What Is the Typical Kindergarten Curriculum?

What Your Child Will Learn and How Should They Prepare

Librarian reads children a book during story time
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If you are going to enroll your child in kindergarten, you may be curious about the typical kindergarten curriculum and what you need to do to prepare your child.

For example, should children be able to count to 100, recite the alphabet, or perform tasks that make use of fine motor skills? If they're not expected to know these skills before kindergarten, will they learn them during this landmark school year? And what skills are children expected to have mastered by the end of the kindergarten year?

While the goals may vary nationally and by each individual school, 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 a regular kindergarten class.

What Do You Learn in Kindergarten?

Once enrolled in kindergarten, your child will learn basic concepts like reading, writing, math, science, time, shapes, and more. These skills will form a foundation for learning future concepts in each subject. Additionally, they learn important social skills as well as how to function in a school environment.

By the end of kindergarten, most children can learn to read age-appropriate books by themselves, and your child might like to have you listen while they read out loud at home. They also may be able to count, do basic math, identify weather conditions, tell time, and understand the basics of science experiments. They also should know how to take turns, be kind to others, and follow school rules and instructions.

Language Arts Skills

Usually, before kindergarten, most children can use words they've learned from conversations with others or by being read to. Throughout the academic year, your child's speech will become more structured and understandable, and reading and writing skills will emerge and advance.

As the school year goes on, children should be able to understand basic sentence structure and punctuation. They will learn, for example, that the first word in a sentence is capitalized and that sentences end in periods, question marks, or exclamation points. As directed in the Common Core English Language Arts Standards, kindergarteners learn to print letters in both lower- and uppercase.

During kindergarten, children also learn to use 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". They also learn how to use common nouns and prepositions.

Math Skills

In kindergarten math, children learn the names of numbers and how to count them in sequence. They begin to become familiar with numbers 11–19. They should also be able to count objects and begin an introduction to geometry by learning to recognize and name shapes such as triangles, rectangles, circles, and squares.

Kindergarteners begin to learn 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 Math Standards.

Other Skills

In addition to math and language arts, which are a major focus of kindergarten, children also learn sciencesocial science, and usually art, music, health and safety, and physical education.

Socialization skills, such as taking turns, waiting to be called on by the teacher, and being kind to others, are also emphasized in most kindergarten classes.

How to Prepare

The best way to find out what your child should know before starting kindergarten is to contact the school that you plan to send your child to—be it a public, private, or parochial school.

Many schools have a kindergarten screening session a few months before school starts. This is designed to identify children who need extra help or who are gifted and need extra challenges, and sometimes, there is a tour of the school or the classroom.

If your child's future school does not have this system, try to set up a meeting with the school administrator or with the head of the kindergarten curriculum.

If you meet in the spring or summer before the school year begins, you can use this time to make sure that your child is on track or to get some professional help with school readiness.

Most children are enthusiastic about getting ready, and it can also be a time to prepare your child by talking about being away from you for a period of time during the school day, especially if your child has not been in preschool.

Gifted children are often advanced, and you might want to inquire if it's possible for your child to enroll in a more challenging kindergarten program if you are concerned about your child becoming bored in school or acting out in class. 

Even if your child is academically advanced, skipping kindergarten isn't necessarily your only option. Accelerated courses or extracurricular enrichment are also possibilities. Some pediatricians and education experts recommend against skipping a year because it can be socially disadvantageous for children to be in class with older children rather than with same-aged peers. Ultimately, the choice depends on your child's specific needs.

A Word From Verywell

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

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  1. Institute for Educational Advancement. Should my gifted child skip a grade?

By Carol Bainbridge
Carol Bainbridge has provided advice to parents of gifted children for decades, and was a member of the Indiana Association for the Gifted.