The Kindergarten school year is coming to an end and as a parent your thoughts are probably turning towards first grade.  Is your child ready for first grade reading? How do you know? On today’s post, I am going to share with you some important kindergarten reading benchmarks that will help you determine if your child is on the right path to reading success.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness has been identified in several research studies as the main indicator of how well a child will master beginning reading skills during kindergarten and first grade.  One of the major kindergarten reading benchmarks that determines a child’s reading readiness is his or her understanding of how the sounds work together.  When a child understands that spoken words are made up of separate, small sounds, he or she has developed phonemic awareness.   

By the end of Kindergarten, your child should be able to:

  • Pull apart words into different sounds.  For example, the word bat has three sounds – /b/, /a/, /t/.  The word chop also has three sounds – /ch/, /o/, /p/.   
  • Manipulate sounds in words by adding, deleting or substituting.  For example, n the word LAND, change the L to H. (HAND)
  • Identify beginning, middle and ending sounds in words
  • Recognize and make rhymes
  • Make the connection that words are made up of sounds and that sounds are made up of letters and letter combinations.

If you want to view a 2 minute video of me teaching phonemic awareness, then



Letter and Sound Recognition

Another important kindergarten reading benchmark identified in research is alphabet knowledge.  This is an essential skill for learning to read and spell.  Along with oral language and phonemic awareness, it represents one of the most important literacy skills that a child needs to acquire.  

By the end of Kindergarten, your child should be able to:

  • Identify most of the letters in the alphabet and their sounds
  • Know that letters and sounds form words
  • Blend two to three phonemes into recognizable words  (cat, him, sad, pot, etc.)
  • Recognize simple sight words (of, to, you, etc.)
  • Print the alphabet in both capital and lowercase letters
  • Read emergent-reader text with purpose and understanding

Books and Print

When children leave kindergarten, research has proven that children should be very familiar with the structure and use of print.  They should know about the format of print resources and the knowledge that books can bring them since most of their future education will depend on this.    

By the end of Kindergarten, your child should be able to:

  • Identify the title of the book
  • Know what an author and an illustrator do
  • Identify the parts of a book and how books are held and read
  • Follow print from left to right and from top to bottom
  • Understand that the print is the main message of most books, and not the pictures

Do you have concerns?

Not all children develop and learn at the same pace and in the same way.  Your child might be more advanced or need more help than others in his or her peer group.  You the parent, are the best judge of your child’s abilities and needs. The above Kindergarten Reading Benchmarks that I write about, are just guidelines.  They are not rules.

If you do have concerns about your child’s reading development and are interested in my Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and spelling program, check out:

>The PRIDE Reading Program <

This is an easy to use, heavily scripted out and affordable Orton-Gillingham reading program.  Although the program is primarily meant for students with learning differences, it benefits all readers.


Thank you so much for reading my post today!

Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at or visit the website at

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