Essential Pre-Kindergarten Skills

by Beth Moran, Early Childhood Teacher

Q. Does My Child Need to Know Letters and Numbers Before Kindergarten?

A. It is vital in the preschool years to provide your child with experiences to help him/her gain skills and build a foundation for school. But, does my child really need to identify colors, shapes, letters and numbers before entering kindergarten? The answer is YES!

Kindergarten is no longer just play time. It is now like first grade used to be and our children need to be prepared. It is often a difficult task because the kids want to have play time and as parents, we want to be sure our children are prepared for Kindergarten. Expectations include first grade skills. There are now state guidelines on what a child needs to know as a kindergarten student.

The big question is, "How can I teach my child the academic skills and still make it fun?" Parents will often say that every time they get out the flash cards, their child runs or cries because they don't want to do them. There are so many ways to teach academics and make it fun. Join us for an evening of hands on activities that are enjoyable and cover the basics needed before Kindergarten.

At what age should my child be able to perform certain skills?

For 2- to 3-year-olds

  1. Names colors
  2. Uses words to request
  3. Points to 3 basic shapes (circle, triangle, square)
  4. Repeats a simple sentence (I want a cracker.)
  5. Names pictures in a book
  6. Listens to a short story
  7. Knows parents names
  8. Knows first and last name
  9. Compares sizes (big and little)

For 3- to 4-year-olds

  1. Names colors
  2. Names 4 basic shapes
  3. Counts by rote
  4. Learns and repeats songs and finger-plays
  5. Identifies animals and the sounds they make
  6. Matches, compares familiar objects as to color, form, and size (put all the red blocks in the red container)
  7. Hears likenesses and differences in sounds
  8. Describes pictures and tells actions
  9. Knows age

For 4- to 5-year-olds

  1. Names colors
  2. Names 4 basic shapes
  3. Shows interest in learning letters and numbers
  4. Recognizes upper case letters
  5. Recognizes lower case letters
  6. Recognizes the numerals 1-10
  7. Counts by rote
  8. Identifies the various sounds the letters represent
  9. Counts the correct number of items in a row
  10. Matches a numeral with that number of items
  11. Hears likenesses and differences in sounds
  12. Sees likenesses and differences in pictures
  13. Speaks clearly
  14. Copies specific printed shapes or designs
  15. Knows address
  16. Knows telephone number
  17. Prints first name without copying
  18. Uses imagination and creativity in play
  19. Problem solves

Beth Moran is an ECP teacher at Barnes Early Childhood Center and can be reached at 313-432-3803. She has a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education from Wayne State University. She received a Masters Degree + 40 credits, in Special Education, from Wayne State University, as well as her ZA endorsement. She taught Kindergarten, 1st and 3rd grades in Highland Park before having a family. She spent 22 years at the Grosse Pointe Pre-Kindergarten (10 as a director), before joining the Grosse Pointe School System in 1998. Beth's passion for teaching continues to bring joy to her life everyday.

Making a Successful Transition into Kindergarten
A special follow up to The Family Center's past fall "Kindergarten: Get Ready!!" presentation.
Tuesday, Feb. 2, 7pm
Barnes Early Childhood Center
20090 Morningside Dr., Grosse Pointe Woods
RSVP by Jan. 26 @ 313.432.3832 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Family Center, a 501(c) 3, non-profit organization, serves as the community's centralized hub for information, resources and referral for families and professionals.  To view more Ask The Experts articles, please visit our website
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20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI  48236

Enriching Our Community Through Stronger Families
The Family Center serves as the community's hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. The Family Center is a non-profit organization founded with a mission to serve our community through programs and resources vital to today's families.

All gifts are tax-deductible.
To volunteer or contribute, visit the 'Get Involved' page, call 313-447-1374.
Email: or write to: The Family Center
32 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236.