What Your Child Should Know Before Kindergarten: A Guide to Kindergarten Prep

by | Jul 3, 2023

The new school year is closing in and as a parent you might be wondering if your little is ready for kindergarten. I have put together a comprehensive guide to kinder garden prep: this includes skills that should be mastered before kindergarten starts and activities to help foster these skills.

Making sure that your child is ready for kindergarten is important. If they have not obtained the skills to move on there is no shame in repeating preschool.

These early years is the time to lay a strong foundation. I am excited to share ways to ensure your child is ready for kindergarten and make sure they don’t regress!

How do I know if my child is ready for kindergarten?

It is important to know if your child is ready to go to kindergarten. Keep in mind, not all skills are academic, some are social and personal skills they should have.

  • Your child should be able to follow a routine
  • Your child should be able to follow directions from other adults
  • Your child should be able to communicate and have control over their emotions
  • Your child should be potty trained and be able to wash their hands alone
  • You child should know their first and last name
  • Your child should know their shapes, colors, numbers and letters
  • Your child should be able to play with others well and get along well

Are there skills that my child should master before kindergarten?

There are definitely several skills that if your child can master before kindergarten will make things much easier. These are skills that they should have learned in pre-k and continue practicing over the summer.

Some of these skills are:

  • Name recognition
  • Make silly rhymes
  • Know their dominant hand
  • Share with others
  • Play kindly
  • Use scissors correctly
  • Name colors
  • Count to 10
  • Recognize letters of the alphabet

Having these skills mastered will help make your child able to focus on learning new skills rather than playing catch up.

Should my child know the alphabet before kindergarten?

Yes, your child should most definitely know the alphabet before entering into kindergarten. Now, this is not to say that they have to be perfect at the alphabet.

Children can still get confused on similar looking letters until the 2nd grade. The goal here is for your child to be able to sing the alphabet, distinguish most letters and their sounds.

How can I help my child prepare for kindergarten?

This is a wonderful question. Preschool has taught your little one a lot of valuable skills.

The best thing that we as parents can do is to do activities with your future kindergartener. Doing activities throughout the summer with your little one will help them to stay current and master those valuable skills.

What is the most important thing to do for kindergarten prep?

You may think that the most important thing to do for kindergarten prep is academic based. While I absolutely don’t disagree, I do think that there are other things that are important.

Love of Learning

Make learning fun! When you do an activity, try to make it fun and exciting.

Don’t push your future kindergartener past their limit when doing activities. This leads to burnout and will make them resentful anytime they have to learn something.


Encourage your little one to do things on their own. As they come out of preschool, they may have some independence so it’s important to keep encouraging those skills.

Maybe set out a basket of snacks they can choose from, give them choices on what to wear or how they want their hair. Something else I like to do is have my children order their meal at restaurants.

Social/Emotional Skills

Social and emotional skills are so valuable for young children. Taking them to the park, scheduling play dates, playing with other children that are strangers can really help to master this skill.

Taking Turns

Taking turns is hard to learn. Children are born with a naturally selfish mentality.

If your child is having a hard time taking turns, scheduling playdates is a great way to help them learn with other children.

Important Skills for Kindergarten Readiness

I have listed important skills for kindergarten readiness. These skills are important to have them exposed to and somewhat mastered, if not mastered completely.

Literacy Skills

Literacy skills are so important for children entering kindergarten. When most people hear literacy, they thing of reading and rightfully so.

While I am not speaking about reading yet (although, if your child is reading before kinder that is AMAZING), there are some important literacy skills that they should have before kindergarten.

Recognizing and writing their name

Recognizing and writing their name is very important. A lot of things in school are labeled with their name so knowing that will be extremely helpful.

They are also going to have to start putting their name on their work, so writing their name is a must!

Activities that can help:

Write in Shaving Cream

via Half Pint Kids

Spray shaving cream out on the table, countertop or desk and have your little one write their name using their finger. They can do this over and over again.

Use Magnets on the Refrigerator

Using refrigerator magnets, have your child spell their name. You can have them do first and last name once they master their first name.

