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5 Basic Skills Your Child Needs for Kindergarten

By Erica Patino

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Is your child ready for kindergarten? If he has a decent grasp of these basic skills, he’ll have an easier transition when he enters kindergarten.

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Kindergarten child and teacher playing a number game
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He understands basic math concepts.

Your child doesn’t need to be a math genius. But it’s helpful if he can recognize and count numbers from 1 to 10. Some children entering kindergarten are able to recognize shapes like circles, squares, triangles and rectangles. And some can sort objects like buttons by size, shape and color.

Close-up of young girl practicing writing upper and lower case letters
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He can use a pencil or crayon.

Kindergartners need good fine motor skills to write and color. These skills include wrist control and a solid pincer grip. That’s the action used by the thumb and index finger to pinch a shoelace or hold a pencil. Fine motor skills also are used for cutting with scissors, zippering and buttoning, and turning the pages of a book.

Kindergarten classroom with several children raising hands
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He can listen to others.

Kindergartners are expected to listen to their teacher and follow instructions. It’s a good sign of school readiness if your child can listen to a story without interrupting and roughly re-tell you the story. Other good indicators include being able to follow two-step directions (such as “close your book and get your jacket”) and class rules in preschool.

Teacher drawing letters on a chalkboard with two students watching
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He recognizes most letters.

Kids entering kindergarten may not be able to string letters together into words. But it’s helpful if they can recognize and name the capital and lowercase letters of the alphabet. Many kindergartners can also recognize their own name.

Two children with backpacks putting their things away in cubbies
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He is essentially self-sufficient.

Going to kindergarten requires some independence. It’s important that your child can say his full name and your full name, and that he can tell an adult his phone number. Skills like being able to tell an adult that he’s not feeling well are also important. Kids need to be able to use the bathroom by themselves and take responsibility for their personal belongings, like jackets and lunch boxes.

If you’re still undecided about whether your child is ready for kindergarten, consider talking to his preschool teacher and his doctor.

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About the Author

Portrait of Erica Patino

Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Ginny Osewalt

Ginny Osewalt is certified in elementary and special education, with experience in inclusion, resource room and self-contained settings.

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