Helping adults prepare children for kindergarten and life.

What Is Kindergarten Readiness?

Kindergarten readiness is a term used to describe how prepared a child is when they begin school. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is important for a child to be “ready for kindergarten” as

 “kindergarten marks the start of a child's formal education. A child's first school experiences can influence the way he or she relates to others through out their lifetime. For example, success or failure at this stage can affect a child's well-being, self-esteem and motivation. As a result, it's important to make sure that when your child begins school he or she is developmentally ready to learn and participate in classroom activities.” 

Currently, there are no nationwide kindergarten readiness standards or checklists, but states are beginning to adapt their own kindergarten readiness standards or guidelines. Check with your own state to see if they have statewide standards. 

Here is an abbreviated kindergarten readiness checklist that we have put together after researching current available state standards. 

Language, Literacy & Reading

  1. Say/sing ABC’s and can point to correct letters
  2. Speaks clearly and fluently in 4-6 word conversational sentences, can express feelings and understands 4,000 to 5,000 words
  3. Recognizes and can pronounce their first and last name in print
  4. Able to dictate a short story or narrative of the day’s events with some details for someone to write
  5. Understands the concept of a book- 1st page, last page, reading left to right and hold the book right side up while turning the page and looks at pictures to help with the meaning

Letters/Letter Awareness & Phonics

  1. Can recognize upper case and lower case letters- approximately 12-52 letters
  2. Identify by name and sound the letters in their first name
  3. Can tell the sounds of the letters in the alphabet and recognizes the beginning sound of a word
  4. Prints first and last name
  5. Recognizes the difference between similarly shaped letters b/d; /p/q; c/o etc..



  1. Count in order from 1 to 20
  2. Can recognize, copy or make numerals 1-12
  3. Can name and recognize 12 shapes- circle, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond, oval, pentagon, octagon, star, heart, line and curve
  4. Can match 4 of the above 12 shapes to things- Example: square to cracker, rectangle to shoe box
  5. Understands greater than, less than, equal to, first, second, third


Social/Personal Skills

  1. Plays well with 2 or more children and understands sharing, cooperating and waiting for turns and has a sense of curiosity and enthusiasm
  2. Respects authority and can follow simple rules and instructions and shows self control
  3. Can take care of themselves: bathroom needs, dresses self, cleans up after self
  4. Has 5-minute attention span to finished short tasks and show persistence at task at hand. Example: sweep kitchen, finish puzzle, tie shoe
  5. Use words to express feelings and thoughts and expresses empathy, emotions and kindness to others.



  1. Understands day and night
  2. Distinguishes morning, afternoon and evening
  3. Knows body parts and can explains how body works. Example: nose to smell, feet to walk etc..
  4. Understands 5 senses
  5. Can identify different environments: inside, outside, seasons, forests etc..


Motor Skills

  1. Able to complete a 10-20 piece puzzle
  2. Can trace around objects and basic shapes and glue pictures to paper
  3. Able to run, jump, hop, march, stand on one foot (10 seconds), skip, swing, climb and ride a bike
  4. Comfortable controlling utensils, pencils, scissors and other small objects
  5. Able to catch, throw and bounce a ball



  1. Pretends, creates and makes up stories, songs and pictures and is able to sing familiar songs, finger plays and nursery rhymes
  2. Is well rested, healthy and well nourished
  3. Can sit for a 20 minute story time and answer basic questions about the story
  4. Can easily separate from parents for 2-3 hours
  5. Solves problems with words not actions

Check out our blog for a more complete checklist.

Activity Skills Focus

1 Social / Emotional Skills

Skills that develop children’s ability to understand the emotions of others and help children recognize and use appropriate social behaviors (for example, making friends). In the Department of Education report “Guiding Principles A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate of January 2014 it states “strategies such as social-emotional learning programs that address non-cognitive skills, including problem-solving, responsibility and resiliency, can also help students develop the skills needed to fully engage and thrive in the learning environment.”

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2 Language Skills

Skills that help children understand and communicate during early childhood. The alphabetic principle (knowing letter names and sound-letter matches) aids in language development and is enriched by verbal interactions with other children and adults (reading aloud and engaging in conversation).

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3 Math / Science Skills

Math and Science skills help children with problem-solving and reasoning.  Exploring numbers, patterns, and measurements by using math manipulatives (beads, counters, pennies) are all ways children develop their math skills. Asking questions about their surroundings, learning a science vocabulary (predict, observe), and having hands-on experiences with their environment can help develop their science skills.

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4 Motor Skills

Motor skills are actions that involve the movement of muscles in the body. They are divided into three groups:
1. gross motor skills, which are the larger movements of arms, legs, feet, or the entire body (crawling, running, and jumping)
2. fine motor skills, which are smaller actions, such as grasping an object between the thumb and a finger (pencils or scissors)
3. sensorimotor skills which use the five senses to guide physical motions as in eye-hand coordination.

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5 Problem Solving Skills

Skills that help with the construction of thought processes, including memory, problem-solving, and decision-making.

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