Is your child ready for kindergarten this fall?

“While most kindergartens don’t exactly have GPA requirements, for a child to succeed there are a few milestones that should be reached before they toddle through the door,” says Alise McGregor, founder of Little Newtons, an early education center with locations in Minnesota and Illinois.

“New parents especially can have a hard time understanding that there are actually things their child should know prior to kindergarten. but if they take time to make sure their child knows some basics, it will make kindergarten a better experience.”

Here are four things every kid needs to know prior to entering kindergarten:

Basic shapes. The child should have learned basic shapes like the square, circle, rectangle and triangle in preschool. In kindergarten, they will probably be introduced to the hexagon, star, heart, and octagon.

The letters of the child’s name. Kids should at least be able to recognize the letters of their name. In kindergarten, they will learn their uppercase letters and begin lowercase letters. They will also begin to learn how to write freehand without tracing.

Numbers 1 to 10. Although some children will be able to count to 100 by the time they reach kindergarten, all should be able to at least be able to count to 10. Numbers will be used starting on the first day of kindergarten so children need to at least understand and recognize numbers.

Social skills. The child should be able to follow directions, be able to be separated from the caregiver, and use the restroom independently. Teachers simply do not have the time to supervise individual students who cannot independently use the restroom. When children are upset that a caregiver leaves, this can disrupt (and possibly upset) the entire class. It’s best to work on separation anxiety before the first day of school to ease the transition for everyone involved.

If you want to make sure your kid is ready, check out these excellent online resources:

  • Scholastic delves deeper into the requisite skills that will make for an easier kindergarten experience while also offering printables and pre-reading activities.
  • The excellent online resource I Can Teach My Child offers a list of simple, everyday things that you can do with your child to ensure that he/she is ready to make the loop to kindergarten.
  • The Mayo Clinic also offers clear guidelines on Kindergarten readiness.

If your child isn’t ready, or is on the enrollment cut-off, talk to your local school district about enrolling them the following year. Another option is to continue at their preschool (if they currently attend) in a TK (transitional kindergarten) class.