Children learn a lot through play! Find out what skills your child will develop in kindergarten at ages 4 and 5.
Don’t be surprised if your little one spends a lot of time playing in kindergarten. Children learn a lot through play! Find out what skills your child will develop in kindergarten at ages 4 and 5.
When children play, they develop their language skills, imagination, and creativity. Up until age 6, no activity is more important to a child’s learning and development than play. Play teaches kids to get along with others, share, wait their turn and follow rules. It also allows them to communicate, experiment, and find solutions to problems.
What’s more, when a child is having fun, they feel good and happy, which makes learning easier. In other words, playtime helps kids develop a positive attitude toward school. That’s why kindergarten education is so heavily focused on play.
In kindergarten, there are two periods of 45 to 60 minutes per day each day devoted to free play. Children choose with what and with whom they play.
Kindergarten education has two main objectives:
To foster children’s global development.
To take preventive action to promote learning.
To achieve them, Quebec’s preschool education program focuses on developing five competencies, which are promoted through play, guided activities, discussion, and class routines. Designed for children who are starting kindergarten at age 4 or 5, the program also includes prevention activities to help students develop the skills and behaviours required to do well in school.
The 5 competencies your child develops in kindergarten
1. Increases physical and motor development
In kindergarten, your child becomes more aware of their body and improves their physical abilities. To encourage this growth, their teacher will organize games that involve actions like dancing, running, crawling, and jumping. The goal is to get your little one moving so they can develop their gross motor skills.
Your child will also improve their fine motor skills through activities like drawing, painting, doing crafts (cutting, gluing, folding, etc.), and writing/forming letters and numbers using tools such as pencils, chalk, string, and clay.
In addition, your child learns about the importance of taking care of their body. For example, they might participate in workshops on how to brush their teeth, healthy eating, or relaxation techniques like yoga and breathing exercises.
2. Builds self-awareness
Various kindergarten activities are intended to help your little one express what they want and how they feel. They learn to become more independent, and their self-confidence grows.
To encourage self-awareness, your child’s teacher will regularly ask them to talk about themself by relating a memory or an event. Your child will learn to recognize different emotions and how to find the right words to express themself. They’ll also get to do activities that foster creativity, such as symbolic play, drawing, painting, and playing musical instruments.
Furthermore, the kindergarten teacher will establish class routines to help their students become more autonomous. For example, by getting used to a snacktime routine, your child will learn to wash their hands before eating, clean up their spot at the table when they’re done, and put away their lunchbox.
Finally, your child will learn to stay organized throughout the day through routine actions such as getting their school supplies together, hanging their clothes up in their locker, and putting toys away. This will help your child become autonomous, boost their self-confidence, and give them a sense of pride.
3. Maintains harmonious relationships with others
To get along with the other kids in their class, your child must learn to respect both their own needs and the needs of others. They also need to find ways to resolve disagreements and learn to share and work with others.
Among other things, your little one will develop these skills by playing with their classmates. With the help of their teacher, they’ll learn to behave appropriately not only with their playmates, but also with the other adults they interact with at school.
The teacher may also support your child by telling them stories involving minor problems or asking them to come up with solutions to specific situations. For instance, the teacher might ask, “What can you do if your friend has their hands full and drops a pencil on the floor?” or, “What can you do if a friend is playing with a toy that another student wants to play with too?”
4. Communicates using oral and written language
In kindergarten, your child learns to listen to instructions and participate in discussions. They develop their ability to express themself verbally and discover reading and writing conventions.
The teacher will often tell stories to expand your child’s vocabulary while developing their language comprehension and attention span. Through books, they may also learn some of the rules of reading and writing, such as reading direction and elements like titles, authors, and sentences.
Your child’s language development is also strengthened by the songs and rhymes they learn in kindergarten, as well as the games they play. If they’re playing with a castle, for instance, they might use the vocabulary they picked up a few days earlier while reading a story set in the Middle Ages. In the classroom, there will be a corner transformed into a house, a grocery store, or a nurse’s office where your little one can play pretend and practise their language skills.
The teacher will use various activities, such as reading children’s books, to show students the names and sounds of the letters of the alphabet. The kids are also encouraged to play with syllables to attempt reading and writing. These activities are designed to ensure that your child knows the names and sounds of most of the letters of the alphabet by the end of kindergarten for 5-year-olds.
5. Discovers the world around them
A kindergarten teacher’s role is to help them make sense of the world around them. Through fun activities, your child will be introduced to math, science, geography, history, and art.
The teacher could have them play games that require skills like sorting, counting, or grouping items. Your child might also do simple science experiments to see what objects float and what objects sink. In addition, they might look at postcards and talk about them with the teacher and other students to learn about different cities and countries.
Every day, the kindergarten teacher will organize prevention activities to foster their students’ learning and global development. Specifically, these activities will allow the teacher to see whether certain kids are dealing with particular challenges in areas that are critical to academic success, such as emotional regulation or learning the alphabet.
They can then address those challenges by organizing targeted prevention activities, such as group or one-on-one workshops. For example, they might use children’s books to improve a child’s vocabulary or help them learn to put their feelings into words.
