Prepare your child for Preschool, PreK, and Kindergarten. 


Academic Achievers is a program designed by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Certified Early Education Teacher derived from the concepts and principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and the Common Core. We work with children approximately 3-6 years old that may not be ready to attend a traditional Daycare, Preschool, or Kindergarten classroom.

Photo by Rawpixel Ltd/iStock / Getty Images

Preparing Children for Preschool & Kindergarten 

Entering Preschool and Kindergarten is an important step in your child’s life as they begin their academic journey. The adults in a child’s life - their caregivers, their teachers, and their health providers - are responsible for working together to ensure each child is prepared to explore academic advancement. But how exactly do we measure achievement for children at this age? How do we know when a child needs additional attending?

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) measures academic achievement based on Learning Standards, Benchmarks, and Performance Descriptors (Levels). Before we can move on let’s look at the difference between the three. Definitions have been provided by ISBE’s Early Learning and Development Standards (IELDS).

Learning Standards - Defines what students/children should know and be able to do. Like the state goals, many learning standards in the IELDS are aligned for all grade levels, preschool through high school.

Benchmarks - Provide teachers with specific ways that preschool children demonstrate learning standards. The benchmarks are unique to preschool children.

Performance Descriptions  -  The performance standards are classroom resources for voluntary use at the local level. They are not intended to replace the Illinois Learning Standards. Instead, they supplement them by providing sufficient detail and examples to enable teachers to establish appropriate grade-level performance expectations for students. The performance descriptors are a direct outgrowth of the state goals for learning and provide additional detail at each grade level.

It is extremely important to note that not all children are going to fall into the categories or examples listed below. Children develop at their own paces and illustrate development in different ways. That is why it is so important for schools, parents, and providers to work together to ensure each child is given the opportunity to advance given their own specific qualities and interests.

Here is what Autism Family Center is doing to help prepare children from preschool and kindergarten.

Areas of Kindergarten Development Standards and Benchmarks

Kindergarten Development Standards fall into the following Learning Areas: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Physical Development & Health, Fine Arts, Foreign Language, and Social/Emotional Development with over 50 benchmarks in each Learning Area. We’re going to review about three benchmarks from learning area category below. We will also list example performance descriptors provided by Illinois State Board of Education. There is a full description of the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards here if you are interested in reading it in its entirety. Below are a few highlights.


Language Arts

  • A few benchmarks: 
    • Retell information from a story.
    • Respond to simple questions about reading.
    • Compare/contrast a variety of literary works.
  • Example Performance Descriptors: 
    • Dramatize, retell, or dictate what has been learned.
    • Respond appropriately to questions about the text.
    • Compare and contrast a variety of literary works (e.g., fiction and non-fiction stories, poetry, and nursery rhymes).



  • A few benchmarks: 
    • Use estimation skills in solving everyday measurement problems.
    • Use common instruments for measuring during work or play.
    • Show increasing skill in using available tools for exploring and extending mathematical competence.
  • Example Performance Descriptors: 
    • Make reasonable estimates of the amount a container will hold.
    • Estimate length using non-standard units of measurement. 
    • Select appropriate tools for measuring. 



  • A few benchmarks: 
    • Seek information through observation, exploration, and investigations.
    • Become familiar with the use of devices incorporating technology.
  • Example Performance Descriptors: 
    • Take apart a flashlight to see what is inside.
    • Investigate phenomena observed, such as plants growing, the effect of pollination or change in the seasons.
    • Collect information using a variety of tools.
    • Use technology to problem solve.


Social Science

  • A few benchmarks: 
    • Identify similarities and differences in people’s characteristics, habits and living patterns.
    • Understand that each of us belong to a family and recognize that families vary
    • Explore differences between urban and rural.
  • Example Performance Descriptors: 
    • Explore physical similarities and differences (e.g., everyone has hair but hair comes in different colors, textures and lengths).
    • Look at classmates’ family photos and discuss the variety of family structures.
    • Compare a rural and urban community after reading a story about one or the other.


Physical Development

  • A few benchmarks: 
    • Engage in active play using fine and gross motor skills.
    • Move with balance and control.
    • Coordinate movements to perform complex tasks.
  • Example Performance Descriptors: 
    • Cut fabric into shapes for collage.
    • Use paint and brush to form letters or symbols or repeating patterns.
    • Understand the differences between personal space and general space.
    • Build complex structures with hollow and unit blocks (e.g., tall buildings, bridges, or fire station).


Fine Arts

  • A few benchmarks: 
    • Dance: Participate in dance and creative movement activities.
    • Drama: Participate in drama activities.
    • Music: Participate in music activities by identifying a variety of sounds and sound sources (e.g., instrumental, voices, and environmental sounds).
    • Visual Arts: Participate in the visual arts. Identify media and tools used in painting, drawing, and constructing.
    • Use a variety of materials to explore and express ideas
    • Create or perform story elements and characterizations
  • Example Performance Descriptors: 
    • Construct a sculpture from wood pieces, fabric and foil.
    • Sing songs from different cultures.
    • Make up a skit based on a known or imaginary story.


Foreign Language

  • A few benchmarks: 
    • Maintain the native language for use in a variety of purposes.
    • Investigate customs of other children in the classroom.
  • Example Performance Descriptors: 
    • Sing a song in their native language during music time and then sing part of it in English.
    • Share native customs using books, toys, and activities.


Social and Emotional Development

  • A few benchmarks: 
    • Recognize emotions and how they are linked to behavior.
    • Demonstrate control of impulsive behavior.
    • Analyze why one achieved or did not achieve a goal
  • Example Performance Descriptors: 
    • Name emotions (e.g., happy, surprised, sad, angry, proud, and afraid).
    • Develop and discuss classroom rules.
    • Recognize one’s own abilities and accomplishments


Learn more about Autism Family Center's program to prepare children for Preschool, PreK, and Kindergarten.