National Kindergarten Preparedness Survey Results

Executive Summary

Age of Learning, Inc. is a Glendale, California, company that has launched a global education initiative intended to provide young children with a strong foundation for future academic success. One of the goals of this initiative is the collection and dissemination of information about early childhood education in the United States and English language learning around the world.

The objective of the survey summarized herein, which sheds light on the significant gap between what children should know when they enter kindergarten and what they do know, is to provide parents with specific suggestions on how to better prepare young children for school during the critical years from birth through age five.

This summary represents the responses of 518 kindergarten teachers from across the United States to an online survey conducted between October 7 and October 23. Potential respondents were invited by email to participate in an online survey. Respondents were qualified as working in the field of education, and then further qualified as kindergarten teachers. Both private school teachers and public school teachers were included. The margin of error for this survey is ±4.3% at a 95 percent confidence interval.

Summary of Findings

America’s kindergarten teachers believe most young children are unprepared for school when they enter kindergarten, and veteran kindergarten teachers believe that this situation is deteriorating.

Respondents were asked how well prepared academically children are when first entering the kindergarten classroom. Sixty-five point six percent (65.6%) stated that children are “only somewhat prepared” or are “not at all prepared,” with 8.5% stating that children entering kindergarten are “not at all prepared.” Only 5.6% stated that children are “very well-prepared” academically.

When asked to compare the preparedness of children entering kindergarten today to children entering kindergarten 5 years ago, 34.2% of kindergarten teachers who have been teaching for 15 or more years stated that children entering kindergarten today are “not as well prepared,” and only 24.6% of these veteran teachers stated that children are “better prepared.”

According to the teachers who were surveyed, children entering kindergarten are weakest academically (in comparison to what the teachers believe children should know) in their knowledge of the alphabet and phonics, with two-thirds of teachers reporting that the majority of children do not know their alphabet when they enter kindergarten.

Ability All
Only Some
None of the
Knowing the sounds represented by most or all alphabet letters 2.8% 14.9% 72.5% 9.8%
Able to identify the individual sounds in an oral word 2.0% 15.9% 72.7% 9.4%
Knowing the names of most or all alphabet letters 5.6% 28.0% 64.6% 1.9%
Knowing the sounds represented by some alphabet letters 3.8% 30.1% 62.2% 4.0%
Knowing that the words in a book are read left to right, top to bottom 3.8% 33.1% 59.2% 4.0%
The ability to recite the complete alphabet 5.8% 46.2% 47.4% 0.6%
Able to count a collection of 10 or less objects 8.4% 49.0% 41.6% 1.0%
Knowing the names of some alphabet letters 9.8% 50.2% 39.8% 0.2%
Have an age-appropriate vocabulary 3.2% 61.2% 35.5% 0.2%
Able to recite numbers in order to 10 13.2% 56.6% 30.1% 0.2%

Though many early learning researchers cite the crucial importance of a child’s oral language development in relation to future academic success in reading and other subjects, less than 9 percent of responding teachers described the oral language skills of entering students as “very good.” Twenty-nine point seven six percent (29.8%) rated entering students’ oral skills as “fair” and 5.6% rated their oral skills as “poor.”

Many early childhood education experts advocate for preschool and pre-k programs that better prepare children for kindergarten. Of the kindergarten teachers who participated in this survey, 95 percent agreed that preschool/pre-k attendance is, in fact, “beneficial” with most respondents (75%) believing preschool and pre-k programs are “very beneficial.”

Teachers were also asked about the value of technology in preparing children for kindergarten. Seventy-seven percent (77 percent) of respondents view technology as “very useful” or “useful” in this respect. Specific benefits of technology cited most often were engagement, helping children learn the ABC’s, educational games, number recognition, and interactive learning.

Demographics and Sample Composition