What Kind of Skills Do Children Develop in Kindergarten?

Kindergarten introduces children to the fundamentals of reading, writing and math in a fun, hands-on way. It also helps them develop cognitive skills, such as problem-solving and logical reasoning.

By the end of kindergarten, kids should know all the letters and their sounds, and they’ll be able to read high-frequency sight words.

Physical Development

Children develop physically at a very rapid rate and kindergarten provides many opportunities for them to engage with their bodies in ways they haven’t before. This physical development is a necessary foundation for other areas of learning – it increases strength, muscle control and coordination. It also contributes to cognitive development – as they interact with their environments children learn about the properties of objects and their own capabilities.

During this time, children cultivate their gross motor skills, or large muscle movements such as standing and walking, and they develop their fine motor skills, which involve the coordination of small muscle movements such as drawing, threading, or pressing. These movements are supported by the Experience Curriculum, which offers children an opportunity to explore their environment while engaging in activities that stimulate and challenge their growing muscles.

As a result, children’s balance and posture improve and they may begin to grasp concepts of symmetry and measurement. As children progress through this stage, it is important for educators and parents to provide regular feedback on their growth.

Social Development

The social-emotional skills that children develop in kindergarten prepare them for learning, forming relationships and navigating their emotions. These skills include prosocial behaviors (helping others, being kind to peers and adults), classroom behavior and self-regulation.

Unlike preschool, kindergarten is typically structured much like a formal classroom with a set curriculum and regular progress updates and parent-teacher conferences. Teachers are able to identify and help kids who may be struggling academically or socially.

Using a latent class growth model, we found that the home-rearing environment and demographic characteristics of kindergarten students predict distinct trajectories in their social skills development. Girls have a higher-level trajectory of social skills throughout kindergarten, while boys have a slightly lower-level trajectory. These findings suggest that gender differences in social skill development persist during kindergarten and indicate a need to provide more targeted social skills intervention for boys. This is particularly critical given the increased prevalence of homeschooling, which can lead to boys missing out on these important early social skills development opportunities.

Language and Literacy

The language and literacy skills children develop during kindergarten help them become competent readers. These include early writing skills, recognition of upper and lowercase letters and their sounds and a growing vocabulary.

Kindergarten also introduces basic math concepts such as counting and understanding number relationships. Kindergartners learn to identify numbers, count groups of objects, compare the size of different objects and groups and begin addition.

The term “kindergarten” translates to “garden for children,” and was coined by Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel, who founded the first kindergarten classroom in 1837 in Germany. His educational philosophy emphasized play and games as an important part of learning.

As families prepare kids for kindergarten, MSU Extension recommends nightly family reading and library visits. The goal is to make reading a fun and motivating experience rather than a chore for young children, so that they have a strong foundation for future academic success. Early literacy experiences are important for all kids.


Counting and number sense are key skills for kindergarten, along with basic addition and subtraction. Children are also introduced to basic patterns and learn to recognize and create shapes. They also begin to grasp concepts like size, recognizing that some objects are bigger than others.

You can help your child with these early math skills by sorting and classifying objects at home. For example, you might ask your child to group items based on their color or shape, or you could use a picture graph to show your child how to compare data sets. You can also start to introduce them to simple measurements by letting them cook with you and measuring ingredients or creating a height chart.

Providing these opportunities will support your child’s healthy relationship with math and foster the development of strong problem-solving skills. Remember to celebrate their successes, especially when they get a concept right. This positive feedback will keep their confidence up, and can even encourage them to work harder when they encounter a challenge.

What Kind of Skills Do Children Develop in Kindergarten?
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