School Readiness: Preparing Children for Kindergarten

School Readiness: Preparing Children for Kindergarten

school readiness

School readiness refers to whether a child has the skills to transition to kindergarten successfully. School readiness ensures that children meet kindergarten's academic, physical, and social expectations.

You can help increase school readiness in your community and prepare the children in your program for kindergarten by providing a solid foundation for the skills they’ll need to succeed.

School readiness goals and objectives

Early childhood education programs prepare children for kindergarten by helping them develop a foundation for their language, problem-solving, reasoning, and social-emotional skills. Educators must also help children develop their self-help and motor skills to prepare them for their first year of school.

Language and pre-literacy goals

Before entering kindergarten, a child should be able to complete these pre-literacy goals:

  • Naming letters
  • Saying the sounds of letters
  • Writing their first name
  • Recognizing their written name
  • Speaking in complete sentences that others can understand
  • Understanding and following directions with at least two steps
  • Making comparisons
  • Describing relationships between objects
  • Making simple predictions about stories
  • Repeating familiar songs, poems, or nursery rhymes

Problem-solving and reasoning goals

Before entering kindergarten, a child should be able to complete these problem-solving goals:

  • Matching two similar pictures in a set of five pictures
  • Playing simple memory games
  • Classifying objects by physical features
  • Grouping objects that go together
  • Understanding position, directions, size, and comparison
  • Completing simple puzzles with up to four pieces
  • Identifying colors
  • Understanding cause-and-effect
  • Drawing pictures to help express ideas

Social-emotional goals

Before entering kindergarten, a child should be able to complete these social-emotional goals:

  • Taking turns and sharing with others
  • Forming healthy relationships with peers
  • Socializing with more than one peer
  • Being assertive when necessary
  • Following someone’s lead
  • Handling conflict appropriately
  • Respecting others’ property
  • Working cooperatively in a group
  • Showing respect
  • Listening when someone is speaking

Self-help goals

Before entering kindergarten, a child should be able to complete these self-help goals:

  • Getting dressed and undressed independently
  • Using utensils
  • Brushing their teeth
  • Using the toilet
  • Washing their hands

If you're looking for more activity ideas that promote growth across developmental domains, check out our free list! 

Activities Across Developmental Domains - brightwheel

Download our free list of activities across developmental domains!

Motor and coordination goals

Before entering kindergarten, a child should be able to complete these motor and coordination goals:

  • Running, climbing, and moving with agility
  • Throwing and catching a ball
  • Walking along a straight line
  • Hopping on one leg
  • Jumping with legs together
  • Standing on one leg for five seconds while maintaining their balance
  • Skipping
  • Holding a pencil or crayon correctly
  • Cutting along a line with a pair of scissors
  • Using glue, tearing paper, placing pegs on a board
  • Determining their dominant hand
  • Moving rhythmically to music
  • Sitting at a desk with good posture and without slouching
  • Sitting on a floor with their legs crossed without falling over

Kindergarten readiness assessment

A kindergarten readiness assessment is a developmentally appropriate tool that measures children's school readiness, identifies gaps in their skills, and evaluates how prepared they are to begin learning their state’s academic standards.

Kindergarten readiness assessments aren’t required in every state. The Education Commission of the States provides a detailed breakdown of each state's kindergarten policies and whether the state requires incoming kindergarteners to complete a readiness assessment.

Supporting school readiness in your community

A study by First 5 Alameda County found that children's kindergarten readiness can be impacted by socioeconomic factors, such as their household income, race, environment, health and development, and the readiness of schools in their community. The study recommends policy changes and investments that communities can make to support school readiness in children negatively impacted by socioeconomic factors.

These recommendations include:
  • Implementing policies that support families’ basic needs.
  • Establishing early identification and intervention systems for children at risk for special needs and children experiencing trauma.
  • Promoting policies that build livable communities with parks and libraries, affordable housing, and safe, reliable transportation.
  • Recruiting a diverse, culturally and linguistically competent teacher workforce
  • Investing in professional development for teachers, including equity and implicit bias training.

Supporting school readiness in your community through policy changes and advocacy helps to increase equity and makes sure every child in your childcare program and community has equal opportunities to excel in kindergarten and beyond.

Bottom line

School readiness lays the foundation children need to meet kindergarten's social, physical, and academic expectations. Help the children in your childcare program prepare for kindergarten by teaching them the skills they’ll need, advocating for support in your community, and prioritizing your state’s academic standards.


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