I think your fear—that enrolling her in preschool might be worse than waiting until kindergarten—shows a lot of understanding of separation fears and of your daughter. You didn’t mention whether you are employed outside the home and thus need child care. If not, I would not enroll her in a preschool this year. In another year, she might be entirely ready to separate for a few hours each day.
You mentioned play groups, and that is exactly what I would recommend for her (see my article “Play Groups—An Alternative to Preschool or Child Care—on this Fisher-Price® web site). There, she will have an opportunity to socialize with a few other children at a time, and the chances are she can handle small groups better than the numbers likely to be encountered in a preschool. Try not to ridicule or scold her if she cries when you leave her. And always, when you do leave her, give her some way of knowing when you’ll be back (“Mommy will be back when the short hand on the clock is right here and the long hand is here”), and make a special effort to be right on time. And, as a final bit of reassurance: enjoy it while you can. All too soon they seem to release us and attach to someone else!
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