Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten? Here are the Top 10 Skills to Practice! (Part 2)

Last week, we provided the first FIVE skills to work on so you can get your child ready for kindergarten!  This week we are sharing the remaining 5 skills in our top ten:

  1. Sitting in a Chair.  Unfortunately, children have to sit for longer periods of time than we would prefer.  A reasonable amount of time to expect your child to sit in kindergarten is about 15-20 minutes.  We know this can be tough for some kids!  (Side note: There are many reasons why a child might have a hard time sitting in their chair.  This could be related to weak muscles, reflexes that might still be present from birth, balance problems, or other causes.  We can help determine the cause, so feel free to call our office.)  Practice this at home by having your child sit in a chair during meals or while doing an activity such as coloring or other tabletop activities.  Use a timer to gradually work up to 20 minutes.  (We prefer the visual Time Timer: )
  2. Zipping/Unzipping a Backpack.  Sometimes those zippers can get stuck, so you want to be sure your child can zip and unzip their backpack all by themself.  You don’t want your child to have the added stress of everything falling out on the bus or the school hallway!  Practice this at home using school supplies that they need to pack and unpack.  We suggest adding a fun keychain to the zipper pull to make it much easier to grasp!  Allowing your child to pick out their keychain can be motivating enough, or check out Etsy for a custom-made keychain, such as one with your child’s school colors.
  3. Following Basic Directions.  Kindergarten classrooms can be large, and your child will need to be able to follow simple directions.  Some children have a hard time processing language, especially in a loud room with other competing sounds, so this might be a good time to get your child’s hearing checked by an audiologist if you have any concerns.  Some teachers give children directions that involve more than 1 step, which can be even more challenging for children because they have to remember each step.  Practice this at home by giving your child instructions such as the following:
    • “Put your shoes on.”
    • “Wash your hands and then sit down for dinner.”
    • “Time to get your backpack, put your lunch in it, and then zip it up.”

Notice how we went from a 1-step direction, then to 2 steps, and then to 3 steps.    Practice this at home and work with your child at their current level.

  1. Using Safety with Scissors.  Your child will do a lot of cutting, coloring, and art projects in kindergarten!  The first time they use scissors should probably NOT be in a kindergarten classroom, so be sure to work with your child at home first.  Part of being able to use scissors is to use them safely.  This means teaching your child some guidelines to follow when they are using scissors.  (Yes, that old saying from our parents to “Don’t run with scissors” is very true and comes back to haunt us!)  Teach your child that we sit at a table to cut with scissors; we don’t walk around to cut.  When we’re done cutting, we put the scissors down on the table.  Ideally, scissors should be placed in a container (such as a school box), and then the child should carry the box to put it away.
  2. Meeting New Friends.  Even though your child’s kindergarten classroom might have 25 children in it, the environment can still feel isolating if your child doesn’t know anyone.  Teach your child to meet new friends by using role playing at home, and then practicing with a sibling, a neighbor, or better yet…a new friend at the playground!  Keep it simple, such as:
    • “Hi, my name is Sarah.  What’s your name?”
    • Or, you can try this: “Hi, my name is Sarah.  I like your shirt.  What’s your name?”
    • Here’s one more: “Hi, my name is Sarah.  Do you want to color with me?”

Are there more skills your child should have for kindergarten?  Yes.  But stick with these first so you don’t overwhelm your child.  If you have any questions, feel free to call or email our office for a parent consult, or for more information about our services if your child is struggling in any of these skills: 703-491-1044 or email  We’re happy to help!  Cheers to a successful kindergarten year!