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What Kindergartners Should Know: The Ultimate Checklist

Updated: Apr 17

Have you been searching for a checklist on what Kindergartners should know by the end of the school-year? Do you want to make sure you have covered the essentials and that you haven’t forgotten anything? These wonderings may cause worry, stress, and panicked, late-night scrolling of the internet looking for confirmation and clarity around the skills that kindergartners are learning.


If you are worried that maybe you aren’t teaching enough to your child at home and you are searching for a clear and concise answer to what needs to be covered in kindergarten, this post is for you.


We have the solution: The ultimate checklist of what kindergartners should know, which will save you time and alleviate your stress and anxieties around the question, "Am I doing enough!?"


Please be aware that there is an age range for when children develop these skills. Some children have mastered the content skills listed here before age 5 and for some it is not until age 7 - this range is normal and we are not suggesting that you are behind.


This list applies to children from ages 4 to 7. In terms of grade-level, this list identifies what kindergartners, in general, are expected to know and be able to do by the end of the school year.


For those families who have a little one beginning kindergarten you can use this list to guide you through your planning for the upcoming year!


We recommend using this list as a checklist. Check off the areas where your child is on track (give yourself a pat on the back) and identify areas for focused attention over the next few months. Also, it is not a race, so give yourself some grace and take the time you need to help your child meet these benchmarks.


This comprehensive list is based on extensive research into the expectations for kindergarten. We recognize that each state and even individual districts or schools might have varied expectations. If you are planning to send your child back to school in the fall, be sure to cross check this list with a list of skills from the district/school in which your child will be enrolled.


We also recognize that for families who are full-time homeschooling for years to come, this checklist might be something you use loosely, knowing that you can easily extend the learning of these skills into future years!


Read on for a complete, comprehensive list of everything typically covered in kindergarten - including all subjects (Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music), as well as fine and gross motor skills, readiness to learn and social-emotional skills.


You can also click below to receive this list as a printable PDF check-list for easy reference.


FREE printable PDF: What Kindergarteners Should Know - The Ultimate Checklist



Math


Number Sense, Spatial Reasoning, & Logic

  • Estimate - make a thoughtful guess about how many objects you see

  • Subitize - recognize how many are in a small set of objects without counting

  • Identify shapes within a shape (e.g., see there are 5 squares when you place 4 Magna-tile squares next to each other in the shape of a larger square)

  • Be able to identify and add on to simple patterns

Numbers & Counting

  • Count by 1’s and by 10’s to 100

  • One-to-one correspondence - knowing that each item gets one count

  • Cardinality - knowing the last count is the total number of objects in a set

  • Count up to 20 objects to answer “How many?”

  • Count-on from numbers other than 1

  • Count-down from any number 10 or less

  • Number recognition of numbers 0 to 20

  • Represent numbers 1 to 20 with objects or drawings

  • Write numbers 0 to 20

  • Use objects to show how to break up numbers less than or equal to 10 into different number pairs (e.g., 8 can be 7+1, 6+2, 5+3, 4+4)

Categorizing & Comparing

  • Compare objects based on measurable attributes (e.g. bigger, smaller; taller, shorter)

  • Put objects in two different categories, count how many are in each group, and compare; Compare sets of objects by lining them up

  • Compare numbers up to 20 using symbols (>, <, =), knowing which number is greater based on the number sequence

Addition & Subtraction

  • Understand addition (putting together) and subtraction (taking apart)

  • Solve addition problems up to a sum of 10

  • Solve subtraction problems that begin with 10 or less

  • Show, explain, or draw how you solved the addition and subtraction problems

  • Solve addition and subtraction word problems

  • Be able to write a plus, minus, and equal sign

  • Understand that the equal sign means “the same as”

  • Find number pairs that make each number 0 to 10

  • Commit to memory number pairs up to a sum of 5

Measurement & Geometry

  • Describe the position of shapes (e.g., above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to)

  • Point out the measurable attributes of an object (e.g., length, weight, size) and generally have a sense what these mean

  • Recognize that we can measure things like temperature and time

  • Identify two-dimensional shapes by name in everyday situations (square, rectangle, triangle, rhombus, trapezoid, hexagon)

  • Compare 2-D shapes by number of sides

  • Compare lengths of sides of 2-D shapes using descriptive words (i.e., longer, shorter, same size)

  • Compose a different shape from bringing together two 2-dimensional shapes

  • Identify shapes as 2-dimensional (“flat”) or 3-dimensional (“pops out at you”)

  • Identify three-dimensional shapes by name in everyday situations (cone, cylinder, sphere, cube)

  • Understand that size and position does not change the name of a shape

Money & Time

  • Count by 1’s for pennies and by 10’s for dimes to determine “How many cents?”

