Is My Daughter Emotionally Ready for Kindergarten?

Learn when you should decide if your child is ready for kindergarten.
I have a four-year-old daughter who will be five next year, in time for kindergarten. However, my daughter constantly whines and wants to be with Mommy all of the time. She attends daycare while I work, but it does not seem to lessen her anxiety about being apart from me. Do you think she will be emotionally ready for kindergarten next year?
When children constantly complain about being separated from their mothers, it may not just be immaturity but unhappiness with a daycare center or preschool. Is the program at the present center appropriate for your child? It should be child-centered and encourage play. And the staff should be warm and friendly and sensitive to the needs of individual children. It is possible that a different daycare center would be better for your child.

You are right to be concerned about the emotional readiness of your daughter for kindergarten. It is as important a factor as her physical, intellectual, and social readiness for starting school. Here is a checklist of some behaviors the child who is emotionally ready for school will exhibit:

  • Does not cry easily.
  • Separates from parents without being upset.
  • Has strong and positive sense of self.
  • Is not easily frustrated.
  • Acts confident in new situations.
  • Does not require constant support from parents or caregivers.
  • Displays even temper.
  • Has initiative to try new things.
  • Makes decisions.
  • Postpones gratification.
  • Begins to exercise self-control.
  • Understands the idea of acceptable behavior.
Don't decide right now whether or not your daughter is emotionally ready for kindergarten. Young children change very rapidly. The child who is emotionally immature today can easily be handling her emotions in just a few months. Use the checklist again in several months to see what additional skills your daughter has gained. And remember to base your decision on her readiness to enter kindergarten on more than her emotional readiness. Your daughter's age as well as her physical, intellectual, and social development must be considered.
Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

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