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10 Skills to Teach Your Toddler Before Kindergarten

By babbleeditors |

Without a doubt, the demands of kindergarten have changed over the past several decades. The half-days of play-based instruction and lengthy naps are long gone, replaced by desk work, limited recess, and direct instruction. Overall, programs are much more academically rigorous than most parents anticipate.

But it’s not just the academic content that overwhelms students. In my role as a school occupational therapist, kindergarten teachers are constantly approaching me in the hallways begging for tips on how to improve their students’ fine motor and self-help skills. So I was inspired to create a list of the ones that students struggle with the most upon entering kindergarten. With a little practice, your child can be the shining star in kindergarten in no time!

Remember, however, that these are just some suggestions to get you started. Feel free to use your imagination and get creative, and, most importantly, don’t panic if your child hasn’t mastered everything on the list before August rolls around. As long as your little one practices a number of these activities, this will build her confidence, and you will find (as will her teacher) that she has a strong foundation to build upon, come fall!

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Kindergarten Skills: What Kids Should Know for Kindergarten

Using glue

Have your child practice using a glue bottle, including removing the dried piece of glue that gets stuck over the cap. She should practice twisting the cap to open it, then squeeze the bottle with just the right amount of pressure to place one drop of glue onto a specific spot. Use a pen to mark small dots of different sizes on a piece of paper so that she can practice squeezing different amounts of glue to cover
the dots.
Photo credit:

— Anne Zachry

About the author: Anne Zachry is a pediatric occupational therapist, wife, and mother of three. She has a PhD in Educational Psychology.


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5 thoughts on “10 Skills to Teach Your Toddler Before Kindergarten

  1. Jenny says:

    So glad you wrote this! I, too, see so many kids ill prepared for Kindergarten. I wish every parent could read this list!

  2. Melissa says:

    Some of these I would have never thought of. Thanks.

  3. sarah says:

    Is this a joke? I need to teach my child how to color “inside the lines” in order to succeed in kindergarten? I’m a pretty traditional parent, but this just sounds crazy. It seems like coloring inside the lines has a lot less to do with motor skills and a lot more to do with creativity and personality.

  4. Cindy says:

    You forgot teach them to read! You need to relabel this article as things to teach your child before pre-kindergarten. By the time they get to kindergarten they are expected to have mastered all of this and be good readers & writers and do basic arithmetic. By the way, this age group is not classified as toddlers, they are pre-schoolers. Children stop being toddlers once they have mastered walking & running skills by the age of three.

  5. Lydia Grace says:

    I guess I fail then. When I was in 5th grade, I still had trouble coloring in the lines. :) While some of these skills are important and I work on them with the kids I watch, I think we also need to slow down, let kids be kids, and not expect them to need to master everything right away.

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