Kindergarten Readiness Checklist

Children stacking blocks.
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Is my child ready to enter kindergarten? That's a question many parents ask themselves as their child reaches the age of 5. As a parent, it's not always easy to know whether or not your soon-to-be kindergartner has the skills his kindergarten teacher will be looking for. Children develop at different rates, and it's perfectly normal for one  5-year-old to be breezing through "Frog and Toad" while another is still mastering her ABCs. And kindergarten today isn't what it used to be for previous generations. The phrase, "Kindergarten is the new first grade" is commonly heard among parents and teachers today for a reason: Emphasis on standardized tests and other academic requirements are putting more focus on reading and writing--making kindergarten today look a lot like what first grade used to be even just a decade ago, according to research and anecdotal evidence from parents.

That said, here's a short checklist of kindergarten readiness skills to help you gauge how ready your child may be for kindergarten. Since, as mentioned, it's perfectly normal for children to develop at different rates, especially in the younger school-age years, it should not be any cause for concern if your child isn't able to perform all the skills that are on the following checklist. It's also important to keep in mind that there's always time to help get your child ready for kindergarten. Many parents today also choose alternative options, such as academic redshirting, or the practice of postponing for a year school entry for kids whose birthdays are close to cut-off date (often in or around September for most districts).

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist

To evaluate your child's progress, answer each skill with "Yes," "Inconsistently," or "Not yet."

Self Help Skills

  • Can use the bathroom independently and complete accompanying hygiene tasks 
  • Able to dress self (puts on coat, fastens snaps, buttons, and zippers
  • States full name and age

Social/Emotional Skills

  • Separates from caregivers without excessive upset
  • Plays/shares with other children
  • Waits his turn
  • Attends to an adult-directed task for at least 5 minutes
  • Recognizes and responds to other people's feelings
  • Uses "please" and "thank you"

Language Skills (Expressive and Receptive)

  • Expresses needs and wants verbally
  • Speaks in complete sentences (5 to 6 words)
  • Is generally understood by adults
  • Uses words, not physical action, to express emotions such as anger or disappointment
  • Understands and follows two-step directions
  • Understands positional vocabulary (i.e. on top of, below, next to)
  • Holds pencil/crayon in a non-fisted grip
  • Able to control scissors to complete an intentional task
  • Traces lines and basic shapes
  • Copies basic figures such as a circle, square and a straight line
  • Runs and skips
  • Jumps with feet together and hops while balancing on one foot.
  • Climbs stairs with alternating feet
  • Walks backwards
  • Bounces a kickball
  • Attempts a two-handed catch of a kickball
  • Counts from 1 to 10
  • Recognizes/points to/identifies basic shapes (square, circle, triangle, rectangle)
  • Beginning to count with one-to-one correspondence
  • Can sort items by one or more attributes
  • Identifies, either verbally or by pointing to, the colors of crayons in the 8-count box (black, blue, brown, green, orange, red, purple, yellow)

Literacy/Phonemic Awareness Skills

  • Enjoys being read to/listening to stories
  • Recognizes environmental print (familiar logos, signs, and words)
  • Knows how to handle a book (i.e. holds book right side up, knows where it starts and ends)
  • Recites the alphabet
  • Identifies some letters and some of the sounds they make, either by sound to letter or letter to sound
  • Recognizes own name in print
  • Able to discern whether or not two words rhyme, may be able to provide a third rhyme for the words
  • Tries to write own name or other ideas by using symbols or letters
  • Can draw a picture to express an idea