Is your 5 year old prepared for kindergarten?

Is your 5 year old prepared for kindergarten?

I think this is a pretty normal question for parents at this time of the year trying to assess if their son or daughter is ready for kindergarten. This year more than ever the answers might not be as easy. With the closing of childcare and schools since March the little ones about this age have had quite a change for their little lives. Some are probably super happy to stay home and do whatever they want all day with mom, dad, or whomever. Others are missing the structure and their teachers and friends. Having a daughter this age I even feel guilty that the last 10 weeks while I worked from home she had to do some entertaining of herself. They are old enough to be able to leave the room and not worry but young enough to still need and ask for things frequently through the day. When she asks to play with her I feel bad  telling her no because mommy has to work and knowing if she was at school she would get to play and get out some of this energy. While I am hoping we aren’t going backwards in the developmental steps I reached out to my favorite preschool teacher and teacher to 3 of my kids for 6 of their tiny little years as to what things us as parents can identify to see if our 5 year old is where they should be and where we need to work on a little more over the next few months before fall.

Just as the doctor has you answer the questionaires before your yearly appointments up til now schools have a list of things that they typical 5 year old should be able to do. It doesn’t say EVERY single day or EVERY single time but a general grasp on it I am assuming. If you child had an identified IEP or delay please don’t be alarmed if this isn’t where your child is at. I will say from experience birth order, whether they are a boy or girl, personality, and now sitting through a pandemic can definitely effect how our kids are able to control these different things.

While all of these things are skills and academics is a piece our teacher told us to highly encourage parents to focus on social-emotional skills as well as self-help. Observing a child being able to regulate their emotions and have positive relationships with their peers that is going to go a long way. If your child is able to take care of themselves and their belongings that will help them as well. These are basic things such as picking up something they care about, being able to put their coat or shoes on themselves, brushing their teeth, being able to put something back where it goes (if they are like mine even at 14 this is a struggle but they do have the capability to do so).

Please check out the list below naming some of the typical skills for a 5 year old that are cognitive, fine motor & gross motor, social-emotional, and language. I purchased kindergarten readiness books to practice in the summers for my boys when they were this age and plan to with my daughter as well. If you see a skill that you aren’t sure how to help them practice do some digging. They are only 5 years old and will learn many skills just being in school and in the classroom with their peers. I know if you do think your child may be behind there are services in your community to reach out to have your child tested as well. My 3rd son worked with a program called Help Me Grow with the county I live in and was offered special services and an IEP (Individual Education Plan) when he was younger. They will help you make the best decision that is right for your child and you!



  • Names all basic colors and shapes
  • Identify and name numerals 1-9
  • Rote count to 20
  • Tell what number comes after…(1-9)
  • Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group up to 10
  • Counts sets of objects (1-10) and tells how many
  • Completes more complex interlocking puzzles
  • May be beginning to read
  • Recognizes some upper and lower case letters, especially those in his name
  • Recognizes some letter sounds
  • Is concerned with accuracy
  • Enjoys being read to; more interested in real than fiction
  • Has good memory skills; can recall missing objects
  • Can adjust tone, vocabulary, and sentence length depending on target audience
  • Attends to activities for long periods of time, persisting until finished


Fine Motor & Gross Motor:

  • Cuts out shapes with only small deviations
  • Prints name
  • Copies triangle and other shapes
  • Copies simple words
  • Draws a complete person with detail to many body parts
  • Makes representational drawings
  • Can manipulate all fasteners including: hooks, buckles, and zippers
  • Jumps over obstacle from standing
  • Can stand on one foot with eyes closed
  • Can catch small ball, often in one hand
  • Throws ball with one hand
  • May be able to ride two-wheeled bike
  • May be able to skip


  • Dresses self independently; may tie shoes
  • Zips coat
  • Very independent and self sufficient
  • Can follow expected routines responsibly with some reminders
  • Knows safety rules
  • Will remind others to follow rules (and loves to tell adults when they don’t)



  • May have one or more close friends
  • Wants to please friends
  • Wants to be like friends; shows preferences in the selection of friends, toys, clothes, TV programs, etc)
  • Can play structured games with minimal adult guidance
  • Follows rules to a game
  • Less interested in dramatic play
  • Enjoys construction play
  • Likes to sing, dance, and act
  • Shows more independence and may even visit a next-door neighbor by herself
  • Aware of gender
  • Able to distinguish fantasy from reality
  • Sometimes demanding; sometimes eagerly cooperative



  • Has a rapidly expanding vocabulary
  • Imitates much of what she hears
  • Sometimes uses words and expressions beyond his conceptual understanding
  • Uses longer sentences (3-8 words); including adjectives and adverbs
  • Uses most irregular verbs and plurals correctly
  • Uses pronouns (I, you, me, we, they)
  • Understands “not”
  • Asks questions, especially “Why”
  • Answers more complex questions; including simple logic questions
  • Is understood by strangers nearly all the time
  • Can follow multi-step directions in exact order
  • Names actions, missing parts in pictures, and causes of events
  • Understands the prepositions: under, over, next to, behind, in front of
  • Can select pictures based on a verbal description
  • Tends to go on and on and on when telling stories and answering questions; often expressing thoughts as they come to mind (adults may not see the connection)
  • Has many opinions and is eager to share them
  • Tells stories (often tall tales)
  • Can tell about past events

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