Kindergarten Writing Standards
Writing standards for kindergarten define the knowledge and skills needed for writing proficiency at this grade level. By understanding kindergarten writing standards, parents can be more effective in helping their children meet literacy goals.
What is Kindergarten Writing?
Kindergarteners are actively engaged in all aspects of language arts as they develop their oral language skills and begin to read and write. In kindergarten, children learn to recognize the letters of the alphabet and understand the sounds letters make. Kindergarteners become aware that letters can be arranged into words, that words have spaces between them, and that print is read from left-to-right and from top-to-bottom. Students in kindergarten learn to hold a crayon and pencil correctly and print the letters of the alphabet in upper- and lowercase forms. Teachers lead discussions on the meanings of words and encourage students to express themselves in complete thoughts. In kindergarten, students listen to a wide variety of children’s literature, respond to questions, and retell stories. Students learn to read some words by sight such as “the,” and write consonant-vowel-consonant words such as “cat.” While children develop at different rates, by the end of kindergarten, most children should be able to use their knowledge of sounds and letters to write simple sentences and write their own names. Students may also create stories with pictures and words, revise their writing with assistance, and then publish or share it with assistance.
The following writing standards represent what states* typically specify as kindergarten benchmarks in writing proficiency:
Kindergarten: The Writing Process
In kindergarten, students are introduced to the writing process through shared writing activities, in which the teacher writes a story and students contribute to it orally. The writing process is also taught through interactive writing activities, in which students and the teacher compose text together. In kindergarten, students are taught to use each phase of the writing process as follows:
- Prewriting: Students generate ideas for writing through class discussion and by drawing pictures about their ideas for self-selected and assigned topics.
- Drafting: Students participate in drafting writing by drawing, telling, or writing about a familiar experience, topic or story, and by creating a group draft, scripted by the teacher.
- Revising: Students participate in revising the draft for clarity and effectiveness, by adding additional details to the draft and checking for logical thinking with prompting from the teacher.
- Editing: Students participate in correcting the draft for standard language conventions according to their level of development.
- Publishing: Students participate in producing, illustrating, and sharing a finished piece of writing.
Use of technology: Kindergarten students may use available technology to compose text.
Kindergarten: Writing Purposes
Kindergartners are introduced to different types of writing in a variety of ways. Teachers read aloud from children’s literature and discuss each author’s purpose with the class. Students also learn the different reasons for writing through simple writing activities. Lessons usually center on a shared writing activity, with the teacher acting as a scribe. As students learn, they progress from drawing pictures and writing individual letters to writing short sentences that tell a story or describe their experiences. Specifically, writing standards stipulate that kindergarten students will:
- Participate in writing simple stories, poems, rhymes, or song lyrics.
- Dictate messages for others to write, such as a thank-you note.
- Write labels, notes, and captions for illustrations, possessions, and charts for classroom activities, such as a science project.
- Write to record ideas and reflections, such as keeping a personal journal.
- Create narratives by drawing and/or using emergent writing.
- Draw simple map of the classroom.
Kindergarten: Writing Evaluation
In kindergarten, students focus on recognizing various types of text, such as stories, poems, lists, signs, and information books. Kindergarteners are taught simple story structure and learn to distinguish fiction from nonfiction, including fact and fantasy.
Kindergarten: Written English Language Conventions
Students in kindergarten are taught Standard English conventions appropriate to this grade level. In particular, kindergarten writing standards specify these key markers of proficiency:
Words and Sentences
—Recognize and use complete, coherent sentences when speaking.
—Understand relationship between sounds and letters.
—Recognize sight words such as “the” and read simple sentences.
—Use letters and phonetically spelled words to write about experiences, stories, people, objects, or events.
—Write words and brief sentences that are legible.
—Write his/her own first and last name and other important words.
—Use end punctuation, including periods, question marks, and exclamation points.
—Capitalize letters to begin “important words.”
—Spell simple words independently by using pre-phonetic knowledge, sounds of the alphabet, and knowledge of letter names.
—Write consonant-vowel-consonant words (“cat”).
—Print uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet and recognize the difference between the two.
—Write from left to right and top to bottom of page.
—Recognize spacing between letters and words.
—Understand the concept of writing and identifying numerals.
Kindergarten: Research and Inquiry
Kindergarten students learn to gather information and use writing as a tool for inquiry and research in the following ways:
- Record or dictate questions for investigating, such as “What do bugs eat?”
- Record or dictate his/her own knowledge of a topic in various ways such as by drawing pictures, making lists, and showing connections among ideas.
- Use pictures, print, and people to gather information and answer questions.
- Draw conclusions from information gathered.
- Locate important areas of the library/media center.
Kindergarten Writing Tests
While standardized writing tests aren’t usually given until at least third grade, some schools begin testing in kindergarten. These assessments are classroom-based and developmentally appropriate, such as Dibels (pronounced “dibbles”), an early-literacy measurement used in many schools. Other schools use early reading curriculums that feature regular assessments to measure progress in all language arts areas. These standards-based tests help teachers determine where each student needs help and are used to tailor instruction to the individual child. Kindergarten teachers also observe children as they do various tasks. Because kindergarteners have no track record, teachers often do observational assessments early in the year, as well as on an ongoing basis, to gauge what each child can do and plan lessons appropriately. These types of informal assessments are done one-on-one or in a group. Of course, your own observations are also valid and should be shared with your child’s teacher.
Test Preparation? Simply Encourage Literacy at Home
Kindergarten students do not need to “prepare” for assessments. Instead, you’ll be helping their literacy development tremendously if you simply read and talk with your children. Start conversations, write a grocery list together, and select books together at the library. Raise their awareness of language in their environment, such as on billboards, traffic signs, and menus in restaurants. Don’t forget, children also need ample time to play for their overall well-being. Play enhances cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.
Time4Learning Supports Kindergarten Learning
Time4Learning is an excellent complement to any kindergarten program, as well as an outstanding home curriculum. Learn more about Time4Learning online programs for kindergarten.
For more information about general learning objectives for kindergarten students including math and language arts, please visit Time4Learning.com.
*K-12 writing standards are defined by each state. Time4Learning and Time4Writing rely on a representative sampling of state writing standards, notably from Florida, Texas, and California, as well as on the standards published by nationally recognized education organizations, such as the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association.