  • Identify the name of other coins and their values (e.g., nickel: 5 cents, quarter: 25 cents)

  • Read the numbers on a digital clock and understand that this tells us the time

  • Develop a general sense of time as measured in different units - seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years

  • Understand how the hands work on an analog clock to recognize time on the hour and half hour


Language Arts


Reading Comprehension

  • Ask and answer questions about key details in a text

  • Retell familiar stories

  • Identify characters, settings, and major events in a book

  • Name & explain the role of the author & illustrator

  • Recognize common types of texts such as story books or poems

  • Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a book.

  • Describe the relationship between illustrations in a book and the events in the story.

  • Compare and contrast the adventures and characters of one story with those in another story.

  • Participate in collaborative conversations

  • Follow agreed upon rules for discussions (e.g., listen to others, take turns, stay on topic)

  • Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges

  • Ask and answer questions in order to get help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood

  • Describe familiar people, places, things, and events

  • Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly

Reading Foundational Skills & Phonics

  • Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page

  • Recognize that words are represented by a certain sequence of letters

  • Understand that words are separated by spaces in print

  • Recognize and name all upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet

  • Recognize and produce rhyming words

  • Count and segment syllables in spoken words

  • Identify the initial, middle, and final sounds of CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words

  • Blend sounds together to read written words

  • Read and write CVC words

  • Understand one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound for each consonant

  • Identify consonants and vowels

  • Recognize the long and short vowel sounds and common spelling patterns: a_e, i_e, u_e, ee

  • Substitute letters in single-syllable words to make new words or change the meaning of words (e.g., hat/bat/cat)

  • Read common, high-frequency words by sight

Writing

  • Hold a pencil with pincer grip

  • Trace, copy, and print from memory the 26 letters of the alphabet in both upper and lowercase form

  • Write own name

  • Write from left to right, leaving spaces between words, and top to bottom

  • Begin using phonetic spelling for unknown spelling patterns

  • Form letters, words, and sentences to communicate thoughts and ideas

  • Use basic capitalization and punctuation

  • Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to to compose various types of writing (opinion, narrative, informational)

  • Add details to writing

  • Use and understand question words

  • Draw pictures to represent a text that has been heard or read independently


Science


Scientific Method

  • Ask a question

  • Design an experiment & make a hypothesis

  • Carry out an experiment

  • Make observations

  • Draw conclusions

The Earth - Energy, Weather, Seasons, & the Environment

  • Observe how sunlight affects the Earth’s surface (e.g., sand, rock, dirt)

  • Design and create a structure to reduce the warming of sunlight on an area

  • Observe and describe weather and weather patterns

  • Learn what severe weather is and how forecasting is used to predict severe weather

  • Identify the four seasons and weather patterns that happen during those seasons

  • Understand how humans negatively impact the environment

  • Describe possible ways that humans can reduce their negative impact on the environment

Living Things

  • Know the difference between living and non-living things

  • Observe and describe what living things need to survive

  • Compare how plants and animals differ in their needs to survive

  • Understand how the environments in which plants and animals live are related to their needs

  • Explain how animals interact with their environment to meet their needs (e.g., burrowing in the ground to hibernate)

  • Learn about how the human body works

Force and Motion

  • Plan and Investigate pushing and pulling an object with different directions and strengths

  • Analyze your design to see if the push or pull changed the speed or direction of the object

Engineering

  • Use drawings to design something to solve a problem

  • Create models that represent ways to use objects or simple tools to solve a problem

  • Explore how the shape of an object can function in solving a problem

  • Test out a model designed to solve a problem, evaluate how it worked, and refine


Social Studies


Civics

  • Show respect for others

  • Identify and follow class rules and expectations

  • Take turns and share

  • Take responsibility for classrooms chores

  • Take care of personal belongings and respect what belongs to others

  • Practice honesty, self-control and kindness to others

  • Participate in decision-making

  • Ask and answer questions to gain information about the national symbols, songs, and texts of the United States.

