What Do Kids Learn in a Typical Kindergarten Curriculum?All Posts
Written by Ashley Crowe
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Your child is starting kindergarten! This is an exciting milestone in any kid’s life.
Even if they've been in pre-k classes, kindergarten is often considered the first official school year for children.
Your kid can’t wait to ride that big yellow bus, and you’re excited for them to learn all kinds of new things. But you probably have questions, like:
- Will my child learn to read this year?
- What numbers should they know?
- How can I help them learn at home?
Kindergarten is an exciting time, but it’s totally normal to feel a bit worried. We understand that you want your child to thrive, both academically and socially.
In this article, we’ll review the curriculum basics your child will cover this year — including language, math, science and those crucial social emotional skills.
It’s time to tackle kindergarten together. Let’s go!
Common Core skills
Although it varies from state to state, most schools closely follow the Common Core standards for kindergarten. These standards help set the foundation for your child’s future learning.
Along with academic standards, educators focus on teaching children the ins and outs of the classroom. Learning the rules and expectations while figuring out their daily routine will take up much of the first few weeks of class. Then the kindergarten year will dive into more academic pursuits.
Here’s an overview of what your child will learn this year.
1. Kindergarten language arts
Learning to identify the alphabet’s letters is the first step towards reading and writing. So get ready to practice those ABCs and hear that classic alphabet song on repeat!
Beyond identifying letters, there will also be a major focus on phonics. Your child will learn each letter’s sound. By the end of the year, they’ll be able to distinguish consonants from vowels and begin to understand the role each plays in a word.
Reading short words and storybooks
Learning to read may be the most exciting part of kindergarten. Once a child starts reading, the potential to learn is endless!
The kindergarten curriculum will focus on high-frequency sight words and short words that are easy to sound out. Educators are looking to encourage reading confidence.
Tip: if your child is a more advanced reader, ask their teacher to recommend books to match their reading level so they stay interested and challenged.
Writing letters, short words and their name
Writing is an important part of the kindergarten curriculum. Your child will learn to:
- Print both upper and lower-case letters
- Write their own name
- Create tiny stories using short words
If your child struggles with writing, don’t stress. Many kids are still developing their fine motor skills at ages 5 and 6. With a bit of practice, your child’s scribbles will soon form legible words!
Tip: Encourage your child to practice writing their name in different ways or with different writing tools, like in this activity sheet from TeachWithMe.
Words, sounds and conversation
Your child’s language skills have changed dramatically since the toddler years. But there’s still much to learn.
While in kindergarten, your child will continue to grow their conversation skills. New friends and social situations — and more reading — will expand their vocabulary.
Tip: Even though they’re getting older, don’t stop reading out loud with your child. Together you can tackle more complex stories and ideas, leading to an even better understanding of the world!
2. Kindergarten math
Numbers and counting
By the end of kindergarten, your child should have a solid understanding of numbers one through 20. And this means much more than just rote counting.
Kindergarten classrooms often feature great math manipulatives to help kids grasp abstract math concepts. The number "2" doesn’t mean much until you pair the word with the image of two blocks. This idea will stick even more if your child is given the chance to build and create numbers with objects they can touch and hold.
Your child will also likely learn basic skip counting. They’ll soon be able to count by 2s, 5s and 10s. This is an important first step into multiplication and division, though they won’t fully tackle those topics for a couple of years.
The basics of geometry start now. Your child will have plenty of time to explore both two-dimensional and basic three-dimensional shapes. The math manipulatives available in classrooms can also make a huge difference in your child’s understanding here.
They’ll be able to observe a shape from all sides, and will begin to understand why a square is a square. This basic knowledge of sides and angles will set them up for future math success!
Simple addition and subtraction
Now that your child has a secure understanding of the first twenty or so numbers, they can really dive into addition and subtraction.
For your kindergartener, these concepts will come together as they add objects to a set, or take some away. This will also help cement their understanding that larger numbers “contain” smaller numbers (i.e. 7 is made up of 4 and 3).
3. Kindergarten science
Plants and animals
Kids are naturally curious, and nature is their first laboratory. There is so much to learn about the natural world! Plants and animals often have a lot of appeal because children encounter them every day.
In kindergarten, your child will focus on basic life cycles, like that of a frog or butterfly. And they will learn the different parts of a flower or of insects. Identifying and labeling is a major component of early science instruction.
The senses and the body
Heads, shoulders, knees and toes will be a popular song this year! What the senses are and how they work is an important part of the kindergarten curriculum, as well as identifying and labeling their own body parts.
The weather is a great science topic for kindergarteners because it’s something they encounter every day. It affects their clothing choices and whether or not they can play outside. Learning the basics of the water cycle or why it snows is fascinating information for a five or six year old.
Time is abstract and still tricky at this age, but your child can understand more now than before. The set schedule of school is a great way to make time more tangible. They wake up at 7am, leave at 8am, eat lunch at 11am and so on.
Visual schedules, like this one from Teaching Mama can help students understand this concept more quickly.
Tip: talk about time as often as possible. Your child is likely to still struggle with quarter and half hours (ex. 30 minutes after being “half-past” is hard to understand at this age), but the more exposure, the better.
Other skills in the kindergarten curriculum
Kindergarten is about so much more than academic skills. Here’s a quick look at the other things your child will learn this year.
