6 things your child should know before starting kindergarten

July 10, 2018
  • By Mary Caldwell
  • For the AJC

Your child will learn a wealth of information in kindergarten, and you can help ensure that he or she knows what's needed to get off to a good start. 

If you're like most parents, you probably wonder how much and exactly what your child needs to know in order to feel at ease and be ready to learn.

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The BumpBabyCenterPOPSUGARThe American Federation of Teachers and Today's Parent suggest the following six things your child should know before starting kindergarten:

Basic skills and information

Your child should know some basics that will help kindergarten start more comfortably and easily. They should be able to take turns as well as work and play independently and also be able to say their name, address and phone number. 

Easily separating from parents is important, but this may take a few days. Your child should be able to use the bathroom (including wiping and hand washing) without help, although teachers know that accidents do happen.

A Pre-K student works on a alphabet puzzle which helps with fine motor skills. Photo: Ralph Barrera

Fine and gross motor control

Both fine and gross motor skills are important since they'll help your child be able to easily participate in activities to play and learn. Your child should be able to line up and walk in a straight line as well as jump and throw a ball. Help them practice using scissors to cut out shapes, using glue (both sticks and bottles) and holding a pencil or crayon. This will help your child feel more comfortable and let them be able to focus on learning and work as opposed to learning how to use the tools.

Reading readiness

Your child doesn't have to know how to read before starting kindergarten, but they should be ready to learn. This means that they're able to distinguish between pictures and words and between letters and words. They may also be able to read a few high-frequency words, such as "is," "the" and "me." And your child should also understand basic concepts, including the fact that we read left to right and that a book is read from front to back, one page at a time.

Social skills

For kids who aren't used to a lot of hustle and bustle, it can be a shock to adjust to being one of a large group of kids. Your child should feel comfortable interacting and socializing in larger groups, so look for opportunities that will help prepare him or her for being one in a relatively large group. He or she should feel comfortable rather than ill at ease and should also be able to participate and ask for help if needed.

Paying attention

It's hard for your child to learn if he or she can't pay attention and listen in the classroom. Help them develop this skill by reading books aloud to them, start to finish and by talking about the book. Eating together and practicing sitting still as well as taking turns speaking and listening can also help your child develop his or her attention span and understand the back-and-forth nature of conversations.

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Familiarity with numbers

It helps if your child knows some numbers and is able to count from 1 to 5 or 10. Practice counting games around the house by asking your child how many red trucks he or she has or how many cookies are left on the plate. You can also point out numbers on the calendar and say the number of certain objects as you go for a walk or play in the park ("three kids," “two dogs," etc.)

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