This is a heavy post, but I think it will hopefully help parents navigate what their child needs to know before kindergarten.
As an Early Childhood Major I had the wonderful experience of being in the classroom as part of my training. I was placed in a private school in a Pre-K setting, and in a public school, in a Kindergarten classroom. I really wanted to share with you all-from a professional in the fields eyes what is expected of your child because being out of the classroom for 2 years now, I am feeling really anxious about kindergarten readiness. I can’t wait to ease your mind and help you prepare your child. I was able to connect with a Home Visitor for Early Head Start (I also worked as an Early Head Start teacher for 7 months), a Pre-K Teacher, a Kindergarten Aid, and a Kindergarten teacher to bring you what a is expected of your incoming student.
In order to collect the information from these professionals I created a questionnaire for them to fill out. Below you will find the questions along with the results and then my thoughts on them based on what I learned from the Arizona State Standards.
Should they be able to write their name? On this question I had 3/4 Yes’s. One stated it was not mandatory, but it is according to Arizona state standards because the work they will complete must have their name. Their cubby, or coat rack will have their name, and they must be able to know where those things are located. When finding something that belongs to them after recess (*reminder* Label Everything) they must be able to read their name. Below are three great ideas to help children learn their name. 1. Rainbow Names from Mama’s Like Me. 2. Rock your Socks from Time to Play and 3. Learning your Name from Pickle Bums.
How high should they be able to count? On this question I got two answers 20 and 10 at least. I think aiming for 20 is safe, because according to Arizona state standards they should be able to count to 10 by end of preschool, but getting to 20 is what kids struggle with the most. They must also know the numerals so practice with the numbers in print as well.
Should they be able to sing the ABC’s? I received 2 yes’s and 2 no’s. I believe because in the state standards it says a child should be able to identify 10 letters, no the difference between a letter and a number, and know 10 letter sounds. For example if I asked Sadie “What is the first sound in your name?” she would be able to make the “ssss” sound. I would focus on the letters in the child’s name then build from there like the letter in their favorite shape, color, and the letters in Mom, Dad, and family member’s names. Never do the standards talk about singing the ABC’s, but rather they focus on the fundamentals of the ABC’s.
Should they be able to write the ABC’s? I received 1 yes and 3 no’s. I did cover a little of this in the previous question, but as far as writing goes they are not required to know how to write their ABC’s, but must know how to write their own name, hold a pencil correctly, and know that print is written from left to right.
Should they be able to name shapes? I received all yes’s. The state standards are pretty clear as well as the professionals, they must know basic 2 dimensional shapes and their characteristics such as 4 sides and 3 corners/points. Below is a poster with some shapes to start with, and this Melissa & Doug Wooden Shape Sorting Clock was one of Sadie’s favorite toys! I love that this toys covers colors, shapes, and numbers.
Should they be able to draw shapes? I received 2 yes’s and 2 “It would be nice, but it is not mandatory”. According to state standards they must be able to draw basic shapes as well, and trust me once you have introduced the shapes through play, started pointing them out in their surroundings, (they will happily do the same-every time we passed a stop sign, Mommy, Mommy look an octagon), as well as start drawing them out of interest. I love this activity from Teaching Boys because it is hands on which kids LOVE, messy (of course they love messy), and great for learning. It can also be done inside of a dollar store cookie sheet for minimal mess.
Should they know the colors? In this question I received all yes’s. Likewise the standards never address colors specifically but in the science standards it states children “must be able to describe objects color, position, roundness, shape,
size, number of corners, etc.”
Should they know how to use scissors? I received one yes and 3 “It would be nice, but it is not mandatory”. In the Arizona State Standards I did not find anywhere that it stated a child must be able to use a pair of scissors by the end of preschool, but it did state under the fine arts strand that a child must be able to “use a variety of materials/media, tools and techniques to create original works of art”.
What other task do you think a kindergartener should be prepared with? One teacher said, “Proper pencil grip is the most important thing they can learn before kindergarten.” Another stated, “Phonics. Sounds of letters. Beginning easy reading. 1-2 word sentences with 8 pages. Bob’s Books are great.” Another stated, “Know left from right, body parts, birthday, phone number, and address. Those are a big plus when starting. Personal space and boundaries is a big one too.”
What would you like to see during story time and what can parents do to help prepare their children for that expectation? One teacher said, “I believe during story time children should be able to sit and at least enjoy the story. Parents should read with their children often so they develop an interest in stories.”
What would you like to see at recess and how can parents help prepare their children for that? One teacher said, “Children who can play well together. Parents can expose their children to play experiences with other children their child’s age.”
What would you like to see at lunch and how can parents help their children be ready for that? One teacher said, “Send lunches they can (and will) eat with in the allotted time. Send ready to eat food. Warming up foods is okay (in some schools) but it limits their time to eat their food (because of lines). You want them to have a full stomach so they have the energy to learn.”
What other tips or suggestions would you give to parents to help them make sure their child is successful in kindergarten? One teacher said, “Be patient & communicate with the teacher often. Work on what the teacher is working on at home.” Another said, ” Make sure they know the school and feel comfortable about where they are going to spend their day. If your school allows it have them meet the teacher, have them ask questions, talk about their fears, send them notes in their lunches.”
As you can see a Teacher’s expectations vary from school to school which is why I wanted to add in the State Standards.
I would love to thank all the professionals in the field who so generously gave their time to fill out my questionnaire, and share with us their experience and knowledge.
A special thanks to:
Preschool Teacher at
Also be sure to check out Donor’s Choose and help sponsor a Teacher in need.