Rainbow Name

Rainbow name writing is a phenomenal way for children to learn how to write their name. With the Rainbow Name Tracing printable, you can create unique sheets for your child.

You can also simply write their name for them and then have your child trace it in different colors.

Playdough Name

Using playdough, have your child spell their name. If you have the letter cut outs, they can use those otherwise you can have them cut strips, roll the dough and form the letters.

Find Your Name Hunt

In an effort to help name recognition, type out different names on a word document. These names of course need to include your child’s name and also some names that aren’t theirs.

Those names could be family names, or just random names and then have them highlight their name. Something you can do to make this easier is to put their name clearly at the top so they can reference what they are looking for.

Identifying uppercase and lowercase letters

Identifying upper and lowercase letters is important for children to know. This is important so that they can write properly using the correct case.

Here are some activities that can help!

Activities that can help:

Letter Dot It

Learn uppercase and lowercase letters using these FUN letter dot it worksheets! Use the Dot It Letter pages as a worksheet or a letter mat.


This game can be played almost anywhere. Ask your child to look around and see if they can find a capital/lower case letter.

Then once they get really good, ask them to find a specific upper or lowercase letter.

Homer Learn and Grow App

The Homer Learn and Grow app is one of my favorites for young children. This app makes learning fun and practical.

Sort the Letters

Use these magnets and mix them all up. Have your child sort out the upper and lower case letters.

Recognizing and naming basic sight words

Basic sight word recognition is important so that your child can begin to read. While not all children go into kinder knowing sight words, you can definitely work on these things beforehand!

Activities that can help:

Write Sight Words With Chalk

Writing words with sidewalk chalk is a fun and engaging activity. It gets kiddos outside and out of their typical learning space.

Flash Cards

Flash cards are a great tool to have to keep fresh on their sight words. They are great to have on the go or just for a quick activity

Sing Sight Words Songs

Singing songs is a wonderful way to learn and memorize words. I found some really fun songs to sing with kids, but there are tons out there!

Check out these songs that I found!

Sight Word Worksheets

Your students will learn their sight words in no time as they read, write, clap, color, trace, spell, find and tell! Use these printables while working with the whole class, in small groups, or even as homework.

ABC Mouse

ABC Mouse is a program that has been around for a while, and so many teachers and parents love it! ABC Mouse is a great online program for children to use.

Understanding letter-sound relationships

The ability to understand letter-sound relationships is important to build a solid foundation for reading later in kindergarten and 1st grade.

Activities that can help:

I Spy-Phonics

This is a simple and fun game to play with your kids. You can say I spy something that starts with b (make the b sound) and ends with t (make the t sound)

Hang Man

Use simple words like “pig” to play this game. You can give them 1 letter to start or for longer words.

This is a fun game to play and have fun with!

Use Flash Cards

Phonics flash cards focused on both vowels and consonants, identifying vowels in blue letters and consonants in orange. The front of the colored cards gives all the consonant and kids can fill the missing vowels.

On the back of the cards gives all the vowels and focus on filling in the missing consonants. Kids can learn how to spell sight words by practicing vowels and consonants

Recognize and produce rhyming words/ opposite words

Rhyming is so fun to do with kiddos. Once they get the hang of rhyming, they can rhyme on a dime, anytime!

Activities that can help:

What Rhymes With…

This is a fun and interactive game to play with kids. You can say “what rhymes with Bat?” then your child will respond.

Next it’s their turn to have you find a word that rhymes with something they choose.

I Say, You Say

I love playing this game! So how you play it is you say “I say bat, you say_____” pause at the last say.

Your child will have to quickly come up with a word. Next it’s their turn.

You can make it more challenging by having them say something related to your word.

Use Flash Cards

Engage learners’ matching, memory and word/picture recognition skills with award-winning Match Me Cards. Easy rhyming concepts are depicted in photos and words for letter sound clues. Each set has six child-pleasing, easy-to-follow activities for individual and group play.

