What can I do to prepare my child for kindergarten?

Is your child heading to kindergarten soon? With longer days full of unfamiliar faces and new skills, it’s only natural for parents to ensure their children are prepared.

To figure out the best way to help your kindergartner prepare for school during the summer, we consulted our baby and child expert, Dr. Aimee Ketchum. As a pediatric occupational therapist who also created the STEM Starts Now Digital Child Development Program, Ketchum knows what skills young children need and the best ways to teach them.

Shop this article: Crayola Sidewalk ChalkMiss Bindergarten Gets Ready for KindergartenGold Stars Wipe Clean Letter Tracing Workbook

Skills every child should know before going to kindergarten

Even if you think you’re behind in preparing your child for kindergarten, don’t worry. Ketchum explains that parents have been getting their children ready for school since birth. By creating educational play spaces, reading to your child and instilling good manners, you’ve been preparing them. Here are some other skills soon-to-be kindergartners should know.

Soft skills

The most important skills for kindergarten readiness are the “soft skills.” Ketchum said, “Although letters and numbers are really important, if a child cannot separate from the parent, they cannot even get through the door of the kindergarten classroom. Children should be able to be self-sufficient in leaving parents. They should also have the self-care skills to put on their own coats and shoes.”

Social-emotional skills

Children learn social-emotional skills by interacting with other children. Things they learn from experience are how to take turns, empathy, considering others’ feelings, language interactions and much more.

Motor skills

According to Ketchum, “children should be able to walk on flat feet, run, hop on one and two feet, kick a ball and throw and catch a large ball. They should also be able to hold a pencil with a three-finger grasp, write their name and shapes and color in the lines. Soon-to-be kindergartners should be able to snip with scissors and use a variety of tools in the classroom, such as gluesticks and rulers.”


While letters and numbers aren’t necessarily the most vital skill for incoming kindergartners, it does help if they know the basics. A few academic skills they should know include:

  • Spelling their name and identifying the letters in the name
  • Saying the sound of some letters
  • Matching numbers and recognizing number patterns
  • Understanding what “greater than” and “less than” mean
  • Counting to 20 and identifying numerals to 10
  • Simple addition and subtraction

How to prepare your child for kindergarten


Parents can prepare their children for the social aspect of kindergarten by “allowing children to have play dates, attend preschool, story time, recreational activities and youth sports as much as possible. Also, introduce structure into the day and play games, so children learn to take turns,” suggested Ketchum.


Children have a lot of emotions, and they should be able to recognize and label their feelings, as well as express themselves through play and language. Parents can prepare their children by being open and talking about feelings and emotions as situations arise. Also, Ketchum advised that children learn how to adjust to change and identify unsafe situations.

Read every day

One of the most significant ways parents can help their kindergartners prepare for school is by reading to them daily. Ketchum also reminded parents of learning opportunities everywhere, saying, “Use sidewalk chalk and bathtub paint to practice letters and numbers. Point out math concepts at the grocery store such as size, volume and counting objects.”

Arts and crafts

According to Ketchum, “Arts and crafts are great for learning, sequencing and motor planning.” They teach children to hold scissors, their three-finger grasp, colors and much more. Instead of planning crafts and projects yourself, opt for a complete kindergarten readiness box to help children learn essential skills.


Q. Is preschool essential to prepare children for kindergarten?

A. According to Ketchum, preschool is not essential to adequately prepare children for kindergarten, but it really helps. “If the child cannot attend a quality preschool, allow for engaging activities, social interaction through other means, and practice math, science and literacy skills at home. Also, read books to children every day.”

Q. What if my child is nervous or scared to go to kindergarten?

A. It’s natural for young children to feel anxious before heading to a new place. For most children, this may be the longest time they’ve ever been away from home. To make the transition easier, Ketchum suggests going to the school in advance to meet the teacher and principal and get familiar with the building. Parents can also make this new transition fun by playing school at home and using school terminology. Also, let your child be a part of back-to-school shopping.

What you need to buy for kindergarten readiness

best Education-Best Crayola Sidewalk Chalk

Crayola Sidewalk Chalk

Learning letters, numbers and colors is much more fun with giant sidewalk chalk. This pack comes with 64 pieces featuring unique neon, tie-dye and glitter colors. Plus, it’s safe, nontoxic and washes off driveways and sidewalks.

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best Toys-Best Crayola Bathtub Fingerpaint

Crayola Bathtub Fingerpaint

Don’t be afraid to get creative when preparing young children for kindergarten. With this bathtub finger-paint, kids can paint their favorite letters or do math while taking a bath. This paint washes right off nonporous tubs.

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best Toys-Best Play-Doh Modeling Compound 10-Pack

Play-Doh Modeling Compound 10-Pack

With this 10-pack of Play-Doh, kids can use their imagination to create a dinosaur or learn to share with friends. It also encourages the development of fine motor skills. This set comes with 2-ounce cans in a variety of colors.

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best Arts-Crafts-Best FunzBo Arts and Crafts Supplies for Kids

FunzBo Arts and Crafts Supplies for Kids

From cutting to squeezing to gluing, this craft set is packed with items that can help prepare children for kindergarten. It comes with feathers, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, foam letters, glitter glue and more.

Sold by Amazon

best Books-Best Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

Whether kids are anxious or excited about going to kindergarten, this book uses rhymes and bright colors to prepare children for the upcoming transition. Reading to children is also one of the best ways to teach kids about letters.

Sold by Amazon

best Books-Best Gold Stars Wipe Clean Letter Tracing Workbook

Gold Stars Wipe Clean Letter Tracing Workbook

Since it wipes clean, children can practice their letters over and over again. It can also be kept and used for younger siblings. It features letters, patterns and fun pictures to make learning about letters fun.

Sold by Amazon

best Education-Best Learning Resources MathLink Cubes

Learning Resources MathLink Cubes

Math cubes are a great tool to help children learn about numbers, measurements and recognition while having fun. This set comes with 100 cubes and 15 double-sided activity cards with challenges.

Sold by Amazon

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