1. Cognitive and thinking skills
Problem solving and critical thinking skills
Your child will encounter many challenges this year. It’s part of learning and growing!
Now that they’re older with better impulse control, it’s the perfect time for them to learn how to work through obstacles and frustrations.
Focusing on tasks
Under the age of six, children still have a short attention span of about 15 to 20 minutes. But this is something that can improve with practice.
With their teacher’s help and understanding, your child will learn how to better stay focused. This important skill will help them throughout their school years.
Sitting and listening is no child’s strongest attribute, but it’s essential to school success. In kindergarten, they’ll learn how to respectfully pay attention, and be given the time to master it.
2. Behavioral and social skills
Making friends and resolving disagreements
School is a social event. Making new friends is exciting, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Friends fight, and teaching children to work through these disagreements is a normal part of a kindergarten educator’s day.
Self-regulation and how to follow rules
Better self-control is possible at this age, but it takes practice. School rules provide the perfect backdrop for learning to stay within expected limits and for kids to practice self-regulation.
3. Motor skills
Bone and muscle development
If you’ve recently bought your child a new school wardrobe, it can be painfully obvious that your child is still growing — and fast. More kindergarten classrooms are incorporating movement and activity into the day to help their bodies grow and strengthen.
Finger and hand control
Learning to write is an important skill, but full mastery may take another couple of years. The primary focus in a kindergarten classroom is learning the basics of holding a pencil or crayon, so your child can improve finger and hand control.
Tip: if your child needs more practice, look at adding fun activities like molding clay to your weekend activities. This can be a great way to strengthen young hands.
Designing a kindergarten homeschool curriculum for your child
If you’ve made the choice to homeschool your child for their kindergarten year, you may be worried about hitting all of the above milestones.
Don’t fret! There are lots of homeschooling resources to help you educate your child. Plus, you have the benefit of your child being able to learn at their own pace.
On particularly rough days, just remember: kids learn best through play! Relax and enjoy this learning adventure together.
1. Teaching reading and writing skills at home
Make alphabet workbooks
If your child loves coloring, make the transition to an age-appropriate workbook. These can especially help with letter recognition and writing practice.
Use labels around the house
As mentioned above, labeling and identifying are big at this age. Print out labels to use around your home. You can label everything — couch, table, crayons, tools, food and so on.
Labeling everyday objects is a great way to promote reading and expand their vocabulary.
Sound out simple skills and read aloud
This best tool in your homeschooling kit? Books!
Read, read, read, then read some more. Reading aloud will encourage your child’s interest in reading independently. Take the time to sound out simple words as you read together, and help them recognize letter sounds throughout the day.
Once they’re interested, reading skills will develop. If they aren’t there yet, don’t worry. Many kids may not learn to read until age seven or up. Keep reading together and soon their interest will come.
Encourage them to keep a journal
Keeping a journal is a great way to practice writing, with a focus on healthy social emotional practices.
2. Teaching kindergarten math at home
Incorporate numbers everywhere
Numbers are all around. Look and point out numbers in your everyday activities. Let your child help you count how many apples you’re buying at the store, or talk about how many crackers are left at snack time.
Create word problems with household objects
Baking together is an excellent way to incorporate math into your day. Even something as simple as turning down the volume on the TV can turn into a math lesson. And toy collections are a great place to start talking about addition and subtraction.
Don’t overcomplicate math. Use what you already have and create engaging math lessons easily.
Draw comparisons with everyday objects
- Which stuffed animal is bigger?
- Who’s taller, mommy or daddy?
- Do you think more cereal can fit in this bowl?
These are all great questions to get your child thinking and learning about math concepts.
Combine learning and fun with online games
When you’re using a homeschool curriculum, you have access to so many resources! Screen time can be used wisely to help your child learn while having fun.
Game-based learning tools like Prodigy Math Game are a great way for your child to learn and practice age-appropriate math curriculum that meets your child at their skill level.
If math practice is stressing you out, share a fun online game and watch the learning happen naturally!
3. Teaching cognitive, behavioral, motor and social skills at home
Practice listening skills with fun games like red light/green light and 20 questions
If you’re tired of yelling to get your child’s attention, test their listening and comprehension skills with a fun game (turns out they really do hear you when they want to 😂).
Join community groups so your child can socialize and form friendships outside of the family
Everyone worries about socialization, but homeschoolers have that covered with learning co-ops and gatherings. And there are more meetings now than ever before. A quick online search is a great way to find a group that fits your schedule and needs.
Try sports programs to develop both motor skills and social skills
Most sports programs for younger kids are offered by local communities, so don’t worry about your homeschooled child missing out. Sign them up for a sports club to work on both their social and gross motor skills.
Help your kindergartener thrive throughout the school year
Kindergarten is an exciting time, but it doesn’t come without challenges. Now that you know what’s expected of your child this year, you can help them meet their academic and social goals. Read with your child, ask them about their day, and celebrate their wins. It’s a big year for everyone!
If you’re worried about your child meeting their math goals, explore Prodigy Math Game. Prodigy can help keep the frustration out of math practice. Instead of simple worksheets, your child can learn standards-aligned math while playing an exciting video game!
Plus, with a parent account, you can play an active role in your child’s math learning. Track and support their progress while motivating them to answer more math questions. 👍