History

  • Describe and understand civic holidays

  • Compare and contrast traditions and celebrations of people with diverse cultural backgrounds

  • Put events from their own life and from stories in sequential and chronological order using phrases like first, next last and now, then, long ago, morning, night, today, yesterday, tomorrow, next week, last year

  • Understand time measurement, including day, weeks, and months

  • Identify cause and effect, using examples from their own life

  • Identify change over time in their own life

  • Identify events of the past, present, and future in their own life

  • Identify examples of historical events that describe the development of the local community and people who helped establish and lead the local community

Geography

  • Describe the location of people, places, and objects using words such as up, down, near, far, left, right, in front of, behind, next to

  • Explain similarities and differences between maps and globes

  • Identify elements of their physical address, including street name and number, town or city, state, and country

  • Use a state map to locate their town or city. Use a town or city map to locate their home.

  • Construct maps or drawings to show physical features of familiar places

  • Identify physical features such as land, water, and mountains

  • Identify basic map symbols in a map legend

Economics

  • Describe some things people do when the work inside and outside of the home

  • Give examples of goods and services that people purchase with money they earn

  • Ask and answer questions about buying and selling things and explain how people make choices about what they need and want

  • Match simple descriptions of work that people do with the names of those jobs

  • Identify examples of goods and services

  • Identify what money is and how it is used in society


Art


Engagement with Materials

  • Use standard and non-standard materials to create art

  • Know how to use art materials safely and appropriately

  • Create collages and sculptures using different types of materials

  • Use textured materials in artworks, such as collages and sculptures

Art Skills

  • Represent real-world and make-believe objects through art

  • Know the basic colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, white, gray, and pink)

  • Identify warm colors (e.g., red and orange) and cool colors (e.g., blue and green)

  • Recognize different types of lines and create these in pieces of artwork

  • Curved line examples: slide, waves in the water

  • Straight line examples: tree trunk of certain tree types, swing set

  • Curly line examples: curly hair, vines on a pumpkin plant

  • Zig-Zag line examples: mountainous terrain (e.g., on a map)

  • Explore what different types of lines can do in drawings, paintings, and sculptures (e.g., lines can be used to suggest motion or emotions)

  • Describe different textures using adjectives (e.g., smooth, rough, silky)

Artistic Expression

  • Share the process of your art creation and details about the artwork

  • Select artworks to display as a portfolio, and explain why these were chosen

  • Describe why artists display their work and where art is typically on display (e.g., art museums, art exhibits)


Music

  • Experience many different types (genres) of music

  • Communicate preferences for certain songs or types of music

  • Explain what you like or do not like about particular song selections

  • Identify differences in musical selections based on pitch (high/low), tempo (fast/slow), and dynamics (loud/soft)

  • Recognize how musical elements in a song (beat, pitch, tempo, dynamics) change how a song feels

  • Understand how music connects with real-world events and other art forms

  • Create musical expressions that have a purpose by making up a song, coming up with new words to a song, and/or using movements to align with the melody

  • Refine a new musical creation or version of a song, and perform a final version



Fine-Motor Skills

  • Grip a pencil properly

  • Print their full name (capital letter, followed by lowercase letters)

  • Lace shoes

  • Use scissors correctly

  • Copy triangles and other geometric shapes

  • Draw a person with a head, body, arms, and legs

  • Dress and undress themselves

  • Eat with a fork and spoon

  • Form upper and lowercase letters

  • Screw and unscrew nuts and bolts

  • String beads


Gross-Motor Skills

  • Skip

  • Swing and climb

  • Hop up to 10 feet without stopping

  • Walk on tiptoes

  • Stand on one foot for five seconds

  • Hop on one foot

  • Kick a ball with accuracy

  • Catch a ball bounced from five feet away


Readiness to Learn

  • Follow multi-step oral directions

  • Give simple directions

  • Provide simple explanations

  • Follows rules and routines

  • Uses materials purposefully and respectfully

  • Sustains attention on a single task for a period of time (15-20 minutes)

  • Shows eagerness and curiosity as a learner

  • Asks for help when needed

  • Participates in group activities

Social/Emotional Learning

  • Works, plays, and shares with others

  • Participates in group activities

  • Uses words to resolve conflicts

  • Uses words to express their emotions and feelings

  • Uses strategies to calm strong feelings

  • Respects the feelings and rights of others

  • Shows empathy and kindness to others

  • Develops multiple solutions to a problem

  • Washes hands properly

  • Potty trained

  • Sleeps 10-12 hours every night


Would you like access to a PDF version of this checklist for free? If yes, click below:


FREE printable PDF: What Kindergarteners Should Know - The Ultimate Checklist


Use this checklist of what kindergartners should know as a guide, to focus on what skills need more attention and identify the skills that your child has already mastered.


Katie Eichman, M.Ed.

Hollie Young, Ph.D.