When to Start Preschool?

What age do you start children in preschool?

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Original poster:

“Look for wisdom on starting/not starting a 2 year old in preschool with a fall birthday. My daughter will be 2 in October 2017, so I know she won't be eligible for a lot of schools - some say no altogether, some say just can't attend until they turn 2.  Right now she is home with a nanny that we love. Any sort of advice is welcome, as this is a topic happening in my birth group right now (Fall 2015 Babies) so it would be great to hear from stay-at-home parents, working parents, parents using daycare, parents with nannies, etc.”




Almost two can work for the 2s program:

“My daughter started nursery school at in Sept 2012, a couple weeks before she turned 2.  Her friend also started there at the same time, and her 2nd birthday wasn't until the end of Oct.  Both girls thrived.”

“Our younger daughter has a late September birthday and was in a 2s program 3 days a week from 9-11:30. It was PERFECT and really was significant and wonderful in terms of her social development. I would definitely find a playgroup or some kind of structured group if possible. (our school needs the kids to turn 2 by the end of September.) I think it has just been so amazingly beneficial for her. Let me know if you have any questions. But a structured arrangement with some teacher figure and the same kids a few times a week is great for this age.”

“[Some facilities] has a extra young group [...]  My daughter just turned two yesterday and she started there in the fall.  A bunch of the kids are not two yet. She LOVES it.  She is chatty, learning songs, making art, and learning a lot there.  Their room is not the greatest (my son went to Beansprouts and was in a beautiful brownstone) it's in the church basement but the kids are all super happy.  There was one little girl who had a rough transition but most of them actually got into it right away.  They also have a special yard for them that is sort of like an outdoor natural classroom.  Of course it's not cheap but the aftercare and early drop are good options and I don't have to worry about a sick  or late babysitter keeping me from going to work! The consistency is great.



“I think it depends on the child, the school, the length of day, and number of days you plan on your child attending. My daughter turned 2 at the very end of August. Last week [mid to late November], she started a three hour program two days a week. She loves it, but there is some separation anxiety and she is exhausted when I pick her up. Honestly, I don't think she could make it through an 8 hr day without major behavior repercussions at home. I would be hesitant to do three days at two years old, but I think it could work. 4 or 5 days seem like it would be too much for her. If you do choose to send your child to a full day school, check to see if they offer naps. Even if yours doesn't nap now, she will need it when exposed to that much activity."

“Anyway, my son didn't start until he was three but I regretted that. After they are two they need a lot more education and entertainment (art classes, music classes, playdates etc.) and a really great sitter/nanny can do that but my experience was that most preschool teachers are far better educators than most baby sitters.  My feeling is also that because they will be young in their year (I will send my daughter to public school starting pre-k) that the extra year of socialization etc in the school setting is also worth it.”


Three and a half to four years old:

“I work full time and have two boys, 3 and 5 both with summer birthdays.  We sent my older son to preschool at 2 (2 mornings a week) while my younger was an infant and he hated every minute of it and cried every morning at drop off. It was heartbreaking. At 3, (2 full days) he was a different person and loved school. So, we kept my younger son home until 3 and it was the best decision.  He is the happiest kid at school and I think he really benefited from being home that extra year with our loving nanny.  My younger son took incredible classes (tot arts at CBE - best class we've done hands down), tinkergarden, and citystomp music.  Looking back on it I wish I had listened to the educators at the schools who don't have 2s programs who told me that 2 year olds are just too young to separate.”

“In my experience, with my first child I started him in preschool at 2.7 years old. It was literally a disaster. He could not get the fact that there was not a one on one primary caregiver for him... and looking back, and reading a lot, it's that ability to move away and come back to a primary care giver at will that creates secure attachment at that age. I took him out of school in Dec, and started him the next year again, 3.7 years old, it was a completely different experience. He was ready. Fast forward to my second child, she is 3.5 years old and I just started her in preschool, she has also done very well. In my opinion, children's biggest fear is being abandoned... under approximately 3.5 is too early to expect a child to negotiate the anxiety of the teacher child relationship. At about 3.5 most kids gain another level of awareness and enough interest in interactive play that they can handle it.”


Not quite there or ready yet? Consider organizing play groups with your PSP Baby Group:

“If you love your nanny, you may want to consider starting a nanny playgroup with other Fall '15 members that meets multiple times a week at various houses/apartments. You surprisingly don't need much space or many toys (I put out 8 max for 6 kids) and it provides a social outlet for both your child and nanny. With a playgroup illnesses are accounted for, so you don't have to worry about taking off when your kid gets sick (which will happen continually once they are in school). I've been hosting a playgroup for other Aug '14 babies since she was 5 months old and it has been an incredible experience. We have both benefited from the friendships we have made.”


Related reading on PSP:

PSP Member Reviews of Daycare, Preschool, and Pre-K facilities

The difference between Daycare, Preschool, and Pre-K