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A glimpse into the brain of a writer-momma-nerd.

What Your Child Needs to Know Before…Kindergarten?

Posted by nattya61 on March 13, 2012

I was playing around on Pinterest and ran across the blog post “71 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before Kindergarten.” I clicked on the link because I honestly don’t know much about kids other than Nick, and I have very little idea of what a typical kindergartener is like or needs to know before starting school. I was kind of shocked after reading the 71 things. Here is the list and my thoughts about each one and answering if Nick can do each one, so you’ll see why some of these seemed a little odd to me.

Personal and Social Development

Approach to Learning

Shows eagerness and curiosity as a learner
Nick totally does this…sometimes too much to the annoyance of me and Bryan when we just want some rest.
Persists in task and seeks help when encountering a problem
Most of the time he does this. Though, I’m not sure how I feel about the seeking help thing. Isn’t it a good thing to try to do things yourself?
Is generally pleasant and cooperative
Not yet. He needs to work on this.


Follows rules and routines
I’m not sure he’ll ever do this. He likes routine, but I’m 32 and I still don’t like rules, especially arbitrary ones, which, and let’s be honest here, most “parental” rules are arbitrary. “Don’t cuss.” Why the fuck not? “Don’t watch anything over a G rating.” Seriously? (Bryan’s step-monster did that one.) “Don’t color on the pillow?” Pick your battles. It washes off. See, the world has too many rules, in my opinion. As aggravating as it can be some times, I like that he’s a defiant little sucker. It means he doesn’t just go with the status quo. My kid thinks for himself.
Manages transitions (going from one activity to the next)
Oh, he’s good at this.
Demonstrates normal activity level
What is a “normal” activity level?

Interactions with Others

Interacts easily with one or more children
He does this. He’s good around other kids. He doesn’t pick fights and knows when to hold his own and when to just walk away.
Interacts easily with familiar adults
He’s still wary of people, but I don’t blame him for that. He’s not very trusting. That means he won’t get into a van when a guy offers him candy.
Participates in group activities
He’s getting much better with this one thanks to gymnastics.
Plays well with others
Haven’t we already covered this one? Maybe someone needs to go to kindergarten again. (Yes, I’m already getting bored with the list by this point, and we haven’t even gotten to the good stuff.)
Takes turns and shares
I don’t remember kids sharing at all in kindergarten…the little bastards. Nick is also learning this in gymnastics and keeps getting better each month.
Cleans up after play
He does this, when he’s not cranky.

Conflict Resolution

Seeks adult help when needed to resolve conflicts
Again, isn’t it our job as parents to help them learn how to fend for themselves? Sometimes he asks for help too much and other times he doesn’t. I think it depends on his mood. He knows how to open his box of cars, but sometimes he’s just too lazy. It’s the same with other problems.
Uses words to resolve conflicts
He’s doing this more and more every day as well.

Language and Literacy


Listens with understanding to directions and conversations
Oh yeah. He understands everything.
Follows one-step directions
Doesn’t every 3-year-old? I would hope a 5-year-old can do this?
Follows two-step directions
See previous.


Speaks clearly enough to be understood without contextual clues
Relates experiences with some understanding of sequences of events

Literature and Reading

Listens with interest to stories read aloud
Shows interest in reading-related activities
He’s obsessed with reading and writing.
Retells information from a story
I’ve never asked him to do this. I’ll have to check.
Sequences three pictures to tell a logical story
See previous.


Uses pictures to communicate ideas
Pictures? Nick writes words to communicate ideas.
Uses scribbles, shapes, and letter-like symbols to write words or ideas
He writes actual letters to make words. He can also “scribble” and draw faces, shapes, numbers, etc.

Alphabet Knowledge

Recites/sings alphabet
He’s been doing this for the past year and a half.
Matches upper-case letters
I should hope that he could do this at five. Can some 5-year-olds not do this? Is that normal? I’m not being snarky; I’m really curious.
Matches lower-case letters
See previous.
Identifies upper-case letters
See previous.
Identifies lower-case letters
See previous.

Mathematical Thinking

Patterns and Relationships

Sorts by color, shape, and size
Orders or separates several objects on the basis of one attribute
He loves putting things in order.
Recognizes simple patterns and duplicates them
He finds patterns, creates them, duplicates them. Sometimes I think he’s writing in binary on his Magna Doodle or having aliens telling him to write patterns or something…haha! It’s like the X-Files episode Conduit (first season…think way back).

Number concept and operations

Rote counts to 20
Uh yeah. Again, he has been able to do this for a while now. He counts backwards too and recognizes numbers up to 100.
Counts objects with meaning to 10
Objects, his steps, up to 20, so yeah.
Matches numerals
Matches, writes them, you name it.
Identifies by naming, numerals 0-10
He can read them written out (“one,” “two,” etc.) as well.

Geometry and spatial relations

Identifies 4 shapes- circle, square, rectangle, triangle
Plus octagon.
Demonstrates concepts of positional/directional concepts (up/down, over/under, in/out, behind/in front of, beside/between, top/bottom, inside/outside, above/below, high/low, right/left, off/on, first/last, far/near, go/stop).


Shows understanding of and uses comparative words (big/little, large/small, short/long, tall/short, slow/fast, few/many, empty/full, less/more.
Not all of these yet. So yes, we have something we need to work on. He definitely knows “empty.”

Physical Development

Gross-Motor Skills

Pedals and steers a tricycle
He gets the concept; he just doesn’t want to do this.
Jumps in place, landing on two feet
He loves to jump.
Jumps consecutively- 7 jumps
Yep. Unfortunately. He tires me out just watching him.
Balances on one foot for 5 seconds
Hops on one foot 2-3 hops
Hops on one foot- 6 ft.
Throws a ball with direction- 5 ft.
Catches a thrown ball with arms and body
Nope, but does this really have any meaning other than my child is awkward, just like me.
Climbs a playground ladder
See previous.
Skips smoothly for 20 feet
He’s getting there with this one.

So, I’m super bored now and not going to finish all 71, but you get the idea. A majority of these things are what a three-year-old should be able to do, not a five-year-old. Right? Is Nick weird, special, gifted? Or do most parents not work on this type of stuff at a young age because they think the kid won’t get it yet? Now, if he would just use the damn potty.


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