SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Basic Educational Benchmarks for Your Four, Five, and Six Year Old Child

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Parents often ask me what young children should be able to accomplish before entering nursery school, Kindergarten, or First Grade. Following is a basic list of important skills any young child needs for school success. National standards, reading and writing programs, early math programs and teaching experience helped me compile this basic list.

By the age of four, your child should be able to:

  • Recognize some letters of the alphabet, primarily letters that appear in their name.
  • Be able to count from one to ten.
  • Be able to count objects to match numbers from one to ten.
  • Be able to hear rhyming words.
  • Be able to recognize and identify eight basic colors. (Red, blue, yellow, green, brown, orange, purple, and black.)
  • Be able to recognize four basic shapes. (Circle, Square, Triangle, Rectangle)
  • Be able to recite their full name, their age, and address for safety reasons.

By the age of five, your child should be able to:

  • Identify, in order, capital and lowercase letters of the alphabet.
  • Recognize all the letters in their first name. For this age group it could be written in all capital letters, but I strongly suggest using one capital and the rest lowercase. I suggest this because it makes for an easier transition to the printed word.
  • Recognize and identify the eight basic colors, and know four color words. (Red, blue, yellow, and orange)
  • Be able to identify two words that rhyme.
  • Recognize a triangle, circle, square, rectangle, and rhombus (diamond shape.)
  • Be able to count and recognize numerals zero to twenty.
  • Be able to count objects to match numbers one to twenty.
  • Be able to recite their full name and age, address, parent’s name, and phone number. (Again, for safety reasons)

By the age of six, your child should be able to:

  • Be able to identify capital and lowercase letters, out of order.
  • Recognize the letters in their first and last name. For this age group letters in their name should always be written with one capital letter and the rest lowercase.
  • Be able to count orally to 50, or higher.
  • Be able to count objects to match random numbers 1-50.
  • Be able to write the numerals 0-30, and count forward and backwards from 0-20.
  • Recognize a triangle, circle, square, rectangle, rhombus, and hexagon.
  • Be able to recognize the words for the eight basic colors. (Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Brown, Black, Orange, and Purple)
  • When given a word ("cat") be able to say a rhyming word ("hat.")
  • Be able to recite their full name, age and birth date, address, phone number, and parent’s name.


#2 areerata 2010-12-31 14:58
Thank you.
I learned a lot from you.
#1 Mona 2010-05-05 14:23
Great guidelines - and thanks to my daughter's wonderful teachers she surpassed them. It is good to have all of this in writing as it is difficult to get this information from sources that a reliable source. Great job, Mrs. McCarthy!

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