Readiness skills for kindergarten checklist

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist | Understood

When kids are getting ready for kindergarten, many families wonder about academic skills. But self-care and social and emotional skills are important for kindergarten readiness, too. For example, does your child need help using the bathroom? Learn about the different kinds of skills kids are expected to have when they start kindergarten.

Language skills

  • Speak in complete sentences and be understood by others most of the time
  • Use words to express needs and wants
  • Understand two-step directions
  • Make comparisons and describe relationships between objects like big/little, under/over, and first/last

Reading readiness skills

  • Enjoy listening to stories
  • Know how to find the first page of a book and which way to flip the pages
  • Recognize familiar logos and signs, like stop signs
  • Recite the alphabet and identify most of the letters
  • Recognize and try to write their own name
  • Recognize when two words rhyme (like cat and bat)
  • Start to connect letter sounds to letters (like the sound of the first letter in their name)
  • Draw a picture to help express an idea

Math skills

  • Count from 1 to 10 without skipping numbers
  • Match a number to a group of five or fewer items (“I see three cats”)
  • Recognize and name basic shapes (square, circle, triangle, rectangle)
  • Understand more than and less than
  • Arrange three objects in the right order (like from smallest to biggest)
  • Name or point to the colors in a box of eight crayons

Self-care skills

  • Use the bathroom and wash up on their own
  • Get dressed on their own (but may still need help with buttons, zippers, and shoelaces)
  • Know and can say their first and last name and age

Social and emotional skills

  • Separate from a parent or caregiver without getting overly upset
  • Interact with other kids
  • Pay attention for at least five minutes to a task an adult is leading, like listening to directions for an activity or discussing the day’s weather during circle time

Fine motor skills

  • Use a pencil or crayon with some control
  • Use scissors
  • Copy basic shapes
  • Make distinct marks that look like letters and write some actual letters, especially the ones in their name
  • Put together a simple puzzle

Gross motor skills

  • Run
  • Jump with feet together
  • Hop on one foot
  • Climb stairs
  • Bounce a ball and try to catch it

How to help your rising kindergartner

Kids develop skills at different rates. It’s not unusual for kids to have strong skills in one area and weak skills in other areas. Some states use kindergarten readiness tests to get a sense of which early learners might need extra help in some areas.

If you’re concerned your child isn’t ready for kindergarten, talk with your child's preschool teacher and work together to come up with a plan to address any trouble spots. You might also want to talk with your child’s health care provider. Learn about the pros and cons of delaying kindergarten for a year.

If your child is headed for kindergarten, explore these steps for a smooth transition. You might also want to see a set of videos on what kindergarten academic skills look like in action.

Key takeaways

  • Kids develop skills at different rates and might be strong in some areas and weak in others.

  • Some states use kindergarten readiness tests to see if kids need extra help in certain areas.

  • If you’re concerned your child might not be ready for kindergarten, talk to your child’s preschool teacher about how to help.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

    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.

    Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Checklist • Kids Activities Blog

    ByMonica S Updated on

    Is my child ready for kindergarten? It is a question that I asked three times. One with each kid!

    Today we have made that much easier for you with a Kindergarten readiness checklist that you can print and check off skills that your child already has or needs to work on. Every kid deserves to BE READY for kindergarten!

    Kindergarten-readiness can look different for each child, but we have some guidelines to help!

    What should Kindergarteners Know?

    Kindergarten is an exciting time for kids. There is a lot of learning, play and growth during the ages of 4-6. Going to school – kindergarten – plays a big role in preparing academic skills necessary for kids to be successful in elementary school. But…you don’t want to push them into a stressful situation they aren’t ready for!

    We have a massive resource of kindergarten activities that will keep your 4-6 year old busy and learning.

    Kindergarten Readiness – How to Know if Your Child is Read to Start Kindergarten

    Although children develop at different rates, there are some skills that they need to have before entering kindergarten – which is why we made a printable list of tasks that children should be able to complete before taking this big step!

    If you are wondering how to make this transition easier for your little one, first you need to make sure your little one is prepared for kindergarten.

    Kindergarten Prep

    As your toddler grows up and gets closer to entering kindergarten, you may be wondering these big questions:

    • How can I know if my child is ready for this step?
    • What does school readiness mean and how can I measure it?
    • Which skills are required for Kindergarten’s first day of school?

