What Skills Should Your Child Have When They Start Kindergarten?

When you think about the skills your child should have to start kindergarten – just what are they? What comes to mind for you, and what does your education system require?

Kindergarten marks the start of your child’s formal education. It’s an exciting and emotional time for parents and children. You have seen your child grow and develop for the last five years and now they are off into the big wide world. 

But what is your child expected to know when they start kindergarten?

A Reminder About Child Development

These skills cover a broad range of child development milestones. Not all children will be able to do everything on this list when they start kindergarten.  Every child is different and will develop at different rates. Girls often develop faster than boys at this age (don’t worry though, boys do catch up). Again, if your child goes to preschool, or has older siblings, they might pick up some skills earlier. 

Expectations also differ by state, so don’t panic if your child isn’t showing signs of these skills yet. You can take some time to develop them at home.

  • Be able to spend time away from parents/carers.
  • Be toilet trained and able to go to the bathroom by themselves. 
  • Get dressed and undressed without help (unless there are particularly difficult fastenings). 
  • Grip a pencil or crayon with a pen grip (rather than in a fist). 
  • Count from 1-10. 
  • Bounce and throw a ball.
  • Sort objects by size, shape, or color.
  • Be able to listen to and follow simple directions.
  • Be able to say/sing the alphabet and identify some of its letters. 
  • Speak in simple sentences. 
  • Play independently and with other children for short periods.

How to Help Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

Practice skills

If there are any of the above skills that you are concerned your child needs help with, then you can practice these.  For example, you can practice art skills or learning how to dress themselves.  

Get into a routine

Children are less anxious and perform better when they are well-rested. Having a set routine for wake-ups, entertainment, meals, and bedtimes can help you get into a good rhythm for school. 

Start doing this as early as possible so that your child isn’t experiencing too much change at home as well as starting a new school. 

That means phasing out their naps too. 

Practice tasks

Your child will be expected to perform a lot of different tasks and listen to instructions when they start school. If this isn’t something they are used to then start setting little tasks for them throughout the day. 

Talk to your child about kindergarten

Starting school can be a very scary time for your child. There are new surroundings, people and rules. Rather than just springing this on them, start talking to your child early about it. Be excited and encourage them to be excited too. Tell them how they are going to be a big boy/girl and how they are going to make new friends and have new toys to play with. 

Arrange playdates with classmates

If you don’t already know some of your child’s future classmates, make an effort to find them. You can usually do this through parent groups or Facebook pages. By getting to know some of the other kids in their class before they start, you can take some of the anxiety out of starting school with a class full of strangers. 

Foster a love of reading

Reading is a skill that will benefit your children for the rest of their lives. From their earliest days, storytelling and books help your child develop their language skills, imagination, and emotions. 

Reading can take many forms, from telling stories to looking at picturebooks. It’s also a great way to spend one on one time with your child. 

skills your child should have to start kindergarten


It’s natural for parents to worry about and compare their children’s development to others. Children learn at very different rates. Some develop their physical skills early, and their verbal skills a little later, and vice versa. Some children develop skills very gradually while others seem to make larger leaps at longer intervals. 

If you are worried about your child being ready for kindergarten, then there are many things you can do to start practicing these skills. Repetition will increase their confidence and development. However, if you are particularly worried, then get in touch with your pediatrician to rule out any other issues first. 

Remember, your child’s kindergarten can work with you to help improve any areas you feel your child needs help with. They are the most experienced in this area. 

Once your child starts kindergarten and starts gaining confidence, you’ll see their abilities improve drastically and you’ll wonder what you were worried about in the first place. 

2020 Kimberly Signature

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