Numeracy/Math Skills

Learning numbers is the building block for math. Until they can understand numbers, your child cannot understand math.

These skills are so important to have mastered before kindergarten.

Counting to 10 or higher

Counting to 10 is a basic skill for children to have down before kindergarten. Here are some fun ways to master this skill!

Activities that can help:

Use Skittles

Kids love candy, so this can be a great motivator for learning to count. Have your little one count the skittles in the bag, then separate out the skittles by color and count those.

Count with Fingers and Toes

Your little one has 20 fingers and toes that are great for learning to count!

Jumping Jacks

Get a little gross motor practice in by learning to count with jumping jacks.

Pickup Sticks

Before I mow the lawn, I have my kids pickup the sticks that could damage the mower. If you do this have them count the sticks they pick up!

Recognizing and writing numbers

Number recognition and ability to write is important to practice. Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to practice this.

Activities that can help:

I Spy Numbers

Play I Spy with numbers. This is great to do while driving because of all the signs and mile markers.

Numbers Worksheet

K5 Learning has tons of wonderful and engaging worksheets for children to work on! These worksheets are interactive and fun, plus there are so many options!

Use Number Magnets

I love this set of magnets because it comes with numbers as well. You can practice addition and subtraction with this set which is great!

Write with Chalk

I don’t know a child that doesn’t love writing with chalk. Get some rays of sunshine while practice writing numbers!

Understanding basic concepts of addition and subtraction

Addition and subtraction is one of the basic building blocks of math. Helping to understand how to do this is important for soon to be kindergarteners.

Activities that can help:

Use a Number Line

Number lines are SO helpful when it comes to learning addition and subtraction. Use a pebble or something to hop to the next number.

I recommend displaying the problem above the number line so that they can easily see what they are doing.

Use Beans

Use beans to add and subtract with. This gives children a manipulative to see, feel, touch and work with.

Do Some Word Problems

Understanding how word problems work is important skill to have. You can do something like:

Sally has 4 apples but then gave 3 to her mom. How many apples does Sally have left?

Count Power Poles

This is something I used to do with my parents as a kid in the car. See how high they can count while counting the power poles.

Identifying shapes and colors

When most people think about getting ready for kindergarten they think about learning shapes and colors. Kids love learning about shapes and colors because once they do, they can be seen everywhere!

Activities that can help:

Shapes Chart

This high definition shapes chart is printed on quality print paper. You and your kids will have a great time studying shapes.

Favorite Color

Discuss your favorite colors. See what your future kindergartener says their favorite color(s) are.

Learning with Skittles

A pack of skittles is a great and fun way to learn colors. Using skittles is a great and fun way for littles to learn colors.

Make sure to buy extra incase they decide to snack!

Use Shape Manipulatives

Shapes manipulatives are fun for little ones to discover and learn shapes. These shapes can effectively promote their recognition on shapes, color and space, stimulate their imagination and creativity. 

Color Quiz

I love this color quiz for little ones! It is easy for them to log onto or you can even make up your own quiz!

Recite days of the week and months of the year

It is important for kids to know the days of the week and months of the year. As we know kids are little sponges and using songs, and simple memory tricks can help to remember this information!

Activities that can help:

Days of the Week Song

This is a fun song to learn the days of the week! This song will engage your little ones and have them reciting the days of the week in no time.

Knuckle Months

via Life Hacks

Were you ever taught this as a kid? This is how I remember the months to this day!

The months with knuckles have 31 days and the spaces between the knuckles have 30 months (minus Feb).

Talk About Seasons

Discuss seasons with your future kindergartener. Sometimes it can be helpful to talk about what months belong in each season.

Ask them about the holidays in those months as well!

Months of the Year Song

This is a fun song to learn the months of the year! This song will engage your little ones and have them reciting the months of the year in no time.

Classify objects according to their size, shape, and quantity

Judgement is a skill that has to be taught and shown. Classifying objects by shape, size and quantity is something that is good to practice.

Practice makes perfect with classification!