    We know these questions, among many others, are constantly roaming around your mind.

    Deciding if your child is ready for kindergarten is a huge task. If you are looking for tips for getting ready for kindergarten, our kindergarten readiness checklist is just what you need.

    When to Do the Kindergarten Checklist

    I love using the kindergarten checklist as a loose guide of what types of activities and things my child needs to practice during the preschool years especially if you are doing preschool at home. There are so many ways to play with the needed skills and adds a little structure to activity time!

    Playing together develops a lot of the skills children need to be ready for first day of Kindergarten!

    Kindergarten Assessment Checklist

    A printable version of the Kindergarten Readiness Skills Checklist is below

    How much do you know about the different types of skills children are expected to have when they start kindergarten? Did you know that there are preschool skills that every preschool curriculum includes so that kids are “ready for Kindergarten”?

    Kindergarten-Ready Language Skills
    • Can name & recognize 5 colors
    • Can name & recognize 10+ letters
    • Can recognize own name in print
    • Matches letters to letter sounds they make
    • Recognizes words rhyme
    • Can write all or most of the letters of the alphabet in own first name
    • Recognizes common words and signs
    • Understands descriptive words like big, little, etc.
    • Can draw pictures to tell a story
    • Uses words to clearly verbalizes a story or own experiences
    • Follows two-step directions
    • Can answer who, what, when, where questions in complete sentences
    • Asks questions about how things work
    • Stars and joins in conversations
    • Recites common nursery rhymes
    • Shows interest in reading and being able to read
    • Holds and looks at a book correctly
    • Makes inferences about the plot of a story from the cover
    • Can retell a simple story
    • Speaks clearly and listens appropriately
    Kindergarten Readiness Math Skills
    • Can order 3 things in a sequence
    • Can repeat a simple pattern
    • Matches 2 like things
    • Sorts objects by shape, color and size
    • Matches items that go together
    • Counts objects from 1-10
    • Orders numbers from 1-10
    • Identifies numbers from 1-10
    • Uses objects to demonstrate greater than and less than
    • Understands the amount a number represents
    • Adds and subtracts simple objects
    • Can draw a line, circle, rectangle, triangle and plus sign
    • Starts positive interactions with others
    • Takes turns, shares, plays with others
    • Resolves conflicts with peers appropriately
    • Expresses feelings appropriately
    • Responds appropriately to own and others’ feelings
    • Says “please”, “thank you” and expresses feelings in words
    • Tries to complete tasks
    • Holds writing instruments with control – See how to hold a pencil for help!
    • Uses scissors to cut with control
    • Can recite name – first and last name, address and phone number
    • Knows how old he/she is
    • Can use the bathroom, wash hands, get dressed including button shirts and put on shoes without assistance
    • Is able to adapt to new situations
    • Can run, jump, hop, throw, catch and bounce a ball
    Download & print our Kindergarten Readiness Checklist to help identify your child’s readiness…

    Kindergarten Readiness Checklist PDF – How to Download

    Can your kid name and recognize five colors? Are they able to draw pictures to tell a story? Do they know how to take turns, share, and play with other kids? Can they express their feelings positively? Do they know how to count to 10?

    Download Kindergarten Readiness Checklist PDF Here:

    Remember that it’s completely normal for kids to have strong skills in one area while others are a bit weaker. And that’s fine!

    Don’t put too much pressure on your child based on the Kindergarten Checklists, remember we all learn and develop at different speeds; and at the end of the day, this printable list is just a way to get an idea of where to offer your kids some extra help.

    All ready for the first day of Kindergarten!

    Free Resources for Kindergarten Prep

    • Check out over 1K preschool activities and craft ideas from Kids Activities Blog that can be a playful learning experience! Fun practice for things like writing, use scissors, basic shapes, gluing and more!
    • While you may never feel like a “homeschooler”, we have a massive resource of how to homeschool preschool that can help you fill in the gaps of any skills your child needs to expand.
    • Looking for some simple solutions to preschool learning? Our expansive list of best-selling preschool workbooks can assist.
    • It is not all about the education and facts that kids know. In fact, much of the preschool and Kindergarten learning process is through observation, play and learning. Check out this smart advice on teaching life skills to kids.
    • We have over 75 free Kindergarten worksheets that you can download and print as part of your Kindergarten readiness plan.

