Readiness for Kindergarten

Before Kindergarten #11 Familiarity with Numbers, Letters, Rhyming Words

Are Numbers a Friend for Your Child?

To Dr. Dan Gartell, readiness is a state of mind, not one of knowledge. Familiarity with , numbers, letters, and rhyming words helps kids’ peace of mind. Being in a new situation like daycare, playschool, preschool, or kindergarten is exciting but also scary for kids. Every bit of familiarity helps. If children have played with letters, numbers, and words at home, encountering them at a center or school is like meeting a friend.

before kindergarten familiarity with numbers letters rhyming words

Familiarity with numbers does not mean flash cards and drills. It means noticing numbers all around us, on signs, houses, packages at the store, toy cars, etc. We can use numbers in ordinary, everyday situations from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night. What number does the clock say? Count the buttons on a shirt. Are three spoons of cereal enough in one bowl? Make sure there are 10 toes in socks. Are there enough plates on the table? Count the steps to the car. At the playground, kids can tell us how many pushes they want on the swings.

familiarity with numbers


Toy cars often have numbers of them, but other toys have numbers too. When kids make block towers, is one higher than another? More and less are math concepts, as in empty and full. Kids can fill and dump a pail of sand. A muffin tin is perfect for exploring one-to-one matching. Kids can put one toy or one apple in each space. Figuring out one number for one item is critical for number sense. Games use numbers too.

math activities and games

Sand, foam or magnetic numbers, and play dough are numbers kids can touch and feel. Numbers poured on pancakes are one kids can taste. Books and songs about numbers are ones kids can see and hear. But please, No More Monkeys Jumping On the Bed.

math stories for kids

Unfortunately, one in four children will have math anxiety. Is this something that affects you as an adult? Giving kids lots of opportunities and experiences to develop familiarity with numbers turns them into welcome friends instead of scary enemies. Are they part of your child’s day?

(Tomorrow and the next day, we’ll check out letters and words. In the meantime, there is more on the Before I Go to Kindergarten infographic checklist.)

Before I Go to Kindergarten #10: Physical Development for Kids

Physical development for kids can vary greatly, especially during the preschool years of 0 to 5, but follows a similar pattern and sequence.

physical development milestones for kids

The milestone, “I can hop on 1 foot, jump, and run, is quite general. It is only meant as a guideline not as something kids have to do by the end of preschool. In any case, most kids at this age are running and jumping. So much so that we are usually asking them to slow down, particularly in the house or play center.

This item on the checklist is far from meaningless though. It reminds us that kids have demanding physical needs at this point. They must be active and on the go, not just for healthy bodies but healthy minds too.

Brains and bodies are partners in development. From birth, the child actively programs and stimulates the brain through movement. Repetitive movements install pathways and create wiring used in learning. For example, from the left-right, left-right pattern in crawling the brain makes the pattern connections. Language uses patterns and so does math.

Movement activities of the vigorous and frequent kind are critical for bodies and brains, physical hearts and emotional ones too. Communication follows this alternating pattern your turn then my turn. Relationships are also based on it in a give and take exchange.

Kids grow and develop at their own rate and in their own time. Somehow though, as parents and caregivers, we can’t resist comparing our children to others. Have you ever heard yourself asking another parent, “Does your child walk yet?” or “Is your child talking?” From their answers, we either reassure ourselves our kids are okay or we worry. Just in case you didn’t know, teachers do this too. We inquire, “How many of the kids in your class are reading?” and “What section are your students doing in math?” Then we go back to our classrooms and secretly do a little dance or pace and fret. “Own rate and own time!” should be in big letters at the entrance to every playground and school.whole body play

For a play-of-the-day, include some movement activities like time in the playground or park, running in the yard, jumping around like popcorn, and more. What other movement play activities can you suggest for physical development for kids?

The rest of this infographic checklist is on the first Before I Go to Kindergarten post.

