6 Skills Every Kid Should Know Before Kindergarten

By Seeta Pai, Vice President of Research and Digital Content at Common Sense Media

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

All parents want their kid 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:

  • 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:
    -->Sid the Science Kid (TV show) and Sid's Science Fair (app)
    -->Alien Assignment (app)
    -->Curious George (TV show)

  • 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, play well with peers, and resolve conflicts are starting the game ahead. Check out:
    -->Angelina Ballerina (TV show)
    -->My DPS (app)

  • 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:
    -->My Video Schedule (app)
    -->Memory Train (app)
    -->Toca Builders (app)

  • 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:
    -->Essential books for young kids
    -->Best preschool music
    -->Best storytelling apps

  • 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 fetch and 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:
    -->Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (TV show)
    -->Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten (book)

  • 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:
    -->Learn-to-Read apps, games, and websites
    -->LetterSchool (app)
    -->Best math apps and games
    -->Intro to Colors by Montessorium (app)

Do you think there's too much pressure on kindergartners to enter school knowing their letters and numbers?

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go towww.commonsense.org.