What Is the Typical Kindergarten Curriculum?

How your child should prepare

Student painting in class. Credit: Caiaimage/Robert Daly / Getty Images

When parents enroll their children in kindergarten, they're often curious about the typical kindergarten curriculum. For example, should their child be able to count to 100, recite the alphabet or perform tasks that make use of their fine motor skills?

If they're not expected to learn these skills in kindergarten, will they learn them during this landmark school year? And what skills are children expected to know at the end of the kindergarten year?

While the goals may vary nationally, most states have adopted the Common Core State Standards and follow their general guidelines for the kindergarten curriculum. Understanding these goals will help you determine if your child is ready for kindergarten, needs to do some prep work or is maybe even too advanced for kindergarten.

Language Arts Goals

Kindergarteners should be able to understand basic sentence structure and punctuation. They should know, for example, that the first word in a sentence is capitalized and that sentences end in periods or other punctuation. They should be able to print letters in both lower- and uppercase.

In kindergarten, children should also know question words, such as who, what, when, where, why and how, as well as how to make words plural by adding an 's' or "es" in most cases. In addition, they should be able to use common nouns and prepositions.  By the end of kindergarten, they should be able to use words they've learned from conversations with others, by being read to or by reading themselves.

Math Goals

In kindergarten math, children should know the names of numbers and be able to count them in sequence. They should begin to get familiar with numbers 11-19, if not already. They should also be able to count objects and use geometry in the sense that they can identify objects by shapes such as triangles, rectangles, circles, and squares.

Kindergartens should be able to understand the concepts of addition and subtraction, respectively, as "putting together and adding to" and "taking apart and taking from," according to the Common Core State Standards.

In addition to math and language arts, kindergarteners need to master certain goals in socializationscience or social science. Math and language arts are a major focus, however. And many children who've attended preschool likely already have the socialization skills required, such as turn taking, waiting to be called on by the teacher, etc.

Wrapping Up

The best way to find out explicitly what your child should know in kindergarten is to contact the school you plan to send your child to--be it a public, private or parochial school. Try to set up a meeting with the school administrator or with the chair of the kindergarten department. 

If you meet with this individual early enough, such as the summer before the school year begins, you can use the transition between school years to make sure your child is on target or get him the help he needs if he's not. Because gifted children are often advanced, you might want to inquire if it's possible for your child to skip a grade or consider enrolling him in a more rigorous kindergarten program to prevent him from becoming bored in school or acting out in class. 

Kindergarten marks the start of your child's academic career. Do your best to ensure that it goes smoothly.