Before I Go to Kindergarten #9: Play and Group Skills for Kids

Before going to kindergarten, preschool, daycare, or any other play programs, some play and group skills for kids will make their life a lot more fun.

play and group skills for kids

We might think that kids come already knowing how to play. To some extent this is certainly true. Even animals like to play and have fun. There are wonderful video clips of a fierce lion chasing a ball around an enclosure, a bear splashing in backyard pools, a baby elephant rolling a hula hoop, and more. Most kids have play abilities already downloaded in their brain, but as parents and caregivers we also teach kids about play.


Balls are a favorite toy of kids. When babies are sitting on the floor playing with a ball we reach out for it and roll it back. We encourage the baby to roll the ball and eventually our message gets through to roll it to us. Another play interaction might be as a child is eating a cookie. We pretend to take a bite, make some silly noises, and laugh. This is an early lesson in pretend play. There are countless other ways we teach kids about play that we don’t even realize.

play and group skills for kids

Before kids go to daycare, playschool, preschool, and kindergarten, it’s important for them to have had lots of play experiences and opportunities to be part of a group. Some will have had more than others and a few children will have shy personalities. Being able to interact with kids their own age will help children feel more comfortable and confident in a group.

Besides play skills, kids also need to be able to communicate with their words and bodies. A smile is one way to invite a response, so is a simple question like, “Do you want to play?” Kids need words so they can express themselves and negotiate. “Stop, that’s hurting me!” is a way to protect oneself and is more acceptable than hitting. Knowing the names for emotions and how to read facial expressions are helpful play and group skills.  play and group skills for kids

Many communities have programs and facilities we can access for children’s play. Parks, tot lots, and playgrounds are available anytime. There could also be art programs, gym times, and recreation activities available with parents or for kids by themselves. Families might want to exchange play-dates and get-togethers. How do you support developing play and group skills for kids?

Do you want to come over and play? Each day on the 123kindergarten blog, there’s a play-of-the-day inspiration. An earlier post has more of Before I Go to Kindergarten infographic checklist.

Before I Go to Kindergarten #8: Feelings and Emotions for Kids

Feelings and emotions for kids is proving to impact their time and achievement at school more than we realized. Kids need our support and example early.  Long before kindergarten, at home, daycare, play programs, and preschool. The following is a post from an earlier series. There is a tendency to focus on academics and think … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #8: Feelings and Emotions for Kids

Before I Go to Kindergarten #7: Sharing and Taking Turns for Kids

Is your child going to kindergarten, playschool, daycare, or preschool? Sharing and taking turns for kids are two early and important social skills. We can support kids as they develop and practice these. The early years, that is before the age of 5, are the most sensitive time for learning social skills. We might think … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #7: Sharing and Taking Turns for Kids

Before I Go to Kindergarten #6: Young Children and Separation Anxiety

Will your child be “leaving the nest” for playschool, preschool, daycare, or kindergarten? Young children and separation anxiety can be an issue. Concerns about being on their own is quite normal in young children and varies greatly. Most toddlers and preschoolers can handle being separated from parents and caregivers for short, planned stretches of time. … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #6: Young Children and Separation Anxiety

Before I Go to Kindergarten #5: Routines Help Young Children

The day after Labor Day usually means back to routines. Did you know routines help young children, despite our adult unfavorable opinion of routines? For children, a routine is a sort of security blanket. While they can’t see or feel it, they can use it to feel more comfortable. A routine is quite dependable and … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #5: Routines Help Young Children

Before I Go to Kindergarten #3: Self-Help Skills for Young Children

Before going to kindergarten, preschool, daycare, or playschool, it helps if we encourage some basic self-help skills for young children, like the bathroom! Being independent in bathroom needs is one of the biggies for young kids.  Some programs will have separate washrooms or restrooms, but in larger centers there could be ones used by other … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #3: Self-Help Skills for Young Children

Following Instructions Helps Kids Going to Kindergarten

Series Part #20: Is Following Instructions a Challenge for Your Child? Before children go to kindergarten, some areas do a readiness assessment, and one item is often following directions or instructions. This can be a concern for some children and the problem is not because a child has not heard or listened to the instructions. … Continue reading Following Instructions Helps Kids Going to Kindergarten