Getting ready for school

Preschool children are curious, enthusiastic and full of energy. Their skills are growing and changing quickly. They are more aware of the needs of others and starting to think before they act. They try hard to be independent, but still need parents and caregivers to guide and support them.

By the time your preschooler is 4 years old, you may be wondering whether they are ready for kindergarten. If your 4-year-old is doing the following things, it’s a good sign that they are likely developing as expected and will be all set for school:


• Jump over objects
• Catch a ball with both hands
• Build a tower of 10 blocks or more
• Turn the pages of a book one at a time
• Wash and dry hands
• Open a door by turning the handle
• Put clothes on; take clothes off
• Eat using a fork or spoon


• Name some of their feelings and the feelings of others
• Understands and can obey limits (even if they don’t always listen)
• Is starting to use their words to express emotion instead of tantrums
• Is learning to take turns and share with other children


• Uses 4-5 words or more together in a sentence
• Speaks clearly enough that most people can understand them
• Follows directions that have 2 or 3 steps. Example: go to your room, find your book and bring it to me.
• Answers who, what, why, where and when questions
• Counts to 10
• Sings simple songs or nursery rhymes

All children, starting at age four, should get two vaccines, which protect against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox, before they begin kindergarten. An immunization visit is a great way to catch up on other shots that might have been missed as part of a child’s infant vaccination series. You can book your immunization appointment at your local public health centre.

Your child should now be well into toilet training, though accidents are still common for preschoolers. They may also not be able to stay dry at night and that’s okay too. Learn more about toilet training.

Have a look at this fact sheet about child development from the age of three to five years in English, ChineseSpanish and Vietnamese. There is a “When to be concerned” section that is mainly for parents of 4 year olds. If you’re concerned that your child is falling behind, you can contact your Public Health Nurse or health care provider.

A preschool or other child care setting may be a good way for your child to get used to a routine away from home, learn to play with other children and get new skills to prepare them for school. You can read more about child care to see if there may be one that is right for your family.