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Kindergarten English Language Arts skills: Find out what you need to know

In kindergarten, children focus on learning how to read and write.
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In kindergarten, children discover that sounds and letters can be combined to make words, words can be put together to make sentences and that sentences can be written down for us to read. Students also learn to listen carefully to stories, poems and informational books and to read common words and simple books.

Through books, conversations and experimenting with language, kindergartners learn many new words and use this growing vocabulary to share ideas and information in discussions with classmates. They begin to write and use a combination of writing, drawing, and dictating to describe their experiences and to give information.

Reading & writing

Matching letters to sounds

Name upper and lowercase letters and match them to their sounds.

Recognizing and blending sounds

Recognize beginning sounds and blend sounds into simple words.

Common words

Quickly read short, common words (e.g. a, the, and, to) “by sight.”

Understanding books and writing

Develop basic understandings about books and writing.


  • Follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page while reading or being read to.
  • Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.
  • Name the author and illustrator of a story and explain what each does.
  • Recognize and name periods and question marks.

Simple books

Read simple books with understanding.

Engaging with many books and materials

Actively engage with many different kinds of books and printed materials.

Some sample texts:

  • "Over in the Meadow" by John Langstaff
  • "Pancakes for Breakfast" by Tomie DePaola
  • "Kitten’s First Full Moon" by Kevin Henkes
  • "Truck" by Donald Crews
  • "I Read Signs" by Tana Hoban
  • "Amazing Whales!" by Sarah L. Thomson

Asking and answering questions

Ask and answer questions about stories and informational books.


  • What or who is this story about? What happens in the story? How does the story end?
  • What is this article or book about? What is the author explaining? What did we learn from this?

Retelling familiar stories

Retell familiar stories- identify characters, settings and major events.

Understanding words and pictures

Get information from the words and the pictures in a book.

Uppercase and lowercase letters

Print most uppercase and lowercase letters.

Capitalizing and punctuating

Capitalize the first word in a sentence and end each sentence with a period or question mark.

Spelling words the way they sound

Use knowledge of letters and sounds to spell words the way they sound.

Stories, information, and opinions

Use a combination of drawing, speaking and writing to:

  • tell a story
  • give information
  • state an opinion

Listening & speaking

Understanding and using new words

Understand and use many new words.


  • Understand and use question words (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).
  • Use common prepositions (e.g., to, from, in, out, on, off,).
  • Understand words learned in science and social studies (e.g., hibernation, tradition)

Clear expression

Express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Conversations and discussions

Participate in conversations and follow rules for discussions (e.g., listen to others and take turns speaking).

For tips to help your kindergartner in English Language Arts class, check out our kindergarten English Language Arts tips page.

Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts and align with the Common Core State Standards.