Seattle Public Schools


Preparing for Kindergarten

Helping Your Child Prepare for Kindergarten

Families are their child’s first and most important teacher. Your involvement in their learning is critical to both in preparing them as they enter school and over the course of their educational career.

All the experience, care and learning opportunities your child receives from birth to five years of age contribute to their School Readiness. The resources below will help you find information and tools to support you in your role as your child’s first teacher.

The State of Washington Early Learning and Development Guidelines ( English guidelines,  Spanish guidelines) offers examples of skills seen in all areas of learning for typically developing children ages birth through eight.

Parents and families have a very important role as their child’s first teacher. Children learn in different ways and at different rates. They come to school with varying skills. You’ll notice that a child who is ready for kindergarten has skills in many distinct areas, such as:

  • Self-care and getting along with others
  • Physical abilities like moving and handling a pencil or crayon, a fork or chopsticks
  • Listening and speaking
  • Thinking and problem solving
  • Recognizing letters and their sounds, and playing with words
  • Counting and sorting; recognizing shapes and sizes
  • Personal safety and awareness of one’s name, home address, etc.

To help parents and guardians to understand the abilities typical of most 5- and 6-year old children, Seattle and several nearby school districts prepared and translated a checklist of “Kindergarten Readiness Guidelines” into twelve languages (see drop down menu in column to the left). The six areas and the individual skills are drawn from the  Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), which teachers used to assess children at the beginning of the school year.

Readiness Guidelines

Parents and families have a very important role as their child’s first teacher. Children learn in different ways and at different rates. They come to school with varying skills. These guidelines highlight some of the skills children need to be prepared for kindergarten in six developmental areas. The list below suggests ways to work with your child to help him/her be more ready for school.

Social/ Emotional

  • My child can follow 2-step directions consistently and is beginning to follow 3-step directions.
  • My child can remember and follow routines (ex: dinner, bath, brush teeth, read bedtime story, go to bed).
  • My child can tell about his/her own feelings (ex: I feel happy, I feel sad, I feel excited).
  • My child can calm him/herself when frustrated or upset.
  • My child can put on his/her own coat.
  • My child can use the bathroom independently. 
  • My child can wash his/her hands.
  • My child can put away toys, clean up small spills and pick up after him/herself.
  • My child shares, takes turns and helps others.
  • My child adjusts to new situations and/or people.
  • My child plays cooperatively with others.
  • My child can comfort others.
  • My child has the opportunity to play regularly with the same friends his/her age.


  • My child can run, jump and gallop.
  • My child can stand on one foot.
  • My child can throw and catch a large ball.
  • My child can kick a ball.
  • My child can cut using scissors.
  • My child can hold and use a pencil.
  • My child can buckle, zip, snap, and button.


  • My child can use words to express his/her thoughts and needs.
  • My child can name and describe familiar things in his/her world.
  • My child uses new words everyday.
  • My child speaks clearly and is understood by most people.
  • My child can speak in 4-6 word sentences.
  • My child can talk about things that happened in the past, with details.
  • My child can have a conversation on one topic with another person, taking turns talking.


  • My child can think of more than one way to solve a problem.                                      
  • My child shows curiosity and seeks answers to questions.
  • My child shows flexibility and creativity in play and problem solving.                                        
  • My child can group things by color, shape, or size, etc.                                   
  • My child can sit still, stay focused and stick with an activity.         


  • My child knows 5-10 rhymes or children’s songs.
  • My child knows if words start with the same sound (for example: big, brown, bear).
  • My child can hear parts of words (ex: hap-py, 2 parts or 2 syllables).
  • My child recognizes and names 10-20 upper and 10-20 lower case letters.
  • My child says the correct sounds for 10-20 letters.
  • My child is familiar with the parts of a book: cover, title, pages, words, etc.
  • My child reads with an adult or listens to a story daily; he/she can talk about and retell a story.
  • My child “writes” a story by drawing pictures and/or using letters.
  • My child can write his/her name and identify the letters.
  • My child can say the alphabet.  


  • My child can count 10-20 objects, pointing to each object.
  • My child can count out loud, in order, up to 20.
  • My child is beginning to understand and use the words more, less and the same.
  • My child can identify numbers 1-10.
  • My child connects numbers 1-10 with the matching set of objects.
  • My child identifies common shapes (ex: circle, square, triangle, rectangle).
  • My child matches and sorts simple shapes.
  • My child uses measuring tools in play (ex: cups, spoons, ruler, scale).
  • My child uses words to describe things by size, shape, and weight (ex: big, circle, heavy).
  • My child can put things in order (ex: 1st, 2nd, 3rd).

Personal Information

  • My child knows his/her first name, last name and parents’ names.
  • My child knows his/her address and phone number.
  • My child can name 10 body parts (head, shoulders, knees, fingers, etc.).
  • My child knows his/her age and birthday.

Public Libraries

Reading, talking and singing with your child is an easy way to build their vocabulary and help them get ready for school. Visiting public libraries, even before children can read, helps them to love and appreciate language books, and other media. Libraries provide free virtual story times and activities in different languages. Checking out books and music is free. You can get a library card for your child from birth onward. Visit your local public library for more information.