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Starting school is an exciting time, both for students and their families.

However, many parents are unsure whether their children are ready for kindergarten. With varying kindergarten requirements, preparing your child for their first day at school can be stressful and daunting – if only for parents!

Fortunately, you won’t have to worry too much. With a handy kindergarten readiness checklist, you can prep for kindergarten well before the big day arrives. As well as ensuring your child has the skills they will need to thrive from their first day onwards, knowing your child is ready for kindergarten will give them the confidence they need to flourish.

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What does kindergarten readiness mean?

Kindergarten readiness means your child is at an appropriate stage to start their school career. Although children develop at different rates, there are some yardsticks you can use to determine whether or not your child is ready for kindergarten.

Often known as a kindergarten readiness checklist, this will help gauge what skills you need to work on with your child before they start school. By conducting your own covert kindergarten readiness test, you can ensure that your child has the key skills they need to start school. Ideally, your kindergarten readiness checklist should include a variety of topics, such as:

  • Language
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Phonological awareness
  • Social skills
  • Self-care
  • Mathematics
  • Physical development

By segmenting your kindergarten checklist into these areas, you will find it easier to assess what skills you still need to work on and plan your prep for kindergarten.

To get an idea of what to include on your kindergarten readiness checklist, take a look at the examples below:


  • Uses complete sentences most of the time
  • Understands words related to direction, position, and size, e.g., little, big, up and down
  • Can follow directions containing at least two steps
  • Comments about what is read to them and predicts what might happen next

Cognitive abilities

  • Can match two pictures from a set of five
  • Can classify items by physical features, e.g., color and shape
  • Recognizes repeating patterns
  • Can put at least three story pictures in order
  • Can organize objects into groups
  • Repeats familiar songs, poems or stories
  • Can retell a simple story after hearing it
  • Can identify five colors
  • Can complete simple puzzles, e.g., four pieces

Phonological awareness

  • Recognizes own name when it is written down
  • Recognizes familiar words and logos in their usual environment
  • Can point to letters in own name
  • Tries to write letters in own name
  • Has book awareness, e.g., identifies the cover and knows words are read top to bottom
  • Handles books appropriately, e.g., holding them the right way up
  • Can point to at least ten letters in the alphabet when asked to
  • Can identify rhyming words using pictures
  • Uses drawings to express ideas
  • Can match at least three letters to the sound they make

Social skills

  • Known own first and last name
  • Identifies own gender
  • Knows parent’s or caregiver’s names
  • Makes needs to be known
  • Interacts with others
  • Knows own age
  • Is comfortable when separated from parents and caregivers
  • Listens to a story without interrupting


  • Able to dress and undress themselves
  • Can wash hands independently
  • Can use the bathroom independently
  • Can clean up after self when completing simple activities, e.g., puts crayons back in the box


  • Can count up to five objects in a group
  • Able to match a number to a group based on the number of objects in the group
  • Can arrange numbers 1 to 5 in order
  • Understands the concept of adding and taking away
  • Can count to 10 in sequence
  • Able to identify at least three shapes

Physical development

  • Able to copy simple symbols, e.g., circle
  • Able to use drawing and writing tools appropriately, e.g., crayon or pencil
  • Able to use child-sized safety scissors appropriately
  • Able to run, jump and hop
  • Able to catch and bounce a ball

Is your child ready for kindergarten?

If your child is not proficient in all the skills on the kindergarten readiness checklist example, there is no need to panic! Very few children can perform every task on the list accurately and consistently at all times.

While the example kindergarten checklist gives you an idea of the skills children would ideally have mastered by the time they start school, these aren’t prerequisites. While your school may have specific kindergarten requirements, such as being able to use the bathroom independently, your child won’t be prevented from starting school if they haven’t learned to write their name yet.

Preparing your child for kindergarten

Now you know the skills to assess kindergarten readiness, and you can begin prep for kindergarten with your child. Of course, there is no need for formal preparation or kindergarten readiness testing. Instead, you can help your child to develop key skills by playing games with them and engaging in fun activities.

By doing crafts with your child, for example, they will have the opportunity to practice using writing tools and child-sized safety scissors, which helps to advance their physical development. Similarly, reading with your child will help them to practice their listening skills and become accustomed to handling books.

Play and socialization are extremely important for young children, so make sure this is part of your prep for kindergarten. Having playdates or socializing with other kids is a great way for kids to relax, have fun, and enhance their social skills.

Remember – don’t pressure your child if there are particular tasks or areas they are struggling with. While the skills listed above will help ensure your child is ready for kindergarten, your child needn’t have mastered them before they attend their first day at school.