Activities that can help:

Object Sort

Grab some random objects (they can be anything really) and have your little one practice sorting. You can have them categorize things that are large, medium and small or things that are long or short..whatever you prefer.

Which Holds More

Find a few different containers and have your little one guess which container holds more water.

Then test it out with them and see if they were correct.

Which is Bigger?

Get 2 or 3 objects and have your little one compare which is bigger.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are vital for children to be able to master before kindergarten. These skills are easy to practice and can be quite fun.

Holding and using pencils, crayons, and scissors

Properly holding a pencil, crayons and using scissors the correct way is very important and easy to work on at home.

Activities that can help:

Free Practice Cutting

What I mean by “free cutting” is to cut without a worksheet or a plan. Just let your child cut paper however they please to get a good handle on using scissors.

I like having them cut construction paper because it is a bit thicker and gives more resistance.

Coloring Pages

Coloring pages are great to help children learn to color inside the lines. Any coloring page will work, my kids like to use coloring books!


Writing worksheets are great fine motor skill practice. I really love worksheets with the dotted lines to help little ones practice.


Drawing is a fun outlet for young children to express themselves and practice fine motor skills. I love seeing children enjoy creating drawings and pieces of art.

Tracing and drawing basic shapes and lines

The ability to trace and draw basic shapes and lines is important so that your child can later independently draw and write these things. Here are a few activities to help:

Activities that can help:

Shape Tracing

Grab a shapes manipulative and have your future kindergartener trace around the shape. This is good practice for them to not only learn shapes, but practice tracing.

Trace Shapes in Shaving Cream

As you can tell, I love shaving cream to teach kiddos with. Use shaving cream to have them practice writing their shapes.

Cut Lines

These line cutting worksheets are perfect for learning how to use scissors. These worksheets are fun for children to practice their cutting skills.

Developing hand-eye coordination

Hand eye coordination is so important to develop from a young age. This coordination is important as children grow older and use this skill more and more often.

Activities that can help:

Threading and Lacing

By playing with these colorful lacing beads, children will learn shapes, colors, patterns, sorting, and develop fine motor skills. These beads have large holes making stringing possible for little hands, increasing dexterity, building creativity, and increasing fine motor skills with our lacing toy.


The simple design and bright colors are perfect for sparking any imagination, and it feels great to challenge kids with this tangram jigsaw puzzle but also to just take on an easy challenge that you can complete differently every time.

Perfect for times when you or your child just need to calm down or relax.


Drawing is a fun form of self expression and a great way to improve hand eye coordination for your kiddo.

Working Outdoors

Working outdoors, helping in the garden or working in the flower beds is great for hand eye coordination.

Working in the dirt, pulling weeds, etc can really help build that hand eye coordination.

Dribbling a Ball

Dribbling a basketball is one of my favorite past times. Teaching your little one to dribble a ball is a great way to learn hand eye coordination.

First have them start by watching their hand and slowly have them look up.

Gross Motor Skills

As children grow, they have to learn how their bodies work and what they are capable of. Keeping your future kindergartener active is important for gross motor skill development.

Gross Motor Skills to Practice

  • Jumping over an object and landing on both feet
  • Hopping on one leg
  • Kicking a ball
  • Throwing a ball
  • Walking on a line
  • Forward roll
  • Catching a ball
  • Skipping

Activities that can help:

Hop Scotch

Hop Scotch is a fun and easy activity to set up for your future kindergartener. I loved playing hop scotch as a young girl and it’s fun to get your children involved in too!

Jump Rope

Did you jump rope in school? Jumping rope was one of my favorite things to do!

Jump rope teaches amazing coordination for kids! Teach them some old fashioned rhymes while jumping rope!

They will never want to stop!

Obstacle Course

Setting up an obstacle course is a fun way to burn energy and teach valuable gross motor skills.

I love these obstacle courses for young children. They are easy and fun to set up!

Playing Catch

Kids love playing catch and it is great for hand eye coordination. You may start with a softer football or baseball while they are learning, and then move onto a real baseball and glove.

