Ready for Pre-K: Academic milestones

4 ways to tell if your child is academically ready for the next step.

Learning Stages

By Clement Chau, Ph.D.

LeapFrog Learning Expert

As the children and media expert on the Learning Team, Clement primarily works on toys and digital products related to social studies, creativity, life skills and early childhood development. Before joining LeapFrog, he was an early education consultant, a media literacy researcher at the MIT Comparative Media Studies department, a researcher at Children’s Hospital Boston, and a researcher and lecturer at the Tufts University Developmental Technologies Research Group. Clement received his PhD from Tufts University's Eliot Pearson Department of Child Development and completed his dissertation on evaluating children's mobile apps.

This is a stage of exciting expansion. Children this age seem to talk constantly, giving you a glimpse into their inner world. They are often bubbling with energy, busy practicing new language, social, physical and reasoning skills that are not yet perfected.

To understand whether your child is ready for the academic challenges of Pre-K, assess how your child compares to the following statements in 4 key areas.


  • I use mathematical language such as “bigger,” “circle,” and, “I’m three years old.”
  • I can match small quantities to the number words 1, 2 and 3.


  • I use realistic toys in pretend play.
  • I use a variety of art tools such as crayons, construction paper and pencils.
  • I like to dress up and act like all kinds of people and animals.


  • I show interest in letters and sounds.
  • I enjoy reading books with others.
  • I use language to communicate for a variety of purposes (such as describing something, telling stories, asking for things)


  • I am interested in animals.
  • I ask lots of questions because I am curious about my environment.