Prevention activities can be led by other school personnel trained in psychoeducation, special education, or speech therapy.
Report cards and evaluations
For the time being, there is no report card in kindergarten for 4-year-olds, but you’ll receive written communications with comments from the teacher about how your child is doing. In kindergarten for 5-year-olds, your child will receive two or three report cards. A letter grade from A to D is assigned to each of the five competencies, and the teacher may leave comments. Kindergarten assessment methods are subject to modification by the Ministère de l’Éducation. The teaching staff at your child’s school will be able to inform you of any changes.
Report cards are a way to see how your little one is progressing and whether they’re struggling with any aspects of the kindergarten program. If they are having difficulties, you can talk to their teacher about how to help them. You have the option to meet with the teacher after the first report card is sent out. This is a good opportunity to ask if your child pays attention in class, if they understand instructions, or if they’re having trouble with certain activities. You can also ask questions if you’re concerned about a particular behaviour or grade.
In kindergarten, homework isn’t mandatory. If the teacher assigns any, it’ll generally be brief and intended to prepare your child for upcoming lessons. For example, if the goal for the week is to learn the letter b, the teacher might ask parents to spend 10 minutes or so of playtime each day helping their child come up with words containing a b sound. The aim is not to overload your child with work, but simply to set aside a few minutes to support their learning.
Things to keep in mind
Playing is the springboard for learning in kindergarten.
The kindergarten program is designed to promote children’s overall development and prevent academic difficulties.
Report cards and written communications are an opportunity for you to see with the teacher if your child is getting on well in class
Scientific review: Alain Bonenfant, preschool education consultant, Centre de services scolaires des Patriotes
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: December 2021
Useful links and resources
Please note that hyperlinks to other websites are not updated regularly, and some may have changed since publication. If a link is no longer valid, use search engines to find the relevant information.
Books for parents
- Au retour de l’école... La place des parents dans l’apprentissage scolaire, 3e édition, M.-C. Béliveau, Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2019, 272 p.
- Les grandes émotions des tout-petits, S. Bourque, Éditions Midi trente, 2020, 144 p.
- Petit Loup entre à l’école, S. Bourque, Éditions Midi trente, 2012, 96 p.
- Petit Loup se sent bien à l’école, S. Bourque, Éditions Midi trente, 2015, 96 p.
Books for kids
- 1,2,3 à l’école, M. Dubuc, Casterman, 2020, 32 p.
- À l’école, les grands!, texte: A. M. Bergeron, ill.: Maco, Éditions Imagine, 2012, 32 p.
- Allons à l’école, texte: L. Charlesworth, ill.: M. Baker, Éditions Scholastic, 2015, 16. p.
- En route pour l’école, collectif, Éditions Hemma, 2015, 16 p.
- Gédéon va à l’école, L. Wall, Éditions Scholastic, 2014, 24 p.
- J’adore l’école! texte : R. Munsch, ill. : D. Whamond, Éditions Scholastic, 2020, 32 p.
- J’aime la maternelle avec Biscuit et Cassonade, C. Munger et C. Chabot, Éditions de la Bagnole, 2018, 48 p.
- Je ne veux pas aller à l’école, texte : E. Abécassis, ill.: A. Siroy, Éditions Thomas Jeunesse, 2013, 28 p.
- Je suis capable! C’est la rentrée, D. Pelletier, Éditions Scholastic, 2015, 24. p.
- Je veux pas aller à l’école, S. Blake, École des loisirs, 2011
- La grande école, ton album de la rentrée, texte : J. Rochefort, ill. : J Morin, Éditions Fonfon, 2011, 32 p.
- La rentrée de Gaston, S. Yoon, Éditions Scholastic, 2016, 40 p.
- La rentrée de papa, M. Wohnoutka, Éditions Scholastic, 2015, 40 p.
- La rentrée de Roudoudou, C. Bielinsky, Bayard Jeunesse, 2019, 26 p.
- Le monstre des couleurs va à l’école, A. Llenas, éditions Quatre fleuves, 2019, 38 p.
- Le premier jour d’école de Madame Pépin, texte: P. Robbins Janousky, ill.: M. Lands, Éditions Scholastic, 2017, 32 p.
- Les Monsieur Madame et la rentrée des classes, A. Hargreaves, Hachette, 2018, 40 p.
- Pat le chat : J’adore aller à l’école, texte: É. Litwin, ill. J. Dean, Éditions Scholastic, 2014, 40 p.
- Princesse Paola à la maternelle, texte: J. Couëlle, ill.: M. Arbona, Éditions Planète rebelle, 2012, 32 p.
- Roi de la maternelle, texte : D. D. Barns, ill.: V. B. Newton, Éditions Scholastic, 2020, 32 p.
- Qui sera mon professeur?, texte: J. Pallotta, ill.: D. Biedrzycki, Éditions Scholastic, 2014, 32 p.
- Qui m’amènera à l’école cette année?, texte: J. Pallotta, ill.: D. Biedrzycki, Éditions Scholastic, 2015, 32 p.
- Sam apprend à aimer l’école, texte: S. Martel, ill.: C. Battuz, Dominique et compagnie, 2010, 24 p.
Photos : Nicolas St-Germain