Skills Your Child Needs for Kindergarten

By Amanda Morin
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Is your child is ready for kindergarten? Here’s a checklist to help you figure out if your child has the physical, academic and social skills she needs to start kindergarten. You can print this list by clicking the view or download link below.

Skills Your Child Needs for Kindergarten (View / Download)

Language Skills

  • Speaks in complete sentences

  • Can be understood by others most of the time

  • Uses words to express needs and wants

  • Understands two-step directions

  • Makes comparisons and describes relationships between objects such as big/little, under/over and first/last

Fine Motor Skills

  • Uses a pencil or crayon with some control

  • Can use scissors

  • Copies basic shapes

  • Uses a pencil or crayon to make markings on paper including lines, symbols and attempts at alphabet letters

  • Does a simple puzzle

Gross Motor Skills

  • Runs

  • Can jump with feet together

  • Hops on one foot

  • Climbs stairs

  • Bounces and tries to catch a ball

Math Skills

  • Counts from 1 to 10 without skipping numbers

  • Matches a number to a group of five or fewer items (“I see three cats and four dogs”)

  • Names and recognizes basic shapes (square, circle, triangle, rectangle)

  • Understands more than and less than

  • Can name or point to the colors in a box of eight crayons

  • Can arrange three picture cards or objects in the right order (such as from smallest to biggest)

Reading Readiness Skills

  • Enjoys listening to stories and knows how to find the first page of a book and which way to flip the pages

  • Recognizes familiar logos and signs, such as stop signs

  • Can recite the alphabet and identify most of the letters

  • Recognizes and tries to write own name

  • Recognizes when two words rhyme (such as cat and bat)

  • Begins to connect letter sounds to letters (such as the sound of the first letter in her name)

  • Can draw a picture to express an idea

Self-Care Skills

  • Uses the bathroom and washes up independently

  • Does basic self-dressing (may still need help with buttons, zippers and shoelaces)

  • Knows and can say full name and age

Social and Emotional Skills

  • Can separate from you without getting overly upset

  • Interacts with other kids

  • Can pay attention for at least five minutes to a task an adult is leading, such as listening to directions for an activity or discussing the day’s weather during circle time

If after going through this checklist you’re concerned your child isn’t ready for kindergarten, you might want to speak with her doctor. You might also consider what it would mean to delay kindergarten for your child. If your child is headed for kindergarten, explore these steps for a smooth transition.

Discover fun ways to help your child build fine and gross motor skills. Explore multisensory techniques to help your child with writing. And see a collection of videos that show what kindergarten academic skills look like in action.

About the Author

About the Author

Amanda Morin 

worked as a classroom teacher and as an early intervention specialist for 10 years. She is the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education. Two of her children have learning differences.

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Kristen L. Hodnett, MSEd 

is a clinical professor in the department of special education at Hunter College in New York City.

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