Get Ready for Big School

Part 2 of 3 - Preschool Skills Checklist

12 July 2017

blog preschool checklist kindergarten preparation

This summer all over the world, preschool parents are thinking about getting their children ready for school.  As an elementary principal and Kindergarten teacher, it was obvious to me from the first day of “big school" that some children are more ready for school than others. In the U.S and I’m sure in most countries in the world, Kindergarten teachers accept each child’s individual level and work with it to grow forward. Yet, the “more ready” children clearly have a head start. So to be sure your child is in that group, I’d like to share with you some of the things that your child’s Kindergarten, Reception Year, or Pre-Primary teacher would love to see in your child that first day of “big school.”

When I was an elementary school principal and teacher, I told parents that above all else, playing with, reading to, and talking with your child are the primary ways you can help your child learn. But many parents asked for more specific suggestions, and often I would share a readiness checklist for them. I’d like to do the same for you in this article.  

Use the following list to help your child prepare for kindergarten. Please remember that your child does not need to accomplish all of these skills to successfully start kindergarten. Don’t be anxious if your child hasn’t accomplished specific skills.  Remember that these are skills that will be covered in most kindergartens, so your child will have an opportunity to achieve them in school. The best approach is to be positive about what your child can do, and less worried about what she can’t do at this time.

1 - Language and Literacy - Communication Skills

  • Knows and says their full name.
  • Recognizes basic colors like red, blue and yellow, and recognizes simple shapes such as triangle, square, rectangle, oval, heart, diamond.
  • Can complete simple puzzles of four to six pieces.
  • Names things that go together, like a spoon and fork for eating, a fish and a boat go in the water. The ability to see similarities and relationships is crucial to your child’s learning about sorting, classifying, and seeing patterns, all fundamental to basic language and math foundations taught in kindergarten.
  • Can count up to 20 and can count objects, such as oranges, up to at least five.
  • Recognizes and makes new patterns and designs such as red-blue-red-blue, or 2-1-1-2-2-1-1-2.
  • Understands and can follow short, two- or three-step directions, such as “Please get your shoes, your coat, and go to the door.”
  • Speaks clearly and in complete sentences so others can understand.
  • Uses pencils, crayons, and paper.
  • Is able to scribble and make letter-like shapes to express an idea.
  • Holds and looks at a book correctly. Knows that words are what you read. Knows that written words have meaning.
  • Listens to a story and remembers events and characters. Is able to tell you the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
  • Recognizes rhymes and wordplay. Is able to say or sing simple poems, nursery rhymes and songs.
  • Can say or sing the alphabet. Please remember, this is rote or mechanical learning. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your child can recognize each letter separately. Which leads to the next items on your checklist:
  • Recognizes the first letter of her own name. Is able to recognize other words that begin with that letter.
  • Recognizes and names some letters of the alphabet and is beginning to recognize some upper-case and lower-case letters.

2 - Physical Health and Development

  • Has large motor skill development enough in order to run, jump, and hop. Is able to do things like throw, catch, and bounce a ball.
  • Uses hands and eyes together to put together puzzles, cuts with scissors, and uses tape.
  • Can do some of these personal-grooming tasks without help -- use the bathroom, wash hands, get dressed, tie shoes, zip coat, and button shirt.
  • Visits the doctor and dentist annually. Vision, hearing, dental, and physical health are checked and treated as needed. Good health and good learning go hand in hand. Your child’s development can be negatively affected by poor health.

3 - Social and Emotional Development

  • Shows ideas and feelings through play. Uses creative play like music, dance, and drama to express him or herself. Check out our Pure Imagination activities for some suggestions in this area.
  • Takes care of personal belongings and belongings of others, such as putting toys  away, returning borrowed items and using toys with care.
  • Shares and takes turns. Works well with adults and children.
  • Can adjust to new people and places without parents being there.
  • Able to sit still and take turns talking and playing.
  • Shows the ability to be patient, such as waiting to be called on when the group is asked a question. Does not interrupt.
  • Respects others and is able to think about how others feel. Works and plays without bothering others and can change behavior when asked.
  • Expresses basic needs and feelings appropriately.

4 - Approaches to Learning and Problem Solving

  • Is excited about learning new things. Asks questions about the world around them.
  • Asks adults and friends questions.
  • Shows joy in finishing activities.
  • Can handle not being able to finish something and having to work on it later. This is the beginning of patience.

Practice these skills at home with your child in a positive and playful way. For example, sing the alphabet together. Practice making the letters in your child’s first name with crayons and markers. Make letters with our Super Simple Playdough. Make a Juice Box Puppet or a Tubie Creature and let them practice singing the alphabet along with you. Another simple way to practice kindergarten readiness skills is our Chatty-do’s. Chatty-do activities are purposely designed to practice basic communication and literacy skills. Using them, you can practice these skills in an easy, natural, fun way in everyday walks and talks.

Always remember, play is an important part of learning. And, it is the main way young children learn about their world. By the way, you can find out more about the essential nature of your child's play in my article Child’s Play Is Major Work.

Up next is the third and final part of my Get Ready for Big School series. I'll reach back into my time as a kindergarten teacher and share what is generally expected of your preschooler to transition to kindergarten successfully. To put all of this information into perspective, I also urge you to read my article on the basics of child development The Promise of Your Child’s Early Development - Make the Most of It.  I’d love to hear if you learned anything new about your child in these articles-- you can leave your feedback right here.

And in case you missed it, here's Part 1 of my kindergarten prep series, 8 Parenting Tips.

Photo/Credit goes to the anime show "Himouto! Umaru-chan" and it’s depiction of primary school tests marked 100% correct.