Kindergarten Readiness - Social and Emotional Development

Ask the Experts by Lori Warner, PhD

Q: I'm worried that my child won't be ready for kindergarten; she has hardly been away from me in her whole life! What can I do to help her get ready?

A: Discuss her upcoming school with excitement and enthusiasm, but be honest that sometimes it can be challenging to start new adventures, and it's okay if she is a little nervous. 

Make sure she has a visit to the new school and learns about the routines she'll follow.  You can also do some "trial runs" of separating - get her used to spending time with a sitter or family member while you run a short errand.

You may need to start with a "mother's helper" model where the caregiver comes to help out while you are still home, but you take time to do things in other rooms so she gets used to separating. (see  for more ideas!)

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 time frame.

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 or on Facebook under "Beaumont HOPE Center".  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.


KINDERGARTEN II: 'Making a Successful Transition into Kindergarten' presented by The Family Center February 7, 2013, 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 make a successful transition into kindergarten. Register online at or contact The Family Center, 313.432.3832.

Enriched Communities Through Strong Families
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.

All gifts are tax-deductible.
To volunteer or contribute, visit, call (313) 432.3832.
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or write to: The Family Center
20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.

Enriching Our Community Through Stronger Families
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 with a mission to serve our community through programs and resources vital to today's families.

All gifts are tax-deductible.
To volunteer or contribute, visit the 'Get Involved' page, call 313-447-1374.
Email: or write to: The Family Center
32 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236.