What do kids learn in kindergarten

What do kids learn in kindergarten
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.

Prevention activities

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

In kindergarten for 4- and 5-year-olds, your child will receive three report cards that let you know how they’re progressing. Instead of letter grades, evaluations are based on a proficiency scale that indicates whether your child is progressing “very well,” “adequately,” “with some difficulty” or “with significant difficulty” in the program’s five competencies.

The teacher may also leave comments about your child’s progress or where they may be struggling. 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 a comment. This will give you an idea of how to help your little one improve.

Homework and lessons
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 are an opportunity for you to see with the teacher if your child is getting on well in class 


Naître et grandir

Scientific review: Alain Bonenfant, retired education consultant
Research and copywriting:
The Naître et grandir team
Updated: December 2023

Photo : Nicolas St-Germain

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

  • Homework and Studying, M.-C. Béliveau, Éditions du CHU Sainte-Justine, 2010, 68 pp.
  • LessonsLearned: The Kindergarten Survival Guide for Parents, J. Podest, Balboa Press, 2014, 108 pp.
  • Ready For Kindergarten!: From Recognizing Colors to Making Friends, Your Essential Guide to Kindergarten Prep, D. J. Stewart, Adams Media Corporation, 2013, 224 pp.
  • The Littlest Learners: Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten, D. R. Roginski, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2017, 160 pp.

Books for kids

  • Dad’s First Day, M. Mohnoutka, Bloomsbury Press Agency, 2015, 32 pp.
  • How to Be Kind in Kindergarten: A Book for Your Backpack, author: D. J. Steinberg, ill.: R. Hammond, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2021, 32 pp.
  • How Will I Get to School This Year?, author: J. Pallotta, ill.: D. Biedrzycki, Scholastic Canada, 2013, 32 pp.
  • Kindergarten Countdown!: 10 more sleeps until school starts, author:M. Blain Parker, ill.: S. Borrows, Streling Children’s Books, 2017, 32 pp.
  • Kindergarten: Where Kindness Matters Every Day. author: VAhiyya, ill.: JChou, Random House, 2022, 40 pp.
  • Our Class is a Family, author: S. Olsen, ill.: S. Sonke, Shannon Olsen, 2020, 28 pp.
  • Ready, Set, Kindergarten!, author: P. Ayer, ill.: D. Abour, Annick Press, 2015, 24 pp.
  • School Rules, author: R. Munsch, ill.: D. Whamond, Scholastic Canada, 2019, 32 pp.
  • The King of Kindergarten, author: D. Barnes, ill.: V. Brantley-Newton, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2019, 32 pp.
  • The Night Before Preschool, author: N. Wing, ill.: A. Wummer, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2016, 22 pp.
  • The Queen of Kindergarten, author: D. Barnes, ill.: V. Brantley-Newton, Penguin Young Readers Group, 2022, 32 pp.


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