Kindergarten Curriculum and Skills

Teacher with preschool students in classroom.

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For most children today, kindergarten is the new first grade. The kindergarten lesson plans that are currently used by teachers are a far cry from the kindergarten activities that were emphasized just a few decades ago. Kindergartners today are spending less time on play and more time on academic pursuits such as reading, writing, and math. Many kindergarten classes are now full-day rather than the previous norm of half-day. And many kindergartners get homework, sometimes every day.

Your child's kindergarten curriculum may vary depending on what the standard is in your state and district. And children this age can enter kindergarten with widely different skill levels. Some kids may know the entire alphabet and many sight words while others may be struggling to go beyond a handful of letters.

Bearing that in mind, the following is a general idea of the skills you can expect to your child to learn as they become immersed in kindergarten lesson plans.

Kindergarten Social Skills

  • Develop better self-control skills such as sitting still and listening quietly
  • Learn how to follow directions
  • Become more skilled at cooperating with others
  • Discuss families, holidays, and other things about their worlds

Kindergarten Reading and Writing

  • Review letters of the alphabet and corresponding sounds
  • Learn lowercase and uppercase letters
  • Learn sight words or frequently-used words such as "the," "and" and "is"
  • Write about themselves and write stories together as a class with the teacher's help
  • Learn stories, songs, and rhyming words
  • Talk about stories after reading them (a demonstration of reading comprehension) including predicting what may happen next, trying to guess what characters might be thinking or feeling, re-telling what happened in the stories
  • Write words with spelling guessed by the child (invented spelling)
  • Write letters to mom and dad
  • Label pictures they've illustrated

Kindergarten Math

  • Count things around the classroom, such as how many days they've been at school, how many blocks are in a bin, etc.
  • Identify basic shapes such as circle, square, triangle, etc.
  • Recognize numerals up to 20 or beyond
  • Count by 5s or 10s
  • Tackle basic addition and subtraction
  • Understand concepts such as "more than" or "equal to"
  • Create patterns with small objects and sort into groups by color and size
  • Identify coins (be able to distinguish between pennies, dimes, etc.)

Kindergarten Science

Many kindergarten teachers take advantage of young children's natural curiosity to help them learn about their world.

  • Explore their world through observation and experimentation
  • Discover what animals and plants need to live and grow
  • Learn about the parts of the body and the senses
  • Learn about changes in seasons and weather
  • Become familiar with elements that make up our planet (earth, sand, rocks, water, etc.)
2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bassock D, Latham S, Rorem A. Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? AERA Open. 2016;2(1):1-31. doi:10.1177/2332858415616358

  2. National PTA. Parent's Guide to Student Success: Kindergarten. 2011.

By Katherine Lee
Katherine Lee is a parenting writer and a former editor at Parenting and Working Mother magazines.