Throwing a Frisbee

Throwing a frisbee is a simple activity that is fun to do with a simple demonstration. Throwing a frisbee is a full body activity and teaches your child how to use their whole body.

Social and Emotional Skills for Kindergarten Readiness

Social and emotional skills are a big part of being ready for kindergarten. Some ideas for fostering social and emotional skills for kindergarten are:


  • Dressing and undressing independently
  • Using the restroom without assistance
  • Taking responsibility for personal belongings
  • Repeat full name and birthday

Following Instructions:

  • Listening attentively to teachers and following directions
  • Understanding classroom rules and routines
  • Participating in group activities and taking turns

Communication Skills

  • Speaking clearly and expressing needs and thoughts
  • Engaging in conversations and listening to others
  • Sharing and collaborating with peers

Activities that can help:

Choose Your Outfit

Have 2 or 3 outfit options laid out for your child. Let them pick which outfit they would like to wear for the day.

Emotions Chart

At different points during the day (especially difficult parts) have your child point out their emotion on an emotion chart and then discuss the emotion.

If it’s a good emotion, talk about why they are feeling this way. If it is a negative emotion, ask them what you both can do to resolve their bad feelings.

Simon Says

It is important to be able to follow directions from teachers. Playing Simon Says helps to engage your child and makes them use their listening skills.

Prep Before Leaving

Before leaving the house, have your child help gather the items needed to leave. If you are going to the splash pad ask them to help get towels, waters, sunscreen and snacks.

This helps them to learn how to take care of their personal belongings before leaving and in a foreign place.

Self-Care Skills

Self-care skills are so important for children to learn while they are young. Practicing these things before the school year starts can make things go much more smoothly.

Personal Hygiene

  • Washing hands properly
  • Covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Practicing good oral hygiene
  • Manage bathroom needs
  • Get dressed

Organizational Skills

  • Packing and unpacking their backpack
  • Keeping personal belongings in designated areas
  • Managing their school supplies and materials

Problem Solving and Resilience

  • Encouraging independence in solving simple problems
  • Developing resilience and coping strategies for challenges
  • Asking for help when needed
  • Separate from parents easily

Activities that can help:

Put Items Away

Once you get home from a day out, encourage your child to take their shoes, jacket, etc to their designated area.

Go on a Date Night

Okay, I know that this may seem like more of a parent activity, however this helps promote easier separation.

If going at night is too tricky with bedtime, then go during the day. The idea is to help your child be okay with you leaving.

Practice Hand Washing

Remind your child to wash their hands throughout the day. Encourage them to sing the ABC’s or the Happy Birthday song though 2 times.

Preparing for Classroom Environment: Kindergarten Prep

Preparing for a classroom environment is so important for future kindergarteners. The ability to adapt to a new environment is so important for kiddos!

Introduction to routines

  • Establishing regular sleep and mealtime routines
  • Practicing structured activities at home
  • Familiarizing your child with the concept of a daily schedule

Exposure to Books and Reading

  • Reading aloud to your child regularly
  • Encouraging independent book exploration
  • Discussing stories and asking questions to develop comprehension skills

Visit the School

  • Taking your child to visit their future kindergarten and meet the teachers
  • Familiarizing them with the school environment and playground
  • Addressing any fears or anxieties about starting school

Activities that can help:

Set a Timer

Setting a timer for activity changes is a good idea for easy transition. I actually do this with my kids for bedtime and it works great.

Warn them that when the timer goes off that they will have to move onto the next activity.

Reading Time

Set aside 20-30 minutes for book exploration. This should be quiet and independent.

This helps them to learn how to do tasks independently and quietly.

Discuss the Weekly Family Calendar

To help familiarize your children with a daily schedule, take some time to discuss the weekly calendar. Maybe write out the bigger events like play dates, church, birthday parties, etc so that they can see them coming up.

There are many things that a child should be able to do before they go to kindergarten. Not all of these skills have to be mastered, but they should at least be able to do them with some help.

What skills do you feel like need to be mastered before starting kindergarten? Do you have any tips and tricks to share?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!