Ready for Kindergarten: Social-emotional milestones

4 ways to tell if your child is socially & emotionally ready for the next step.

Learning Stages

By Clement Chau, Ph.D.

LeapFrog Learning Expert

As the children and media expert on the Learning Team, Clement primarily works on toys and digital products related to social studies, creativity, life skills and early childhood development. Before joining LeapFrog, he was an early education consultant, a media literacy researcher at the MIT Comparative Media Studies department, a researcher at Children’s Hospital Boston, and a researcher and lecturer at the Tufts University Developmental Technologies Research Group. Clement received his PhD from Tufts University's Eliot Pearson Department of Child Development and completed his dissertation on evaluating children's mobile apps.

Kindergarten is a resting and regrouping point after a long uphill climb in development. In kindergarten, the information gathered during previous years is integrated and children are focused on mastery. Many kids seem cool and calm compared to just a year prior.

To understand whether your child is socially and emotionally ready for kindergarten, assess how your child compares to the following statements in 4 key areas.


  • I can dress myself and put on my own shoes.
  • I take responsibility for my own belongings (lunch, coat, etc.).
  • I can follow a routine for brushing my teeth, eating meals and going to bed.

Making friends

  • I use words appropriately to solve problems.
  • I can share and be polite when playing with other children.
  • I know what it feels like to have my feelings hurt and I usually don’t want to hurt the feelings of others.


  • I don’t give up easily, even when a task is challenging.
  • I can usually finish my projects.
  • I can ignore many distractions, for a short period of time, if my mind is set on a task.

Asking for help & following rules

  • I can follow multi-step instructions and ask for help when needed.
  • I know that there are rules at home and rules at school.
  • I ask permission before I do something I want to do.