Getting the most out of Kindergarten

VP SAT Instructor

Based on Common Core Standards
Written by Brian Galvin, MEd Chief Academic Officer

Key Takeaways

These are the most critical skills a Kindergartner should master before entering 1st grade:

1. Counting and Number Skills
2. Geometric Shapes
3. Measurement
4. Number Operations

English Language Arts:
1. Phonemic Awareness
2. Recognize Text Types
3. Identify Common Words

Find out which Kindergarten skills your student needs to work on by taking our learning assessments:

Kindergarten is a formative step in a student’s academic career. Starting off on the right foot is key to children building their confidence and developing crucial foundational skills in math, reading, and writing to set them up for success throughout their academic journey. Some students may have explored some of these skills in Pre-Kindergarten, but this school year students are held to a grading scale and will begin progress monitoring assessments. This scholastic checklist will help you ensure that your Kindergartner is confident with the critical path skills that will determine 1st-grade readiness, as well as provide a summary of all the skills your student should have mastered by the end of Kindergarten.


Critical Skills for Math

Counting and Number Skills
As students exit Kindergarten they should be able to count to 100 by ones and tens, count forward from a number other than one (ex. starting at six and counting on), read, write, and represent numbers with objects up to 20; count objects, and compare two groups of objects to determine which is greater than, less than, or if they are equal. When students master these skills and move to 1st grade they will begin counting to 120, they will move away from objects and use written numerals to compare or manipulate numbers, and go deeper into place values. As the numbers get larger and the skills more complex and conceptual in 1st grade, a deep foundational understanding of counting and number skills is crucial.

Geometric Shapes
Kindergartners at the end of the school year should be able to identify, analyze, compare, create, and compose squares, circles, triangles, hexagons, rectangles, and 3-D shapes; they should also be able to describe these shapes and their positions compared to other objects. These skills are critical for success later on in the upcoming school years as recognition of shapes gives way to actively working with shapes, such as partitioning them to understand fractions and defining shapes by their characteristics.

Students in Kindergarten will encounter measurement for the first time. By the end of the school year, they should be able to compare two objects by length or weight, describe measurable attributes of objects, and count and sort objects into categories. This visual and conceptual understanding of measurement prepares students for 1st grade when they will begin using measurement tools to find the length or weight of something, working with analog and digital clocks, and learning the value of coins.

Number Operations
By the end of the school year, Kindergartners should move beyond counting and number recognition to understand place values and the fundamentals of addition/subtraction. Kindergarten graduates should be able to decompose numbers 11 through 19 into ones using objects or drawings to recognize the group of 10 plus additional ones; they should be able to add and subtract numbers or objects within 10; they should know how to pair numbers 1-9 to sum to 10; and they should be able to solve addition and subtraction word problems within 10. When students get to 1st grade they will be adding and subtracting numbers within 100 and comparing double-digit numbers, which requires a firm understanding of place values and of the mechanics of addition and subtraction.

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Math Assessment – Kindergarten

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Critical Skills for English Language Arts

Phonemic Awareness
By the completion of Kindergarten students should be able to demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter sounds and long and short vowel sounds; recognize and produce rhyming words; add or substitute sounds in one-syllable words to make a new word; and count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in a spoken word. Students in 1st grade will use their understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds to read independently and write to explain themselves. Phonemic awareness is the cornerstone of reading education and sets students up for success in all subject areas to come.

Recognize Text Types
As Kindergartners develop as readers of various types of books and passages, they should be able to identify if a text is a fiction or nonfiction passage (although note that less technical terms like “real” or “fake” are appropriate at this grade level). Using illustrations and other text features, students can identify if a text is informing them of facts or telling them a story. These skills are important for their work in 1st grade where they are reading more independently and writing and answering questions about characters, settings, events, and responses.

Identify Common Words
At the end of Kindergarten students should be able to identify common “sight words” and “high-frequency words.” These are words that students will encounter often when reading and therefore should have committed to memory rather than sounding out or breaking apart. Knowing these commonly used words will help students build their fluency, vocabulary, and ability to read when they encounter challenging text in 1st grade and beyond.

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ELA Assessment – Kindergarten

Our smart learning system can assess your student, identify their strengths and weaknesses in a subject, and recommend learning tools to help them improve their mastery.
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