JOCELYN LAUREL

While many of us focus on the basics of letter and number recognition or reading skills, kindergarten readiness covers more than a few isolated skills. We need to look at the child as a whole, with all the skills and strengths each child has developed that makes him/her unique.

For example, one child may love books and have exceptional reading abilities, but he/she struggles with shyness that prevents him/her from engaging with other children. Another child might be very strong socially but still has difficulty holding and using a pencil correctly. Still, another child can do both all these things, but he/she can be very immature and fidgety and gets distracted in group settings. Despite these differences, all of these children are ready for school.

Having a background in pre-academic skills can certainly make the transition to kindergarten much easier. This is why I have put together a simplified list of kindergarten skills for each major subject (the 3-R’s or the “Reading, “Riting, “Rithmetic). If you think your child is ready to learn more than what is enumerated below, by all means, you can certainly teach your child beyond what is listed here.

Math skills taught in kindergarten:
• To count to 100
• Count by twos, fives and tens
• Add and subtract within five
• Understand how to add or subtract to get to ten
• Describe objects using measurement—the length and weight of objects
• Learn to compare two objects—such as bigger/smaller, greater than/ less than/ sort and categorize objects
• Identify shapes that are two- and three-dimensional—triangles, square, rectangle, circle, pyramid, cube

Math skills children should learn in preschool:
• Verbally count to 20
• Get familiar with counting objects up to ten. For example, counting up to ten toys.
• Once your child has mastered counting to 20 verbally, demonstrate skip counting by twos. You can line up ten pairs of shoes to demonstrate this. Count the shoes by one by one, then skip count by two with each pair. Once again, your child does not need to master this idea, you are just introducing the concept.
• Bigger numbers can be reached by smaller numbers (For example, when you have five toys, count them up to five). Then separate the toys into two and three toys, count the two and three, put them together and count to five.
• Use position words in context when talking: up/down, in front of/ behind, on top/ below, next to and beside

• The full upper and lower case letters of the alphabet and the sounds each letter makes.
• How words are read: from left to right, and top to bottom of a page. That words are separated by a space, and that spoken words and represented by written letters and language.
• How to read single syllable words.
• Know the long and short vowel sounds.
• Show understanding of a story by identifying the main characters, setting and events in a story.
• Understand how the illustrations support the text in a story.
• Recognize common types of text, such as storybooks and poems.

Reading skills children should learn in preschool:
• Recite the alphabet without singing
• Recognize each upper- and lower-case letter of the alphabet, out of sequence, at least 80-percent
• Write all letters of the alphabet in uppercase letters
• Say the sounds of B, D, F, hard G, J, K, M, N, P, R, S, T and Z when shown the written letters
• Tell the beginning sound and letter (from the list above) of spoken words when asked
• Write his/her first and last names in uppercase letters
• Must be able to explain that the letters and words on the page represent the words being read out loud, and that you read the words in the order on the page, and from left to right.
• Recite all seven days of the week
• Recite all twelve months of the year

Writing skills taught in kindergarten:
• Write all upper and lower case letters of the alphabet
• Spell simple one syllable words
• Draw a square, a circle, and a triangle
• Draw a recognizable person with head, torso, two hands, two legs and feet
• Draw a human face with eyes, nose, mouth, ears and hair
• Write the numeral that corresponds with his/her age
• Write his/her first and last names in uppercase letters
• Spell simple one syllable words

Writing skills children should learn in preschool:
• There is usually an overlap between reading and writing skills in the preschool level, where reading activities directly support pre-kinder writing skills.
• Color and draw pictures. Being familiar with writing tools and knowing how to do even simple drawings will prepare them for using drawings to tell a story.
• They should be encouraged to write their name
• Encourage lots of cutting activities to develop finger dexterity and eye-hand coordination needed for reading.

Remember, this list should merely be used as a guide. There are no single hard lines for kindergarten readiness. Some children would just be turning five, while others would almost be six; some children may recognize just a few letters of the alphabet while others will already be reading short words. However, good and qualified kindergarten teachers know that children vary when they start kindergarten and will plan their classes to accommodate this widely varying group of children.

Bottom line is, what matters most is not what your child already knows when they begin kindergarten, but that your child is ready to learn.