While kindergarten is on the horizon and worries about what your child isn’t able to do yet loom large, you don’t need to panic. We’ve surveyed a group of local experts—trained and experienced teachers and school administrators—to learn more about the skills and abilities that reflect your young student’s potential readiness for kindergarten.
What are the most important social skills kids should have going into kindergarten?
According to these teachers and preschool pros, compassion, empathy, communication, and the ability to share are among the most important social skills that kids need to have prior to kindergarten. Being able to follow multi-step directions, separate smoothly from parents, and take turns also stood out.
Patience and self-control, perhaps two of the most difficult skills for young children to master, were also at the top of the list. And let’s not forget being potty-trained; kids are expected to be 100-percent proficient before entering kindergarten.
Here’s what the experts have to say (edited for length and clarity) about what social skills are necessary to your kindergartner's success:
“Understanding the importance of working well within a group; having a strong sense of self.”
—Barbara Oglesbee, Indian Creek School
What reading readiness skills should kids have going into kindergarten?
Preschoolers definitely don’t need to know how to read to enter kindergarten. According to the experts, awareness is the name of the pre-reading game. Knowing the alphabet, recognizing one’s name, familiarity with letters and their sounds, and rhyming were popular survey responses. Being able to spell simple words and match upper and lowercase letters is generally expected, too.
Our pros on kindergartners’ early reading skills:
“It is helpful if children have become lovers of listening to stories read aloud; creating their own stories; experiencing significant adults in their lives loving to read; have a developing sense of the sounds of letters; hearing a wide variety of types of literature and have growing desire to read for themselves.” —Oglesbee
What are the top math skills for kids to have going into kindergarten?
Our experts suggest that counting (to at least 20), being able to put things in sequential order, and number recognition are some of the top math skills preschoolers should carry with them to kindergarten. Identifying/recognition of numerals and one-to-one correspondence are key.
What physical activities are important to learn in preschool that will help kindergartners be prepared?
In addition to gross-motor skills (being able to kick a ball, run, skip, and hop on one foot), our panel says that fine-motor and “self-help” skills are equally important in a child’s physical development.
What’s one thing every child should learn in preschool?
Among the many, many things kids learn in preschool, these are skills that our panel prioritizes:
Oglesbee: “Develop a sense of wonder/curiosity”