Kindergarten Readiness

I was asked to present my thoughts on Kindergarten Readiness at Open Mike Monday on January 24. Below are activities you might try with your child to help them prepare for kindergarten.

Social and Emotional

  • Give your child opportunities to interact with other children in preschool or social groups or playdates.
  • Teach your child how to express their feelings if they do not like something.
  • Role-play different situations they might experience on the playground or at school. Help them find solutions for typical problems they might encounter.
  • Give your child two and three-step directions. For example: “Put the toy away, pick a book to read, and sit on the couch.”
  • Play Simon Says with two or three-step directions. For example: “Simon Says touch your toes and shake your head.”
  • Let your child play! Imaginary or make-believe games, board games, and “cooperative” games are not only fun but help support growth.
  • Read books about kindergarten or going to school.
  • Drive by school and point out “There’s your school!”
  • Attend orientation days.


  • Let your child practice dressing themselves.
  • Show them how to use the bathroom and wash their hands. Let them do it on their own while at home with you.
  • Encourage independence throughout the day. Small daily tasks they can that are age-appropriate include clearing their plate, filling their water bottle, picking up toys, dusting non-fragile items, or putting their shoes away in a specific spot.
  • Encourage consistent hygiene skills like washing hands before and after meals and after using the bathroom.



  • Build with blocks, string beads, and play with play-dough.
  • Write using all types of supplies including fat crayons, window markers, outdoor chalk, colored pencils, and markers
  • Work with your child to learn to write their name. Write in shaving cream, use chalk outside, paint letters with water and a paintbrush on your driveway. Write in the steam on your shower door or bathroom mirror!
  • Help your child learn how to use scissors – show them how to hold and use scissors safely.
  • Give your child old magazines or newspapers to cut up. Have them make a collage using scissors to cut out pictures and then glue them onto a piece of paper.
  • Encourage drawing and coloring, and talk about your child’s artwork together.
  • Have your child pick small items, like cotton balls or uncooked pasta, up with a clothespin.
  • Write numbers on a piece of paper and place these numbers in the bottom of a muffin tin. Have your child move that amount of an item (cotton balls, LEGO bricks, mini erasers) into the tin using tongs or chopsticks.


  • Climb! Gallop! Hop! Jump! Run! Skip!
  • Make a hopscotch to practice jumping. You can add numbers or letters to the squares and call out the square in which you want your child to jump.
  • Draw a line on the ground for your child to walk on. Pretend it is a tight-rope, a log over a creek, a freeway, and have your child practice walking on the line in a way that mimics the scenario you give.
  • Play catch or kick a ball back and forth.


  • Roleplay. Use stuffed animals to have conversations that help your child practice advocating for themselves or communicating their feelings.
  • Have your child help you prepare a meal or snack. Talk through the directions. “First, I am going to wash the apple. Next, I will cut the apple. Last, I will eat the apple.”
  • Read with your child.
  • Sing with your child. Sing rhyming songs, silly songs, or even your favorite songs.
  • Tell your child about your day and what you are doing, and ask them questions about their day.



  • Run your finger under the words as you read to your child to help them learn that words go from left to right and top to bottom.
  • Play games with rhyming words to help your child hear similar sounds in words. For example, as you are going up the stairs, name one word that rhymes with bin for each step as you go up. Nonsense words work too!
  • Make your child aware of the sound that each letter makes.
  • Find items around the house that begin with the same sound and identify the letter that makes each sound. (“Show me three items that start with the sound /s/.”)
  • Use those old magazines and newspapers to make letter collages. Have your child find pictures of things that start with each letter of the alphabet.


  • Count throughout the day (How many crackers are they eating for snack or how many socks that you are taking out of the dryer. You can even count the number of apples you are bagging at the grocery store).
  • Point out numbers you see in your environment and have your child name them (Identify the numbers found on food boxes or street signs).
  • Play games in which your child finds objects of particular colors and shapes around the house.
  • Play I Spy.
  • Make number collages. Write the number 5 on a paper and have your child cut out five items from a magazine and glue those items to the number 5 poster. Repeat!
  • Games like Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry-o, Candyland, Avalanche, and Memory are perfect for reinforcing math skills and practicing graceful winning and losing.

In short, have FUN! Your child will benefit greatly from the special time you are spending with them! Play games. Read books. Talk to each other. And LAUGH! Learning means so much more when it is enjoyable.