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News in Youth Services

Monday, May 9, 2016

Ready for Kindergarten: Academic Skills

Welcome back to the Ready for Kindergarten series!

This post will focus on the Academic Skills kids need to be ready for kindergarten. Don't be scared! These are pretty simple, and I'll give you some tips to help with the ones they don't know yet.

Academic Skills
  • Recognize Letters 
  • Say the alphabet without singing it
  • Distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Name some letter sounds
  • Know basic colors
  • Understand basic prepositions and concept words
  • Understand measurement words
  • Be familiar with book orientation



Letter recognition is one of the basic building blocks for reading. What your child needs to be able to do is sort out letters from symbols. You can make flashcards or just look for non-letters in written materials. Some examples of non-letter symbols that we see regularly are:  # & $ @

Say the alphabet without singing it seems like a weird request, but what the teachers are looking for is the understanding that the letters are independent from one another. Basically, they don't want your kid to think that LMNO is one letter.



The ability to tell uppercase and lowercase letters apart makes learning to read and write a lot easier. There are flashcards available to go over this, but you could just as easily check out some ABC books from the library. I personally like this one or this one. But we have A WHOLE section devoted to ABC books. Come pick out one that appeals to you.

Letter sounds are what kids use to figure out how to read words. Again, we are back to the building blocks of reading. The more you read aloud to your kids, the more familiar the sounds will become. You can also play a game where you make a letter sound and your child will guess what letter it belongs to.


Colors are descriptive words and are found frequently in books. The colors that make up a box of 8 crayons should be what your child knows: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, and brown. You can make a game of finding five things that are the same color in five minutes.  You pick the color (red), set the timer on your phone, watch or microwave and see if your child can find 5 in 5. Or you can check out books on color--we have a whole section on that as well!


Understand basic prepositions and concept words sounds like a mouthful of mumbo-jumbo. What it means is: can your kid understand and correctly use words like: up/down, over/under, in/out, top/bottom, right/left, high/low, near/far, and stop/go.


Understand measurement words doesn't mean inches and centimeters--they'll get to that soon enough! Can they understand and correctly use words like: big/little, small/large, short/long, slow/fast, few/many, and empty/full.


Familiarity with book orientation includes knowing the front and back of the book, as well as the title, author, the beginning of the story, and illustrations. Pointing out these features each time you read together will be enough to plant these concepts in their minds. Additionally, you can check out books based on the illustrations or the author rather than the subject. What if you checked out a stack of books with painted illustrations? Or what if you checked out books by authors whose last names start with the same letter? Or authors who had the same first name?

When you read to your kid every day, they pick up on these skills much faster. If you can't read every day, read as often as you can! You can always come to our drop-in storytimes on Tuesday night from 6:30-7pm, or on Thursday morning from 10:30-11am.

Until next time--when we will cover language skills!

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