There are a few milestones that should be reached before they toddle through the door, says Alise McGregor, founder of Little Newtons, an early education center with locations in Minnesota and Illinois.
“New parents especially can have a hard time understanding that there are actually things their child should know prior to kindergarten,” McGregor says. “But if they take time to make sure their child knows some basics, it will make kindergarten a better experience.”
McGregor says the typical things a child should know prior to entering kindergarten are:
1. Basic shapes.
The child should have learned basic shapes like the square, circle, rectangle and triangle in preschool. If not, parents should teach them. In kindergarten, they will probably be introduced to the hexagon, star, heart and octagon.
2. The letters of the child’s name.
They should at least be able to recognize the letters of their name. In kindergarten, they will learn their uppercase letters and begin lowercase letters. They will also begin to learn how to write freehand without tracing.
3. Numbers one to 10.
Although some children will be able to count to 100 by the time they reach kindergarten, all should be able to at least count to 10. Numbers will be used starting on the first day of kindergarten so the children need to at least understand and recognize numbers.
4. Social skills.
The child should be able to follow directions, be able to be separated from the caregiver and use the restroom independently. Children who scream and cry when they are separated from caregivers disrupt the rest of the class. Teachers simply do not have the time to supervise individual students who cannot independently use the restroom.
McGregor says that it is important for children to get off on the right foot early in school. By teaching children these skills prior to attending kindergarten it should make it easier for them to succeed.