Five Things Your Child MUST Know Before Entering Kindergarten (And How to Teach Them)

three toddler eating on white table
Photo by Naomi Shi on

Okay, I’m being a tad dramatic. Your child will still be allowed into the classroom without knowing these things, but I guarantee she will have a much more enjoyable experience if she already knows these five things.

Kindergarten is a hard transition. It’s a very big life change (for both of you). It can be quite the shock even for those kids who are well ahead academically. They become very little fish in a very large pond. There are many new experiences: eating in the cafeteria, recess, and (hopefully) making it to the bathroom in time. It can be very difficult for kids to experience all of these new procedures and then additionally be confused with the academics. Like I said, your child can come into kindergarten knowing nothing. The curriculum will cover everything I mention down below. However, they will not work on these things for the entire school year and they will move on to more challenging content. These items below are the foundation for everything else they will learn. I would much rather my child be experiencing these things as review.

Read on to see the must know content and how to help your child learn it…

1. Write Her Name

Your child should be able to write her name. This seems obvious, but many students enter kindergarten with no pre-school experience and they do not know how to spell their name or how to form the letters. This can be one of the easiest things to work on at home. There are many, many resources that are fun and interesting for your child to utilize. I would use a mixture of name tracing worksheets and more fun and engaging activities that are hands-on. Both are important.

Editable Printable Name Worksheets

Name Activities and Crafts

2. The Letters of the Alphabet

Don’t panic. Your child will definitely be taught this in school. However, there are 52 (uppercase AND lowercase) letters to learn the names of and how to form them. That’s a lot. Better to get a head start! As I mentioned, kids need to be able to identify and name all 52 letters. Pay particular attention to some letters that are commonly mixed up such as lowercase l and uppercase I, lowercase p and lowercase q, lowercase b and lowercase d. Ideally, your child should be able to form each letter as well, but being able to identify them is most important at this point. Similar to the name practice, I would opt for a combination of the more boring tracing and matching with some cute and fun crafts/activities!

Alphabet Activities

More Alphabet Activities

Even More Alphabet Activities

Uppercase vs. Lowercase Letters Matching

Uppercase vs. Lowercase Letters Game

Letter Tracing Worksheets

3. Letter Sounds

Thought identifying the letters was enough? Nope. Your child should know the sound each letter makes. No hate mail please — I’ve stated this before, your child will be taught this. Again, it’s a lot to learn! And the curriculum actually moves fairly quickly! Your child will have a much more successful and valuable year in kindergarten if he already has a basic foundation that can be polished once he is in school. Please note, for vowels, we like the kids to know the short vowel sound (a as in apple, e as in elephant, i as in iguana, o as in octopus and u as in up). Also, c as in cat (not ice), g as in gate (not gingerbread), x as in fox (not xylophone), and y as in yellow (not cry or sorry).

No surprises here, I again would practice this skill with some matching worksheets and then with some fun and engaging letter sound activities.

Letter Sound Activities

More Letter Sound Activities

Letter Sound Worksheets

4. Count 1-10

This one isn’t so bad, right? Your child should be able to count from one to ten. Ideally, they would be able to count higher and write each number as well. Sometimes we have kids entering kindergarten who can count to 100 (and they love to show you). Sometimes we have kids who mix up the order and cannot yet count to 10. It is a skill that of course will be focused on and refined once school begins, but there are many fun counting activities to practice with beforehand. There are lots of engaging counting activities and then some run-of-the-mill number tracing. Boring, but important nonetheless 🙂

Counting Activities

More Counting Activities

Number Tracing

5. Print Concepts

Huh? Print concepts is not a very common term for those outside of education. Print concepts are incredibly important and are the foundation for learning to read, in addition to all those letters of course. Print concepts are an understanding of how print works. As adults, we don’t think about all of the minutiae involved with reading, but there is a lot! Print concepts includes knowing which way to hold a book (not upside down, front vs. back), directionality (reading from left to right and turning the pages from right to left), punctuation (can you point to a period?), the difference between a letter and a word (can you point to a letter? can you point to a word?). The good thing is that these are very easy things to work on at home! All you need to do is ask some questions each time you read a book with your child. Here are the questions I would ask…

  • “Can you point to the title?”
  • “Point to where I should start reading.”
  • After reading the first sentence, ask, “where do I go now?”
  • Point to a period. Ask, “What is this called? What is it’s purpose?”
  • “Can you point to a letter?”
  • “Can you point to a word?”


I hope you find these tips useful! If your child is a little older or has already totally nailed these concepts, check out my post, Friday Five: Five Tips to Help a New or Struggling Reader. This post has five tips to grow your little reader once he has this foundation!

Let me know if the comments what other topics you want to get some information about! Talk to you soon for the Sunday Seven!


Five Things Your Child MUST Know Before Entering Kindergarten (1) copy.png

Posted by

An education blog created by Kim. A former elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom. Useful tips and tricks from a teacher to parents.

3 thoughts on “Five Things Your Child MUST Know Before Entering Kindergarten (And How to Teach Them)

  1. some things that people don’t think about… make sure your child knows their full name. So many children only know themselves as a nickname and do not know their given name. one-to-one correspondence — pointing to items one at a time to point to them. how to use scissors, hold a pencil, use a glue bottle and glue stick. How to sit and listen to a story.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.