Kindergarten preparedness: What to expect and how to get ready

March 14, 2018 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary

Will your little one be five years old on or before Dec. 5, 2018? If you answered yes, then chances are pretty good that you have already begun the process with your school district to get him or her signed up for kindergarten next year. Congratulations! That’s exciting for both of you…and, yes, it can also be a little nerve racking. But take a deep breath and feel good knowing that your child will be embarking upon a fun and exciting new adventure. The uneasiness that you and your child might feel right now preparing for kindergarten is not only understandable, it’s normal. Even if he/she is currently involved in a preschool or day care program, kindergarten is the beginning of a more mature phase in his/her educational career.

For some children, kindergarten may seem like a continuation of what they are already experiencing. For them, playing and sharing with other children and the routines that go along with a formal educational setting are nothing new. For others, going to school may be their first experience away from the security of home.

To help ease the transition for your child (and even you) it can be helpful to know what will be expected of him in kindergarten and what they will be learning. If your child’s school offers kindergarten informational nights for parents before the registration days, you should try to attend. There will undoubtedly be other parents who have the same jitters as you and the information that the kindergarten teachers share could be useful as you and your child prepare for kindergarten next school year.

What to expect in Kindergarten

Kindergarten instruction is generally focused on teaching children strong early literacy skills, introducing basic math concepts, and fostering an active interest in the world. “Kindergarten students get to experience something new every day so the day is full of excitement and growth,” says Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake kindergarten teacher Kris Gregory.

Below are just a few of the many things your child will be taught throughout the school year.

Language arts

  • Recognize and write the alphabet in upper and lowercase letters.
  • Write their first and last name with proper upper and lowercase lettering.
  • Use the sounds of letters and patterns to read words (for example, p + an = pan).
  • Identify at least 50 sight words, such as “and, can, have, is, look, see, to”
  • Notice and use rhyming words.
  • Retell a story including a few details, and put events of the story in chronological order.
  • Write simple sentences using sight words and phonics skills.

Listening and comprehension

  • Listen attentively.
  • Raise her hand or wait her turn to speak.
  • Carry out simple instructions with 2 or 3 steps, and repeat simple spoken directions.
  • Participate in question-and-answer conversations with classmates and teacher.
  • Work as a cooperative team member or partner on projects or problem-solving.


  • Sort and classify objects (i.e., put the stars in one pile, put the yellow pom-poms in another pile)
  • Recognize and write numbers 1-30.
  • Count orally by ones, fives, and tens.
  • Add and subtract using manipulatives (i.e., cubes, small tiles, marbles).
  • Recognize patterns and shapes.
  • Recite the days of the week and months of the year.

Other skills

  • Art and music: Experiment with different materials to make music and art.
  • Social studies: Identify major holidays and symbols of our nation; understand different roles in the community.
  • Science: Discover the five senses and use them to observe and learn about plants, animals, weather, and temperature.
  • Health and physical education: Start learning the basics about nutrition and functions of the body (i.e., use lungs to breath).

Along with all the new skills and academic knowledge children will gain in kindergarten, they will also have lots of fun! They will make new friends and build their social skills, create lots of projects, listen to books, use age-appropriate technology, sing songs, play during recess, attend field trips, participate in holiday activities, and discover so many new and exciting things.

Top 10 fun and easy-to-do-at-home tasks to help prepare your child for kindergarten

This list was compiled by kindergarten teachers from the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District, in Burnt Hills, NY.

  1. READ! Read at least one book (but more is great) aloud to your child every day, then talk about the story.
  2. Foster independence & responsibility by encouraging your child to clean up his toys and messes, open snack containers, wash their hands after using the bathroom, etc.
  3. Tune those fine motor skills by having your child practice how to get dressed; zipper, button, and snap clothing; put on sock and shoes/boots, etc. This can be tricky so offer words of encouragement and praise.
  4. Help your child follow directions by giving 2 and 3 step instructions. (Go to the bookshelf, select a book, then bring it to me so I can read it to you.)
  5. Have fun sorting items by size, color, shape and category. You can use lots of items to sort, such as toy cars, Legos, stuffed animals, beads, balls, etc.
  6. Strengthen hands and fine-motor muscles by cutting with scissors, playing with molding clay, and glueing pom-poms and other craft items onto paper.
  7. Play games! Put together simple puzzles and play games that encourage children to learn their colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. Matching games are great too!
  8. Count everything! (i.e., steps, snack crackers, crayons, blocks, buttons on his shirt, etc.) Count up to at least 20 together and up to 10 on their own.
  9. Practice name and letter recognition. Try printing your child’s name on paper. Have him/her trace the letters then try writing their name on their own.
  10. Sing! Nursery rhymes and children’s songs can help your child recognize rhyming

Tara Mitchell is a public information specialist for the Capital Region BOCES Communications service in Albany, NY. She lives in Malta, NY with her husband and two children. She’s an avid collector of vintage, fine and fashion jewelry and enjoys throwing themed parties.

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