It's the time of year when many schools begin registration for the upcoming school year. Before you know it, your child will be facing an all new set of academic challenges. If your child is falling behind in his class, that doesn't always mean he's not ready to advance to the next grade level. Check out these items of bare minimum academic skills your kid needs before setting foot in his next classroom.


Your 3- or 4-year-old should know how to do a few things when it comes to letters and numbers before the first day of school. Before preschool, your child should be able to:

  • Count to 10.
  • Recognize the first letter of his own name. Practice with one of our cute letter worksheets.
  • Understand and use words for objects and actions that come up regularly. To practice this, challenge your child to describe all his toys. 
  • Listen to a story. Try reading him a story and ask questions about it.


Preschool isn't an option for every child, but whether your child attends or not, there are certain things he should be able to do. Before kindergarten, your child should be able to:

  • Tell a story, real or fiction. He can describe the events of a television show, make up a story, or just tell you about his day.
  • Recognize his own name when it is written down.
  • Understand age-appropriate stories when they are read aloud. 
  • Use pencils or crayons. Check out these letter tracing worksheets that can help build your child's fine motor skills.

First Grade

First grade marks a sharp increase of serious academic rigor. Nap time is no more! Before first grade, your child should be able to:

  • Count to 20 and recognize individual numbers. These simple dot-to-dots are a fun way to practice numbers.
  • Know the entire alphabet.
  • Hold a book correctly and read from left to right.
  • Compare groups of objects and be able to say if one has more, less or the same amount as the other. 

Second Grade

Now that children are used to a school schedule and desk work, the learning really ramps up. Before second grade, your child should be able to: 

  • Sound out unfamiliar words.
  • Recognize the similarities and differences between two objects. 
  • Know if something is alive or not.
  • Know how to tell time on a clock and a calendar. Check out these worksheets on telling time.
  • Know how to count money.

Third Grade

Third grade is a huge year for new concepts, such as multiplication, division and deeper reading comprehension. Before third grade, your child should be able to:

  • Be comfortable adding and subtracting two- and three-digit numbers. If your kid needs more practice, use this set of two-digit addition worksheets.
  • Read with less "choppiness" and correct himself while reading.
  • Accurately summarize stories.
  • Use a ruler and measure cups accurately. Let him help you cook!
  • Use a map.

Fourth Grade

Your kid shouldn't expect as much hand holding from the teacher as he enters fourth grade. Help him take more ownership over his academic life. Before fourth grade, your child should be able to:

  • Understand how punctuation can add meaning to text. 
  • Make predictions about a story while reading.
  • Identify parts of speech, specifically nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. This set of adjective worksheets can help.
  • Know the basic multiplication tables. Flashcards are great for this one. 

Fifth Grade

It's the last year of elementary school. Make it count! Before fifth grade, your child should be able to: 

  • Solve long division problems. Here are some fun division worksheets for more practice.
  • Use proper punctuation when writing. 
  • Easily read and understand directions without outside help.
  • Accurately record observations in science. 
  • Use problem solving techniques to solve math word problems.

It's never a bad idea to take an active role in your child's education. You can be more than the homework police and the supplier of pencils, and repeating a grade isn't very fun to think about—for you or your kid. Help your child stay up to speed so he can start fresh next year.