Kindergarten Skills for School Success

Physical, Social and Cognitive Skills for the Kindergarten Classroom

Kindergarten is a major milestone for kids—and parents. It will be their first big step into the world of big-kid schools where there will be expectations and learning adventures. She'll have to pay attention, share with classmates, learn how to cooperate with others, and learn how to regulate her impulses. She'll likely also have homework, and even tests. (There is a reason why many teachers and parents have coined the phrase, "Kindergarten is the new first grade"—there will be many demands made upon kindergartners that were not made on kids 10, 20 years ago; and unfortunately, there has also been a decreased focus on play as the amount of academic work like reading and math has increased—something that many child development experts have said is not good for kids.)

In this new world of expectations, your 5-year-old will experience an explosion of skills as she enters kindergarten, skills that are important for her success in school.  As she hits her many physical, cognitive, social and emotional milestones, here are some that her kindergarten teacher will be looking for.


Sisters playing with ring toy, Bradford, Ontario
Kindergarten Skills. Jim Craigmyle / Getty Images

You can expect to see remarkable changes in physical skills and dexterity as your kindergartner begins to grow into a more confident big kid who's ready to take on school. By now your child has gained a little more voluntary control over her body. She can probably run very fast and has more dexterity in her fingers. She may be able to hop, skip, jump and climb stairs with alternating feet. All of these are among the top five physical skills that are important for kindergarten.



A kindergartner’s social skills are beginning to develop, especially if he hasn’t been around many other children. If he’s able to interact appropriately with other kids, knows the difference between right and wrong and can make his needs known, he’s showing many of the social skills that are important for kindergarten.



At this age, your child is always thinking, pondering and questioning. She can probably tell a story from start to finish, using fairly sophisticated sentences and may count everything she sees. If so, she already has most of the cognitive skills that are important for kindergarten.



Though every parent hopes their child will do well in school, some children have a more difficult time than others. It may just mean your child’s development is slower than his peers, but if he shows many of these signs of learning trouble, don’t ignore them.