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Kindergarten Readiness

Kindergarten readiness involves much more than just basic letter and number recognition skills. But self-care and social and emotional skills are important for kindergarten readiness, too. It is important to look at the whole child and all the skills and strengths each child has developed. There are skills in childhood development that can help make the transition to the kindergarten classroom more successful (please visit the Activities and Resources links on this page on how to address these skills).  But don't put too much pressure on your child -- or on yourself.  The list of skills below are just guidelines:

Language Skills

  • Speak using complete sentences

  • Use words to express needs and wants

  • Understands two-step directions

  • Classify objects according to their size, shape, and quantity

  • Ask questions and is curious

Reading Readiness Skills

  • Identify some letters of the alphabet 
  • Listen to a story without interrupting
  • Recognizes familiar logos and signs, like stop signs
  • Write first name using upper- and lowercase letters, if possible
  • Identify rhyming words
  • Draws a picture to help express an idea

Math Skills

  • Count to ten without skipping numbers
  • Understand "more than" and "less than"
  • Can name basic shapes (square, circle, triangle, rectangle)
  • Can arrange objects in the right order (like from smallest to biggest)

Social and Emotional Skills

  • Separate from parents easily
  • Play independently or focus on one activity with a friend for up to 10 minutes
  • Follows direction
  • Asks for help

Fine Motor Skills

  • Grip a pencil, crayon, or marker correctly (with the thumb and forefinger supporting the tip)
  • Use scissors, glue, paint, and other art materials with relative ease
  • Put together a simple puzzle

Self-Care Skills

  • Manage bathroom needs
  • Clean up after self 
  • Get dressed 
  • Knows their full name, phone number, and birthday

Gross Motor Skills

  • Bounce a ball
  • Run
  • Climb stairs

Kindergarten Readiness Checklist in English and Spanish


California Preschool Learning Foundations
The California Preschool Learning Foundations outline key knowledge and skills that most children can achieve when provided with the kinds of interactions, instruction, and environments that research has shown to promote early learning and development. The foundations can provide early childhood educators, parents, and the public with a clear understanding of the wide range of knowledge and skills that preschool children typically attain when given the benefits of a high-quality preschool program

Kid Builders Resources
This fun and free, activity-packed resource helps your children grow up healthy and ready to succeed in school and life.

OC Public Libraries
Explore all the programs, resources and events offered by the OC Public Libraries, including its Kindergarten Readiness page.


As a parent, you play an important role in your child’s development and learning! Everything you and your child do together will teach important lessons that will help them grow and learn about their world.  Even simple everyday events provide excellent opportunities to enhance your child's development.

As your child's first teacher, you play a critical role in supporting kindergarten readiness.  You may be wondering what you can do at home to promote skills that will help your child to be successful in school.

Play is Children's Work 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. While children do need time to play alone and with other children, research shows that playtime with parents is also essential. Children want time with their parents. It makes them feel special.

Parents are encouraged to regularly find time to spend playing with their kids. This should include one-to-one with each child and group time with the whole family. If you are a single parent or have an only child, occasionally invite family or friends over to play. In pretend play, let the child develop the story. Get into their world. Let them go with it. Ask questions. Play along. It’s OK to be silly and have fun!  Also, when applicable, parents can use stuffed animals or puppets to act out real-life situations that can teach problem-solving or social skills. Let the puppet demonstrate the wrong way to handle a situation. Then, along with input from the child, act out a better way. Afterward, let the child do the same.