Real readiness: Social-emotional development and success in school

Social and emotional skills –not academic skills– are most predictive of success in kindergarten.

When a 5-year-old enters kindergarten, she’ll be best positioned for success if she can sit and listen to the teacher, get along with other students, keep her emotions in check and feel confident that she can handle whatever comes her way. Here are some ways you can make sure your child is socially and emotionally ready to handle kindergarten.

Let’s get excited!

Help your child get enthusiastic about kindergarten and confident that she’ll be able to succeed there. If you’re excited, it will be hard for your child not to be.

  • Play pretend games where your child is the student and you’re the teacher
  • Visit the school with your child before the first day
  • Listen to your child’s thoughts, fears and ideas about kindergarten
  • Read books about kindergarten

Practice makes perfect.

Working on some of the important skills your child will need in kindergarten can help him feel more confident about success.

  • Teach your child to follow directions by giving simple steps.
  • Give your child the opportunity to practice waiting in line, taking turns, playing and sharing with other children and sitting in a circle.
  • Work on fun puzzles and games that present a bit of a challenge to your child. Talk about how challenges are fun and celebrate your child’s persistence and small victories along the way.
  • Talk to your child about the difference between feelings and actions. Repeat often that it’s OK to feel mad, sad or frustrated, but it’s not OK to hit, kick, or throw a tantrum. Give your child ideas for appropriate actions when they’re feeling mad, sad or frustrated.
  • Work with your child on using words to describe her feelings, instead of taking an inappropriate action.

Get along, little doggie.

Getting along with classmates and making friends is one of the best parts of kindergarten. By helping your child develop the skills they need to have positive relationships in kindergarten will help them feel more excited and confident.

  • Show your child ways to approach others and make new friends.
  • Talk about how your child can be friends with children who may look or speak differently.
  • Teach your child what to do when someone hurts his feelings.
  • Discuss what it is to be a good friend – sharing, caring, and being gentle.
  • Let your child talk about things they’re interested in, and teach them how to listen when others talk about what they’re interested in.
  • Teach your child to know when it’s his turn to speak, and when it’s time to listen

Want to know more about Kindergarten readiness in Nebraska? Download the eBook.


Nebraska Children's mission is to maximize the potential of Nebraska’s children, youth, and families through collaboration and community-centered impact.

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Posted in Early Childhood
One comment on “Real readiness: Social-emotional development and success in school
  1. Just wanted to let you know that I’ve been reading for a while. Thanks for another great post. Well, It’s a big opportunity for all High School Students to explore new ideas by attending the Model G20 Summit by Knovva Academy.

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