    One of my favorite activities for igniting curiosity and enhancing fine motor skills are crafts! Here you will find 21 handpicked crafts for 3 year olds for everyday fun.

    Even the littlest ones can start getting ready for kindergarten, no matter how young! These activities for 1 year olds are a sure way to encourage their development with super fun activities.

    Language skills, reading readiness skills, math skills, social and emotional skills, fine motor skills, are just some of them. Help your little one develop these skills with hands on activities for kids which are both fun and engaging.

    The transition to Kindergarten will be easier if kids are ready.

    Making the Decision for Kindergarten

    Bottom line here is every kid is different and you need to get as much data as you can to make this decision, but above all, trust your gut.

    I mentioned that I had this question three times. My boys are now all teenagers, but I can still feel the stress of this question on me and my husband like it was yesterday!

    And I felt like I made the wrong decision for one of my boys. I felt like that for YEARS…I was pushed into placing him in first grade when my heart said he would be better off in Kindergarten. It was a struggle at first for him as he tried to catch up in first grade. He was slow to pick up reading which only intensified my regret.

    This month he was offered a very significant college scholarship and admittance to the honors college. I say that because as parents we are often very hard on ourselves when in reality we are doing the best we can. This decision is important, but so are the million other tiny decisions that follow.

    Kids mature and learn at different paces and the best thing for us to do is try and support that in whatever way is possible.

    You got this!

    Monica S

    Kindergarten Readiness Checklist: Skills to Learn for Kindergarten

    SDI Productions / Getty

    When you start thinking about your child going to school, it always comes as a shock. After all, didn't you welcome them into this world yesterday? That seems to be the case, so it can be a little frustrating to send your cute little one to kindergarten (sip). But this is where a kindergarten readiness checklist comes in handy. When your brain starts spinning in a million different directions, being able to tell at a glance if your child is ready for kindergarten can help keep you balanced.

    Of course, each child is individual and unique. So, there is no perfect formula to determine if kids are really ready for kindergarten. But as you probably already know - or will soon learn - there is no such thing as perfect parenting. Having children means living in a beautiful, imperfect, controlled (sometimes ha!) Chaos.

    Having said that, you can use this Kindergarten Readiness Checklist to see what typical kindergarten skills your child has already mastered and where you need to give a little extra attention. Don't worry if you're not sure what should be on the list to start with, you're not the only one who isn't sure. In fact, according to the latest search data available, the Kindergarten Readiness Checklist is viewed nearly 2,400 times a month. And if the list seems overwhelming at first glance, don't worry. A child's brain is an amazing sponge. Even if they can't do something on the list today, they can take it and knock it out in the blink of an eye next week.

    What skills are needed for kindergarten?

    If you're wondering what a five year old should know before kindergarten, you're definitely not alone. At some point in the first few years of a child's life, every parent should start thinking about how to prepare their little one for the future. When it comes to what every child should know before entering kindergarten, below is a helpful checklist of language, math, motor and social skills that most children will master before or early in kindergarten.

    These skills include some key things your child needs to know before starting kindergarten. Just remember - not knowing all this or not having all these skills will not prevent your child from going to kindergarten. This should simply serve as a guide to help you support your preschooler's growth.

    Stephen Andrews / Unsplash

    Language skills

    • Speaks in full sentences most of the time
    • Uses sentences containing two or more ideas.
    • Understands and follows directions in at least two steps
    • Recognizes some common words such as stop
    • Repeats a familiar song, poem, or nursery rhyme by heart also ideally home or emergency number)


    • Match two similar pictures in a set of five pictures
    • Play simple memory matching games
    • Classify objects by physical characteristics such as color, shape, and size.
    • Groups objects that go together
    • Captures concepts related to position, directions, size and comparison (in/out, front/back, on/off, big/small, up/down)
    • Arranges up to three scenes correctly pictures
    • Puts together simple puzzles (up to four pieces)
    • Identifies about five colors
    • Understands that actions have both causes and effects.
    • draws a picture to express the idea of ​​

    Reading skills

    • determines some letters of the alphabet
    • recognizes their name in print
    • attempts to write the letters of their own name
    • Writes the name in capital and sustained letters
    • recognizes familiar words and logo, recognizes familiar words and logo e.g. stop signs
    • defines two rhyming words
    • corresponds to at least three letters of sounds
    • made that it reads books
    • Links stories with personal experience


