6 Skills Every Child Should Know Before Kindergarten

Stressed out about your kid’s entry into kindergarten? Scouring the app store for resources to help your little one learn letters, numbers, shapes, and colors before school even starts?

That’s normal. But it’s not really necessary. We all want our kids to be prepared for kindergarten — and many of us turn to preschool and pre-K educational products hoping for an advantage. But the truth is, kindergarten readiness is less about the ABCs and 123s than you might think. What really makes for a successful start to schooling may surprise you.

We’ve rounded up the six most important things you can do to get your child ready for kindergarten, with suggestions for great media picks that may help.

1. Encourage A Love Of Learning

While kindergarten may be your immediate focus, you’re really laying the foundation for lifelong learning. It’s more important for your child to enjoy learning than to master facts and figures. Nurture curiosity, encourage questions, support critical thinking, and model being a learner yourself. Try:

kids toys photo
Getty Images | Matt Cardy

2. Help Your Kindergartner Get Along Well With Others

Much of school — and life — involves relating to and working with those around you. Kids who can share, take turns, play well with peers, and resolve conflicts are starting the game ahead. Check out:

kids playing photo
Getty Images | Bradley Kanaris

3. Support Self-Control And Planning Skills

Young kids are just beginning to learn crucial self-regulation and executive functioning skills. Child development experts call this internal “air traffic control” — and it’s key to success in school. Even kindergartners have to manage a lot of information, avoid distractions, and carry out plans. Help your kid practice remembering a sequence (after breakfast, we brush our teeth, put our shoes on, and go to school), curbing impulses (grabbing other kids’ toys), and adapting when things don’t go as planned. Try:

kids puzzle photo
Getty Images | John Moore

4. Talk And Read … A Lot

One of the strongest predictors of later success in reading and other school subjects is early vocabulary — and oral language skills in general. Talk to your kids, use challenging words, describe what they mean, read to them, play word games, make up nonsense rhymes and stories together, teach listening skills, listen to them, sing songs — anything that emphasizes language. These may help:

kids reading photo
Getty Images | Sean Gallup

5. Boost Independence

Kindergarten is a big transition into a world of strange adults and peers, especially if your kid hasn’t had much preschool experience. But there’s lots you can do at home to set the stage: Teach kids to put away their things and to carry out basic routines independently. These picks can help your child prepare for the novelty — and inevitable separation anxiety — that school brings. Try:

kids photo
Flickr | sweetron1982

6. Provide Opportunities To Learn The Three Rs

The “softer” skills above are core to kindergarten readiness. But if your kid’s showing interest, these cool tools can introduce the building blocks of reading, writing, math, and more. Try:

kids school photo
Getty Images | Mario Villafuerte

Written by Common Sense Media Editors for Common Sense Media.