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Home > Kindergarten Readiness

All children develop and mature at different rates, but in order to be ready for a successful kindergarten experience, there are certain skills that are important to establish before that exciting first day!

The following list of skills are compiled from several different sources including:

  • Physical Therapy and Occupational therapy 60 month assessments of motor skills and self care.
  • Pennsylvania education standards
  • Kindergarten Teacher Readines Guides from 8 different school districts in the central Pennsylvania area
  • Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics

*Note: Pennsylvania standards are used as a guide. Most states have very similar guidelines.

Letters and Words:

Recognize and name at least 10 letters of the alphabet.
  • Read to your child
  • Point out letters in books and on signs, sing alphabet
  • Use a highlighter to highlight letters on cereal box or magazine, designate a letter of the day
  • Point out letters on license plates
  • Trace letters in hair gel in bath tub in shaving cream
  • Write with sidewalk chalk and paint brush in water on sidewalk.
  • Learn large to small
  • Learn with their hands first
  • Also make letters out of blocks, uncooked spaghetti, strips of paper. Write letters in sand tray
Match letters with the beginning sounds of words: B, Banana
  • Take it a step further, ask what letters start a word
  • Make an alphabet book with each page is a letter
  • Cut pictures out of magazines for each letter
  • Use magnetic letters and alphabet cereal and alphabet soup
Recognize rhyming words: cat, hat
  • Say nursery rhymes
  • Make up rhymes in the car
  • Ask what rhymes with hat, etc. sing ryhming songs
Recognize letters of their name.
  • Write their name inside of their books
  • Practice writing name
  • Identify name places.
  • Have nametags for child's clothes and belongings that they see every day
Understand concepts such as top/bottom, big/little.
  • Play concept games, "what is bigger?"
  • Can you put this book on top of your head, under your feet, on the chair, beside the chair. Important for letter formation and words.
  • Use these words while drawing, coloring and placing stickers
Use the words "more" and "less" correctly.
Recognize and name at least 5 colors.
  • Paint, finger paint, sidewalk chalk
  • Designate a color day, wear that color, look for that color, make that color food, etc.
  • Play the matching game: put construction paper on the floor in 4 different colors and have them go around the house and fine small items that match the color to put on the piece of construction paper.


Speak in complete sentences
Follow directions with at least two steps
Ask questions about the world around them
Say or sing familiar songs or nursery rhymes
  • Read to child
  • Encourage conversation
  • Ask about their day.
  • At dinner ask best and worst and funniest
  • Sing songs, nursery rhymes, finger plays
  • Ask them to articulate things, such as what are your three favorite things about your self? and why?
  • If they mispronounce words, gently correct
  • If there is a speech delay it is usually still developmental at this stage
  • Give children 2-4 step directions to complete a task


Hold and look at books correctly
Re-tell simple stories after listening to them
Make simple predictions about the story being read to them
  • Read to child often
  • Encourage children to look at picture books, model reading
  • Ask them to "read" to you

Numbers and Shapes:

Count from 1-10 in order
  • Counting with one-to-one correspondence is the foundation for early math skills. Can be difficult for kids to coordinate
  • Tons of opportunities to count: toys, cars, french fries
  • Count on fingers
Put written numerals in order from 1-10.
  • Number index cards and have child sequence them
  • Put number and dots on index cards and have children count dots and match to number for a matching game
  • Sequence numbers on a piece of string with clothes pins for fine motor work
  • Sequence playing cards
  • Count days on a calendar
Draw a line, a circle, an x and a +
  • Lines should close and intersect correctly
  • Start gross to fine, large to small
  • Use sidewalk chalk, shaving cream in the bath tub, sand trays and hair gel
  • Recognize simple shapes
  • Find shapes in the home/classroom
  • Color inside the lines of shapes
  • Make their body into shapes
  • Make shapes with hands

Concepts (same, different, patterns):

See the number 3 and understand this means 3 objects
Add and subtract familiar objects, such as cheerios
Match two pictures that are alike
Sort items into like categories
  • Sort while putting toys away
  • Put silverware in drawer
  • Help with laundry, sort socks
  • Ask child to put all the green matchbox cars on one side and red on the other
Repeat patterns: step, jump, step-step, jump, step
  • Try to get their whole body involved in patterns
Put 3 pictures in order by sequence: Planting flower seed, flower growing, picking flower.

Self Care:

Put on clothes independently
Put on jacket independently
Attempt zippers and buttons
Attempt to tie shoes
Use bathroom independently
Wash hands independently
Open food containers independently
Use good habits (chew with mouth closed, cover mouth when coughing)
Tell first and last name, full address and telephone number
Recognize dangerous or harmful objects or situations
  • Just practice all of these activities
  • Any fine motor activities will help with dexterity for zippers and buttons.
  • Practice tying shoes
  • Backward chaining

Gross Motor Skills:

Run, jump, hop on one foot with ease
  • Tag
  • Simon Says
  • Song games
  • Trampoline jumping
  • Imitating animals
Balance on one foot with hands on hips for 10 seconds.
Stand on tip toes for 8 seconds
  • Yoga poses
  • Stand on one foot or tip toes while counting to 10, or saying ABCs or singing a song walk on balance beam or line of tape on the floor
Imitate movements
  • Mirror game
  • Imitating motions of someone dancing on TV Peers
  • Take turns imitating each other
  • Iimitate animals
Do at least 5 sit-ups
  • Core strengthening on a beach ball
Skip for at least 10 steps
Throw ball underhand and catch ball in both hands
Kick a ball
  • Practice these skills during games such as kick ball, soccer, obstacle courses
  • Play sports in back yard, work with large balls, then smaller, encourage climbing and pushing and pulling things
  • Obstacle courses and wheelbarrow race.

Fine Motor Skills:

Hold pencil and crayon with tripod grasp
  • Duck quack game
  • Pencil grippers
  • Large pencils and crayons
  • Play with eye droppers
Trace letters, shapes and numbers
Write letters of name
Write numbers 1-10
Cut out patterns with scissors
Lace string through lacing cards
Draw circle, triangle, rectangle and cross
Stack at least 10 blocks
Connect dots
  • two handed activities such as:
    • lacing cards
    • hole punch
    • stringing beads, stencils
    • pegboards
    • tearing paper
    • twist ties
    • pipe cleaners
    • clothes pins
    • zip lock bags
  • hand strengthening
    • play dough
    • clay
    • screwing and unscrewing nuts and bolts off screws
    • leggos
  • Practice the skills
  • Start cutting strips of cardboard, then straws, then paper, then shapes
  • Play with blocks, duplo blocks, pick up sticks, lincoln logs
  • Put together puzzles
  • Play piano or instrument
  • Computer keyboard
  • Squirt bottles
  • Sock puppets

Social/Emotional Skills:

Appropriately resolves conflicts with playmates
Expresses ideas through pictures she draws
Start and join in conversations with adults and other children. Says "Please" and "Thank you"
Demonstrates happiness and sadness appropriately
Accept changes in routine
Ask for help when needed
Follows directions and rules
Demonstrates coping skills
Helps with clean-up
Waits their turn
Respects others personal space
  • Spend time at playground with other children
  • Play simple board games
  • Talk about feeling in books, movies or TV shows
  • Model and roleplay scenarios of sharing, greeting others
  • Social stories
  • Play dates
  • Encourage drawing and acting out scenarios to express feelings
  • Alert children in advance of changing routine
  • Provide children with a schedule of day's events so they know what to expect and feel like they are in control
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances and as always, please consult your pediatrician before using any of the suggestions or baby exercises on this site.
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