    • Counts the number of objects in small groups (up to five)
    • Corresponds to the number (up to five) of a group with that many objects
    • Understands the concept of adding or removing with objects (up to five)
    • Arranges numbers in order from 1 to 5.
    • Designates at least three shapes (usually circle, square, triangle)
    • Counts consecutively from 1 to 10
    • Arranges objects by size

    Physical/motor skills

      Builds made of blocks
    • Attempts to tie own shoes
    • Buttons, zippers, laces and buckles
    • Spills liquids without spilling
    • Self dressing or demonstrates ability
    • Uses tools such as pens, pencils and safety scissors with relative control
    • Can use scissors to cut simple shapes
    • Grabs a pencil, marker or crayon with thumb and forefinger.
    • Replicates basic shapes (straight line, x, circle, plus sign)
    • Demonstrates gross motor skills by jumping, running and/or bouncing a ball.
    • Can kick a moving ball while running
    • Takes personal responsibility for routines such as washing hands, brushing teeth, dressing and using the toilet.
    • Can use scissors, glue, paint and other art materials relatively easily.

    Social / Emotional

    • He knows the name and name
    • knows the name and surname of parents
    • determines the age
    • Lists the story without interrupting
    • expresses the main needs
    • interacts with other children
    • can play independently or with others children under 10 minutes
    • Collaborate and share during play
    • Demonstrates independence in personal care (eg, washing hands, using the potty)
    • Uses words such as please, thank you, and sorry
    • Adapts to new situations relatively easily (if social and/or sensory disturbances are not a problem)
    • Understands it's OK to make mistakes
    • Participates in cleaning up
    • Cleans up after himself
    • Easily separates from parents or caregivers

    How can you help prepare your child for kindergarten?

    It is perfectly normal for children to not have mastered all the skills listed on the Kindergarten Readiness Checklist. In fact, they don't master some of them until kindergarten (they go a long way in the first year!). But there are a few kindergarten prep activities you can do with your prospective student to help them get ready.

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    When playing with your child, start by using the checklist above. When interacting with your toddler, choose a few skills and apply them. Does your child know his first and last name? Can they count from 1 to 10? Every time you encounter an obstacle, pay attention to it. You can then find activities that will strengthen those specific skills. For example, if your cute little nugget is struggling to figure out some letters of the alphabet, you could buy a book that teaches the alphabet and start reading it together on a regular basis ( Chica Chica Boom Boom is a fun choice).

    You can also start a conversation about kindergarten by talking in a positive way, try not to show your anxiety, as this may affect your child. If the kindergarten has visiting days, take your child with you to get to know the environment.

    How can you help your child with special needs transition to kindergarten?

    Transitions can be difficult for all children, but can be especially frightening and difficult for children with special needs. That is why it is so important that parents, teachers and administration work together to help the child adjust to the new environment. Educator Maddie Bodin made a list of what her students were working on. Edutopia, using his years of experience to help other educators and teachers.

    Here are her recommendations:

    - Use social stories : Social stories like Next year I will be in a new class with a new teacher and new rules, I may be scared or nervous in my new class, I will work on learning new rules, and listening to my new teacher can help students share descriptive and safe information.

    - Observations : It is important to give students the opportunity to visit their new classroom, cafeteria, and new environment.

    - Photobook : Teachers can help parents by creating a photo album for an incoming student from their classroom, play areas, food areas and even photos of teachers and teacher assistants before their first day. This will give parents time to study the book with their child.

    What is included in the kindergarten readiness test?

    Although federal law does not require states to estimate how many students are in each year through third grade, many states have adopted standardized testing for younger students as well. And in some states, this includes kindergarten readiness testing. These tests are not designed to decide whether a child should spend another year in preschool. Rather, they are designed to identify students who may need special education services.

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    So what do they consist of? Well, they are unique in that they are designed for one child at a time. The teacher or superintendent checks the child by asking him questions and writing down the answers. This may include things like asking the child for their first and last name or asking them to use building blocks to solve a math problem.

    Some schools ask parents to complete a Kindergarten Readiness Checklist to help parents identify areas where their child may need extra help and attention. Here is a sample list from Michigan State University:

    Initiates his own leisure.

