People can think of kindergarten as a time of learning to play nice with others before starting school, when the real work will begin. While there is a definite element of truth in the essay All I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten and that way of approaching the kindergarten experience, kindergarten is actually a very important year academically. Aside from learning the Golden Rule and remembering to put away what they get out, children will spend the year learning how to manipulate the alphabet and numbers and establishing a foundation for some basic academic skills.

Here is a partial list of the academic skills your child should have grasped by the end of kindergarten, with an ALP-style twist of humor.

Basic skill set:

coherently retell a story that has been read aloud – keeping the facts straight is important throughout life.

establish right or left-handed dominance – Useful when writing, shaking hands, and eating.

understand time concepts like yesterday, today, tomorrow – Yesterday, I asked for a puppy. Today I am asking for a puppy. Tomorrow I will ask for a puppy again.

understand spatial concepts like over, under, behind, before – because we have to be able to tell our parents where the monsters are hiding.

hold a pencil correctly – even if it seems more fun to scribble, it’s a part of being a big kid.

recognize and name the 8 basic colors – Let’s face it, life without colors would be a terrible thing.

recognize and name basic shapes (square, triangle, circle, rectangle) – Things in life rarely fall in these exact shapes, but it’s a great starting place.

state his/her address and phone number – it’s almost as important as remembering not to talk to strangers and staying put if you realize you’re lost.

There are many other skills a kindergartener will need to have mastered by the end of kindergarten. Check back for more information about kindergarten alphabet and number skills.

If what you’ve read so far has given you some concern for your child, be proactive about potential problems. Early intervention is the key to long-term success.