6 things your child should know before starting Kindergarten

Follow these simple steps to help make your child’s transition into kindergarten smooth sailing


It seems crazy that parents should even have to think about getting kids ready for kindergarten, academically speaking. Of course you’ll want to prepare your child emotionally. But academically? Isn’t that what kindergarten is for, to get kids ready for first grade?

In fact, the research shows that children in play-based preschools do better both socially and academically, in kindergarten and in the later grades, than kids in preschools that focus on academics. That implies that kids who start kindergarten not knowing any of these things will probably learn them quickly. So the idea of kindergarten-readiness seems to me to be based on some problematic assumptions, at best. To me, kindergarten-readiness means the child is ready to listen to the teacher, and ready to work things out with other children.

But since the US kindergarten curriculum assumes children entering kindergarten will know certain things, many parents get anxious about getting their child kindergarten-ready. Luckily, the things your child is expected to know are all things that he or she can learn easily in the course of daily life, just by your asking questions (“What’s that letter?”)

So why not spend time with your child interacting about numbers, the alphabet, colors, shapes and coins? Remember, have fun with this. Please don’t test him, or resort to flash cards. Children learn faster when they see things in action — The letter T goes with that truck! Making learning fun is what will give her a head start when she gets to kindergarten.

What Kindergarteners Need to Know

  1. Know basic colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
  2. Know basic shapes: circle, diamond, rectangle, triangle, oval, and square.
  3. Know basic coins: penny, nickel, and dime.
  4. Be able to count objects to 10.
  5. Know the numbers to 10 and recognize the first ten numbers out of sequence such as: 2, 5, 9, 8, 1, 3, 4, etc.
  6. Recognize the uppercase alphabet and be able to name the letters out of sequence, such as: B, D, X, K, J, M, O, etc.

This list is from Stacey Kannenberg, author of Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten! Kannenberg also suggests that parents should give themselves the following homework, once school begins:

Homework for Parents

  1. Stop, Drop and Listen every day when you’re reunited with your child.
  2. Unload the backpack/homework folder with your kids daily.
  3. Read with your kids every night for 15 minutes.
  4. Play repetitive games with your kids.
  5. Ask open ended questions to help your kids communicate.

Tot-recommended products

Hape Chunky Alphabet Puzzle


This colorful alphabet puzzle provides children with an introduction to capital letters to take their first steps towards reading and writing.

Hape Chunky Number & Math Puzzle

One, two, three…counting is great fun for little ones with Hape’s Chunky Number Math Puzzle! This colorful puzzle provides children with their first introduction to numbers and includes mathematical symbols for more advanced learners.

Modern Blocks Shapes Memory Game

Modern Blocks’ Shapes Memory Game includes 20 wooden tiles that have various shapes painted by hand on them. This type of game is a great way to strengthen your tot’s vocabulary, hand-eye coordination and critical thinking skills.

Wooden Story Natural Shape Puzzle

The Wooden Story Natural Shape Puzzle Board game comes with a puzzle board and 6 different wooden geometric shapes to help your tot learn about shapes, sharpen their hand-eye coordination and build their confidence.

Modern Blocks Counting, Shapes & Alphabet Set

The Alphabet, Numbers and Shapes set from Modern Blocks includes 10 white birch blocks. The set counts from 1-10, has a shape on each block and includes the alphabet plus additional vowels.


Published with permission from Aha! Parenting by Dr. Laura Markham. 

Dr. Laura Markham trained as a Clinical Psychologist, earning her PhD from Columbia University.  But she’s also a mom, so she translates proven science into the practical solutions you need for the family life you want.

Dr. Laura is the author of the books Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings:How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life. For more information, visit ahaparenting.com