    May follow directions.

    Runs tasks on first request.

    Ends one action before starting another.

    Can work independently.

    Can trace or draw a line with control.

    Gives full name when asked.

    Verbally identifies letters in a name.

    Identifies the similarities and differences between images.

    Count up to… select the largest number .

    Cuts with scissors.

    the funniest roses - red violets - blue verses

    Uses the plug correctly.

    Able to jump on one leg.

    What to do if your child is not ready?

    If you and your child are going through the Kindergarten Readiness Checklist and are worried that they are not really ready, contact your child's preschool teacher. They can help you come up with a plan to address any problem areas, as well as discuss the pros and cons of postponing kindergarten.

    How can parents prepare for kindergarten?

    Not only children have to prepare for kindergarten, parents have to prepare themselves. First of all, after you have chosen a school, it is important to take a tour. Many schools hold parent-only orientation nights, giving them the opportunity to learn about the opportunities the school has to offer, see the classroom where their child will spend most of their day, and meet teachers and teacher aides.

    This is also a great opportunity to ask important questions about return and collection policies, review your child's daily routine so you can make some changes before the first day of school, and learn about teacher disciplinary practices and policies.

    How do you know if your child is ready for kindergarten?

    Probably every mother is worried and nervous when it comes time to send her child to kindergarten. Usually this period coincides with the return to work from the decree. Thoughts that the baby will be out of sight for many hours cause strong emotional experiences in parents: what if the caregivers do not take care of him as much as we do?

    The range of emotions expands significantly when parents understand that the child is not ready for kindergarten. And here it is important not so much age, academic literacy, as social and emotional preparation.

    How can you help your child? After all, children learn skills at different speeds. Some have strong skills in one area and not enough in another. There are so many gray areas: a child may surprise with deep knowledge and lack social skills; or he may have an amazing vocabulary but no hand-eye coordination.

    We've prepared some tips for anxious mothers, use them as a guide.

    1. Child's readiness for autonomy away from parents.

    This is a very common problem and a normal part of adaptation. We assure you that it is almost always harder for parents than for children. Do not forget that independence is not an innate character trait, it is formed due to your upbringing. How often do you send your baby to spend the night at grandma's? Do you leave for a short time (under supervision) in the play area of ​​the mall? The more short-term separations, the higher the readiness for separation from parents.

    2. Household skills, including personal care.

    In public kindergartens, teachers require the child to know the basic rules of personal hygiene: go to the toilet on his own, wash his hands with soap. Eat with a spoon, drink from a cup. He expressed his needs and desires. Tried to dress, fasten and unfasten clothes and shoes. But in private kindergartens like the Sun School, kids don't need to know how to do this. Kindergarten teachers devote time to each child, and problems with everyday skills are resolved in a timely and easy manner. Kids quickly master all the missing skills.

    3. Socialization: the ability to make friends and communicate with people

    It is good to have experience of interacting with other children, for example, in early development groups or on the playground, in order to quickly adapt in the garden. But if the kid does not know how to play with peers without the participation of adults, share toys with them, speak in short simple sentences, patiently sit still for 15 minutes - it does not matter, the Sun School staff knows how to develop the communication skills of the children, and win over everyone children from the first day of visiting the kindergarten.

    4. Discipline and daily routine

    Each kindergarten has a certain mode of wakefulness and sleep, eating, walking. To do this, we recommend that you find out in advance the daily routine in the kindergarten, where the child will go, and gradually adjust the home regimen to it. This makes it easier to get used to the new schedule. The first 2-3 months of visiting the kindergarten, it is advisable to adhere to the schedule on weekends. It is important that children understand the meaning of the words “no”, “no”, “dangerous” and others.

    A separate item is about the baby's health and eating habits.

    A child comes to kindergarten and has to get acquainted not only with children and caregivers, but also with a wide variety of pathogens. For any immune system, even the strongest one, this is a very big load, which means that it will get sick more often in the garden.

    To strengthen the immune system, we advise you not to avoid potential encounters with viral diseases, because with such contacts, the child undergoes a kind of training of the body's defenses. To reduce the risk of illness, every morning in the gardens of the Sun School, a medical officer examines the children to rule out signs of an incipient illness. If the filter shows a problem, the parents take the child home.

    Learn more