What Your Child Should Know Before Starting Kindergarten

Starting kindergarten can be an exciting yet nerve-wracking time for both children and parents. For children to thrive in their first year of elementary school, they need to have a strong foundation in several areas, including academic, social-emotional, and behavioral.

In this article, we’ll discuss what children need to know before starting kindergarten.

Table of Contents

Language and Literacy

Being able to recognize letters, numbers, colors, and shapes are essential skills for kindergarteners. They should also have pre-reading and pre-writing skills.

Pennsylvania guidelines state that kindergarteners should recognize 8-12 letters (upper and lowercase), write their own name with most letters correct, count to 20, and know most written numbers from one to ten.

One way to support language and literacy skills is by interacting with books and reading to children. This helps them recognize essential features of books and provides a foundation for later academic success.

Social and Emotional Development

Starting kindergarten requires children to separate from their parents and interact with other children and adults.

Children who can communicate their needs and want, share, take turns, follow simple instructions, express themselves, and demonstrate self-awareness and independence have a higher chance of succeeding socially in kindergarten.

Separation anxiety is also a significant component of a child’s social and emotional development, and children should be able to transition to school with ease.

Developing strong social and emotional skills in children also helps them to build supportive relationships, handle challenging situations, and cope with life’s ups and downs.

Physical Development

Kindergarten is a big step for children, and being physically ready is vital. Kids need to have excellent self-care abilities and motor skills.

They are expected to become independent in getting dressed, tying their shoes, and bathing. Additionally, they need to have the capability to use scissors, glue, and crayons.

Your state’s department of education should have a checklist for kindergarten readiness in areas such as self-help skills, small motor skills, large motor skills, and social and emotional skills.

Cognitive Development

Kindergarten is not just about academics. In fact, the critical focus should not be on merely teaching the basics, but on fostering a love for learning at an early age.

In terms of academics, students should display basic understanding of math concepts, recall and memory, and problem-solving skills.

Notably, counting skills are fundamental. Children should be able to count to ten and also count objects correctly with one-to-one correspondence. Rhyming is a skill that correlates with better reading skills later on.

Additional Aspects of Kindergarten Readiness

Before starting kindergarten, children should have good hygiene habits and be familiar with the routine at school.

Additionally, they should have a passion for learning and exploration, with an ability to focus and pay attention.

If a child has developmental challenges, early intervention is critical for their success. Pediatricians, along with therapists from various fields, can examine the child comprehensively and develop educational plans tailored to meet the child’s needs.

Finally, all children should be welcomed at school, and those who may need help navigating the classroom environment should have an education plan with resources for support.

Parents’ Role in Preparing Their Child for Kindergarten

As a parent, you have an essential role in your child’s education, from birth through their academic years.

In preparing your child for kindergarten, you can use everyday activities as opportunities to teach them skills. For example, when grocery shopping, ask them to identify different fruits and veggies based on color or shape.

Spending quality time with family and friends is also important, as it helps to develop social-emotional skills. But one of the simplest ways that parents can foster kindergarten readiness is by reading to their child regularly.

Having a passion for learning and exploration can lead your child to have a strong foundation for their academic and personal success.


Starting kindergarten is a significant milestone in a child’s life, and it’s essential to ensure that they have a strong foundation before they begin their formal education.

We discussed kindergarten readiness across a variety of categories, including academic, social-emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

Parents can help their child prepare for kindergarten by providing the right tools and experiences, and they can involve their child in the learning process in a fun and engaging way. We hope this post has provided insight into kindergarten readiness, emphasizing the importance of early education and the ways that parents can support their child’s academic and personal success.

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