hope you find this to be helpful AND encouraging for you in supporting your little one. 

This Kindergarten Checklist is For You If…

  • you’re not sure whether your child is fully prepared for kindergarten
  • you know you have some work to do to help prepare your child for kindergarten
  • you’re not a “just send them to school, and they’ll be fine” type of parent
  • you don’t have the money/resources to help them catch them up if they fall behind

If you do feel like your child is already good to go. Or if you think you can just send them to school and they’ll be fine, no matter what. Or if you think your child’s only teacher should be their school teacher… then this list is definitely NOT for you. I recommend you stop reading here and save your time.

So if you’re in the right place, then let’s start by understanding what your child will need to know at the END of kindergarten. (note: these standards will differ from state to state and country to country) By starting at the END,  we can better understand what they might need at the BEGINNING of kindergarten. 

What Should Your Child Be Able to Do at the END of Kindergarten?

Now, I didn’t make this list up myself. But I think it offers a really good summary of the skills your kindergartener will be expected to know by the end of the year.

And to be completely honest with you: when I taught kindergarten, I never shared this full list with my families. But I did share parts of it with them, depending on the kid.

For some families, I shared the academic goals and how we’d need to work together to make sure their child was progressing. For other families, I focused on the social goals so we could be sure their child was building age-appropriate relationships.

But since I don’t know your little one and your family the way I knew my students and their families, I want to share the full list, so we have a common starting point.

By the end of kindergarten, you can expect your child to:

  • Follow class rules
  • Separate from a parent or caregiver with ease
  • Take turns
  • Cut along a line with scissors
  • Establish left- or right-hand dominance
  • Understand time concepts like yesterday, today, and tomorrow
  • Stand quietly in a line
  • Follow directions agreeably and easily
  • Pay attention for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Hold a crayon and pencil correctly
  • Share materials such as crayons and blocks
  • Know the eight basic colors: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, black, white, and pink
  • Recognize and write the letters of the alphabet in upper- and lowercase forms
  • Know the relationship between letters and the sounds they make
  • Recognize sight words such as the and read simple sentences
  • Spell their first and last name
  • Write consonant-vowel-consonant words such as bat and fan
  • Retell a story that has been read aloud
  • Identify numbers up to 20
  • Count by ones, fives, and tens to 100
  • Know basic shapes such as a square, triangle, rectangle, and circle
  • Know her address and phone number

(Source: GreatSchools.org)

And regardless of your personal opinion on kindergarten… regardless of whether you think they’re expecting too much of our kids or whether you feel like it’s changed since you were a kid… These are the expectations. And I think we can all agree: we want our children to be as prepared as possible to meet them. None of us want our kids to be unprepared for every. single. thing. on this list.

How You Can Think About This List

All of our children are going to have areas of strength and areas of growth on this list. There will be some things they’re already doing well and other things that they’re not doing well YET. And that’s OK.

Our job as parents is NOT to teach our kids everything on this list before kindergarten. BUT… if we know what they’re going to be expected to do, and we know a few places where we can help to prepare them, then it makes sense to work on those things.


I’ll give you an example.

My son turned 2 in March 2020- just as lockdowns started across the country. As the pandemic went on and our son spent more and more time at home, we knew he wasn’t getting the social interactions we wanted him to have. After all, the only two people he talked to during the day were his mommy and me.

So we tried to fill that gap. We role-played social situations using stuffed animals and toy cars, practicing sharing and taking turns. We knew it wasn’t the same thing as talking and interacting with other kids, and we knew he would probably STILL have some social deficits…

But we did do two things well. First, we identified what we thought our son needed to work on the most. And second, we spent a little bit of time every day working on it because we knew it was important.


So I’ll say it again: our job is not to teach every skill on this kindergarten milestones list. Instead, we should be strategic and identify just a FEW things to help them get ready for school.

What Needs the Most Attention NOW to Help Support Them LATER?

Let’s take another look at that list. But this time, let’s break it down into five buckets:

  1. Behavioral Skills
  2. Motor Skills
  3. Reading Skills
  4. Math Skills
  5. Other Knowledge

As you re-read these lists, pay attention to which group of skills you think your little one needs more practice with to feel ready to go on day 1 of kindergarten.

Behavioral Skills

  • Follow class rules
  • Separate from a parent or caregiver with ease
  • Take turns                               
  • Stand quietly in a line
  • Follow directions agreeably and easily
  • Share materials such as crayons and blocks
  • Pay attention for 15 to 20 minutes

 Motor Skills

  • Cut along a line with scissors
  • Establish left- or right-hand dominance
  • Hold a crayon and pencil correctly

Reading Skills

  • Recognize and write the letters of the alphabet in upper- and lowercase forms
  • Know the relationship between letters and the sounds they make
  • Recognize sight words such as the and read simple sentences
  • Spell his first and last name
  • Write consonant-vowel-consonant words such as bat and fan
  • Retell a story that has been read aloud

Math Skills

  • Identify numbers up to 20
  • Count by ones, fives, and tens to 100
  • Know basic shapes such as a square, triangle, rectangle, and circle

Other Knowledge

  • Understand time concepts like yesterday, today, and tomorrow
  • Know the eight basic colors: red, yellow, blue, green, orange, black, white, and pink
  • Know her address and phone number

Where is your little one the most prepared? Where do you think they’ll benefit from more support?

Maybe you’ve read through the academic list and feel good about it… But you’re worried about their social skills: how they’ll get along with others and whether they can follow another adult’s directions. Or maybe you feel like they have all of the motor skills down but are struggling to identify things like shapes and colors.

No matter where your child is in their development, thinking about their skills according to these buckets can help you focus your energy on the skills they need the most (instead of stressing over every little detail.)

How I Can Support You

At this point, you may feel one of two ways. You may feel relieved that you’ve been working on many of these skills already, or you may feel overwhelmed by the skills they’ve yet to learn. You may feel a little bit of both. And that’s OK.

Because here’s the thing: whether you’re working on one skill (like following directions) or multiple skills: there are things you can do in your day-to-day routine to help build these skills in your little one. And it doesn’t need to take a lot of time, but it is going to take some planning to make sure you’re working on the skill.

And if you do decide that you want to help your child with their reading ability, I’ve got you covered. It’s going to be a huge part of kindergarten and the rest of their lives. I have my Early Reading Training for free as well as paid courses with even more support to help you teach them how to read.

And if behavioral skills are your focus, I’d recommend finding an account, course, or resource that can support you in your work with your little one. Personally, I really like The Mom Psychologist. She’s very real and very practical with her advice, and what she shares aligns well with what children will need to be successful in school and beyond.  

And as always, if there’s any way I can support you and your little one- whether they’re kindergarten aged or not- please let me know, and I’ll be happy to support you!