Help Me Grow | United Way of Utah County

Kindergarten: Is Your Child Ready?

This week I went to Target and saw that all of the school items are out and school shopping has already begun! As a result to this sighting, I was laying in bed reminiscing on my kindergarten experience. My son is not nearly old enough for Kindergarten, but I wonder how his experience might be different from mine when that day does come. I remember a few things from Kindergarten very distinctly, like coloring a picture of an apple on my first day. I also remember the fear that built up when my teacher would ask me when my birthday was; I would respond, “December 6 1999!” and every time she would say, “No, that is not right.” I do not remember when I actually figured out that what she meant to ask was, “What day and year were you born?” and that without fail, I was giving her the current year rather than the year I was actually born. So, what do children need to know these days?

In Utah, there are quite a few expectations for Kindergarten that are very different from when I started out on that adventure some twenty years ago. There are fine and gross motor skills, social skills, and academic skills that children are expected to know before they begin. There is a great infographic on Kindergarten readiness found through Utah’s government website. This lists all of the expectations for your child before they start Kindergarten. Below you will find some activities that can help develop your little one’s abilities.

Fine Motor

Practice using scissors! Now is a great time to find scissors sized perfectly for their hands. Using scrap paper you can draw straight and curved lines and let your children practice cutting. If they have never used scissors before, show them how to hold and cut exactly the way you want them to do it. Then let them try it out!

For some more creative ways to practice this skill, head over to our Pinterest Page and find some cute, and free, printables!

Gross Motor


Can your little one walk in a straight line? This is a great summer activity if you have a sidewalk and some chalk. Draw a straight line and practice walking forward and backward on it. Then have fun jumping and hopping over the line. With or without using your chalk line, have your child stand on their dominant foot- balancing for ten seconds is the goal.


When I was in kindergarten, I remember learning about shapes. Now kindergarteners are expected to know basic shapes, and how to draw them, on day one. Practice identifying circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles. You can turn a six-sided game die into a shape die, or make a bigger version with any block or cube you may have. Place a picture of a simple shape on each side of the die. Let your child roll the die; have them name and then try to draw whatever shape the die lands on.


Knowing their own first and last name, and their parent’s or guardian’s names is important for little ones. In addition, it is ideal that your little ones can separate from you without any undue anxiety. Many children have separation anxiety, this is a normal part of development. For tips on how to help prepare children and reduce potential anxiety, check out this blog post.


Your child does not need to know all of the letters of the alphabet before kindergarten. As long as they know that the letters represent specific sounds they should be just fine. Practice identifying the first sound heard in a random word to help your little ones learn to differentiate letter sounds.

For example, when driving through your neighborhood you can point to a stop sign and say, “That sign says ‘stop’ so we are stopping the car. What sound does ‘stop’ start with? ‘ssssss’ is the sound for the letter S”

​Other Requirements

Often, public schools have requirements outside of the development and education of your child. In Utah specifically, public schools have several immunization requirements. The following list is a brief description, you can view Utah’s 2018 immunization guidebook for more information or visit your local health department.

As of 2018, the following vaccinations are required for students entering kindergarten.

5 DTap/DT*

4 Polio*

2 Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)

3 Hepatitis B

2 Hepatitis A

2 Varicella (Chickenpox)

*age at administration may change dosage requirements.

Don’t let these requirements be daunting, many of these skills can be taught to your child during everyday tasks. Children learn best through play anyway, so finding simple ways to enrich the play experience will teach them many of the skills they will need to be successful in Kindergarten. For ideas on how to foster the above 5 skills, visit our Pinterest page for ideas or speak to one of our Parent Support Specialists by calling 801-691-5322.

What are some of your child’s favorite things to do to prepare for school? Do they enjoy reading books, writing stories, or drawing shapes? Let us know in the comments below!


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