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Kindergarten Readiness - Social and Emotional Development

Ask the Experts by Lori Warner, PhD 

Q:  My daughter has a late birthday so she will still be four when kindergarten starts.  However, she is advanced in her reading skills and I don't think another year of preschool is needed. How do I decide if she is ready for kindergarten? 

A:  This is always an individual decision parents need to make, but enlist the help of others to make your choice.  Talk to her preschool teacher and to the kindergarten teacher to find out if your daughter is socially and emotionally ready for kindergarten. 

Some children will be young like her, whereas others may have completed an extra year of preschool and will be a full year older.  Academic skills are not the only criteria for deciding if kindergarten is the appropriate choice. 

Q:  What are some of the key social and emotional skills needed in kindergarten?   

A:  Every kindergarten class is different, but all represent the child's first foray into elementary school, and this is a true milestone! 

Kindergarten is a time when children increasingly learn that they are part of a larger community. They learn more about the world around them and how their family, home, school, and familiar places like the park, library, and grocery store fit into larger organizations and institutions.

Kindergarteners begin learning how to better identify and express their feelings, and develop stronger empathy and understanding of others.  Socializing with new classmates, learning to share and play cooperatively, and learning to assert oneself while understanding the importance of rules and authority are all key skills. Children also broaden their interests and spark their creativity and excitement of discovery during this timeframe.   

Q:  What can I expect my child to learn in terms of social and emotional growth during kindergarten? 

A:  Here are some helpful benchmarks from the Colorado State Library: ( 

Most kindergarteners can:

  • follow a classroom routine
  • play cooperatively with others
  • label and express feelings and emotions
  • try new activities willingly
  • stand up for themselves but know that bullying and violence are wrong
  • wait fairly patiently for a turn or to speak
  • take care of personal needs such as toileting, handwashing, and clothing
  • pay attention to a story or activity for 10 minutes  

The HOPE Center houses Beaumont's autism treatment programs and is part of the Center for Human Development.  At the HOPE Center families receive intensive behavioral therapy for preschoolers with autism in two center-based programs.  We also offer behavioral consultation services for children of all ages with a variety of referral questions from autism and other developmental disabilities to behavior management, OCD, toileting, and feeding problems. 

Dr. Lori Warner is a Licensed Psychologist and Director of the HOPE Center, Center for Human Development  at William Beaumont Hospital in Berkley.  She can be reached at (248) 691-4774.Visit their Web site @ 

The Center for Human Development is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals. Dr. Warner serves on the Advisory Council of The Family Center.   


'Making a Successful Transition into Kindergarten' presented by The Family Center 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012, starts promptly at 6:30pm 
Panel presentation followed by Q&A session Barnes Early Childhood Center, 20090 Morningside Dr., Grosse Pointe Woods 

Fee $5 per family

This annual winter school transition program will feature a panel of experts - followed by an open Q & A panel discussion. Dr. Warner will be one the panelists for this special Ask the Experts presentation that will be offered to help preschoolers prepare for kindergarten.  

Register online at or contact The Family Center, 313.432.3832.  

Over a Decade of Commitment to Community Families Since 2000
The Family Center serves as the community's hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. The Family Center is a non-profit organization founded to promote a deeper understanding of the role of parents and others in supporting our youth to become competent, caring and responsible community members.

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20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.