Reading and Writing Readiness Skills for Kindergarten

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What will children learn about reading and writing in kindergarten? What are they expected to know by the end of the kindergarten year? While the goals may vary somewhat from state to state, there are some typical expectations. This list can give you a good idea of what your child will learn about language arts in the first year of school.

All About the Alphabet

The ABC's are the first step to learning how to read and will likely be one of the first skills your child nails down. Help them along by singing the song as often as possible (even if you get sick of it).

Kindergartners will learn how to:

  • Recite the alphabet in order
  • Recognize and name all the letters of the alphabet, both upper and lower case, in random order. They should be able to recognize stand-alone letters and letters in words. 
  • Know the sounds corresponding to each letter of the alphabet

Reading Readiness

Armed with the basics of the alphabet, your kindergartener is now ready to read books. It's okay if there are very few words in them. Simply exposing your child to books will help foster a love of reading from an early age.

Your kindergartener will learn how to:

  • Identify the front, back, title, author, and illustrator of a book
  • Understand what both the author and illustrator do
  • Understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction
  • Name and imitate the sound heard at the beginning and ending of words
  • Blend consonant-vowel-consonant sounds orally to make words (h-a-t = hat; m-e-n= men)
  • Distinguish letters from words and words from sentences
  • Indicate where a sentence starts and ends
  • Count the number of sounds in a syllable and the number of syllables in a word
  • Recognize and use rhyming words

Reading Skills

Once kindergarteners understand the bare-bones basics of books and initial sounds, they will work to string sounds together and read basic three- to five-letter words and, eventually, sentences.

Along with analyzing illustrations, kindergartners should be able to: 

  • Use left to right and top to bottom motion when reading
  • Read one syllable words (i.e. cat) and recognize common and color words (I, the, red, blue) by sight
  • Use picture clues to read
  • Make predictions
  • Identify the characters, setting, and the main idea of a story
  • Understand the simple structure of stories (beginning, middle, and end)
  • Retell a story with details

Writing Skills

Once your child has the basics of the alphabet down, they'll also be able to write. Spelling their name for the first time will be an exciting moment.

Kindergartners will be able to: 

  • Write all of the letters of the alphabet in both upper and lowercase
  • Correctly write first and last name
  • Print correct letter symbols to correspond with pictures
  • Write and correctly spell some simple consonant-vowel-consonant words (i.e., cat)
  • Write longer words spelled the way they sound (phonetically)
  • Write from left to right and from top to bottom
  • Use writing (letters, pictures, and words) to express own meaning
  • Write simple sentences, showing the spacing between words

A Word From Verywell

These are the skills that are generally taught in schools. It's good to check with the school your child will attend to know exactly what they will be teaching.

If your child has already mastered most or even many of these skills, you might want to find out what kind of services, if any, the school provides for children who need advanced instruction. If your child has already reached these and many or most of the other kindergarten curriculum goals, you might even check to see if the school will allow your child to skip kindergarten and start school in first 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.