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Ready for Kindergarten?

Help your child develop a love for school

Article by Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

Photography by Lance Thompson + Provided

Originally published in Meridian Lifestyle

Is your child ready for kindergarten? An important foundation for your child’s future, kindergarten is the beginning of his or her academic journey. I knew my daughter Kearney was ready for kindergarten early but because she was born in December the public schools in California said she had to wait until she was 5. I found a private school that accepted her and she flourished. Every child is different. Some might be ready early and others might need more time to get ready. Here’s a checklist of skills that any child should have before starting kindergarten broken down into social skills, language skills, and math skills.

  • Social Skills
  • Starts positive interactions with others
  • Responds appropriately to own and others’ feelings
  • Takes turns, shares, plays with others
  • Resolves conflicts with peers appropriately
  • Expresses feelings appropriately
  • Says “please,” “thank you” and expresses feelings in words
  • Tries to complete tasks Holds writing instruments with control
  • Uses scissors to cut with control
  • Can recite name – first and last name, address and phone number
  • Knows how old he/she is
  • Can use the bathroom, wash hands, get dressed including button shirts and put on shoes without assistance
  • Is able to adapt to new situations
  • Can run, jump, hop, throw, catch and bounce a ball
  • Language Skills
  • Speaks clearly and listens appropriately
  • Starts and joins in conversations
  • Can recognize own name in print
  • Can write all or most of the letters of the alphabet in own first name
  • Can name & recognize 10+ letters
  • Can name & recognize 5 colors
  • Matches letters to letter sounds they make
  • Recognizes words that rhyme
  • Recognizes common words and signs
  • Knows the meaning of descriptive words like big, little, etc.
  • Can use pictures to tell a story
  • Uses words to clearly verbalize a story or own experiences
  • Shows interest in reading and being able to read
  • Holds and looks at a book correctly
  • Makes inferences about the plot of a story from the cover
  • Can retell a simple story
  • Follows two-step directions
  • Can answer who, what, when, where questions in complete sentences
  • Asks questions about how things work
  • Recites common nursery rhymes
  • Math Skills
  • Counts objects from 1-10
  • Orders numbers from 1-10
  • Identifies numbers from 1-10
  • Can order three things in a sequence
  • Can repeat a simple pattern
  • Matches two like things
  • Sorts objects by shape, color and size
  • Matches items that go together
  • Uses objects to demonstrate greater than and less than principles
  • Can draw a line, circle, rectangle, triangle and plus sign

How do you know when your child is ready? A wise educator once told me, “It depends on the child.” While you are the best one to judge whether your child is ready for kindergarten, Idaho law requires a child to be 5 years old to attend public school. Kindergarten is not mandatory in Idaho, but should it be? Kindergarten is mandatory in states such as Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Sharon Mathews of Calvary Christian School asserts, “Kindergarten should be mandatory. The students who develop literacy skills early have an advantage over those who do not.”

Does your child have the ability to listen? Read to your child every day. Besides fostering comprehension and vocabulary, it develops the attention skills necessary for success in kindergarten. “Reading to your child is the best thing a parent can do,” asserts Angie Bernard, a kindergarten teacher in Nampa.

“Learning doesn’t start in kindergarten,” Christy Hall, a teacher in Kuna, points out. "Parents need to remember they are their child’s first teacher."


  • Challenger School:
  • The Ambrose School:
  • Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children
  • The Parent Resource Toolkit Resources for your child’s education journey from pre-k to college and career. Includes information on student well being including mental health.
  • Kearney Thompson starts kindergarten at 4 years old, photo credit Lance Thompson
  • Kearney Thompson with kindergarten classmates, photo by Lance Thompson
  • Kindergarten class at Laurence, Mrs. Beskid teacher center, Pamela Thompson to her left
  • Kearney Thompson with box and classmates, Rachel Finci and Nicole Lerner. PC: Lance Thompson
  • Learn about letters - Adobe download 199983270
  • Adobe 181753153

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