What Age to Start Pre-school
Berkeley Parents Network >
School & Preschool >
Preschools > What Age to Start Pre-school
I have a 2-part question about pre-school. I see that many people
send their children to pre-school at age 2. This seems very young
to us, and we're interested in hearing parents' thoughts on why
this is a good idea or not. Is pre-school preferable to a
nanny-share or daycare? How many days/hours per week is the norm
for children this young?
Looking in the BPN archives, the information on pre-schools for
2-year olds is pretty limited and dated. We live in Glenview and
would be interested in highly recommended programs in Montclair,
Piedmont, and other nearby neighborhoods. Any recommendations?
I started my now 4 year old daughter in preschool when she was
2. It was a relatively easy transition for us because she had
already been doing a nanny share 3 times per week. She began at
Little Seeds preschool in Alameda full time (M-F, 9-5) and while
she cried the first week or so, apparently, shortly after we
left, she quieted down and was happy. She was one of many kids
her age (at 2) who were going to school full-time, so we felt
better about our decision. Also, the school we chose has a very
good teacher/student ratio, is immaculate and is academic and
play based. I work with the website, The Savvy Source,
(www.savvysource.com) which is a free, online resource for
parents and their toddlers. Parents review their preschools and
the information about preschools in your area is on the website,
I think it really depends on the child. My daughter is very
social, outgoing and adventurous, and her small, nurturing
family daycare just wasn't a good fit. At about age 16 months
she really starting acting out at the daycare and inciting
mischief among the other toddlers. Through the Yellow Pages, I
found a wonderful Montessori program for her that she began at
20 months and stayed until kindergarten. Alas, the school has
We were also concerned about sending our 2 year old off to
pre-school. It seemed too early, but we were wrong. Our child
absolutely thrived. The pre-school our children go to is The
Renaissance School. It's a warm and loving environment with lots
of interesting activities. The 2 year old room has 12 children
and 2 teachers. The school is located right at the bottom of
Dimond Park, in Oakland. It's a Montessori school and the hours
for the 2 year olds are Mon - Fri, 9am - 12:30pm. I also thought
that everyday would be too much, but again, I was wrong. The
children really look forward to going to school every day.
Sometimes I think these seemingly big transitions, like into
pre-school, are actually harder for parents than the children!
You can have extended hours too if that's needed. Check out their
2 sounds very early for preschool for us too. We won't send our
child this fall at 2.5 but really don't think it would have
negative effects if we did. I bet she'd love it (a few mornings a
week) I'm just not convinced the benefits outweigh the cost (of
tuition & logistics) for us. In conversation with my mom she
pointed out that nursery school for me as a child was my only
opportunity to get out, sing songs, etc. Now, if you are taking
your child to studio grow, parks, y, library, etc. they are
getting some of that. I do feel conflicted by having differing
viewpoints from the majority. I'm convinced that early preschool
is really more a childcare solution than a necessity to child
development. The idea of preschool feels more comfortable to
parents; it sounds so much less like daycare and so much more
like an enriching opportunity. Or gives stay at home moms a much
needed breather (often with a new baby.) All completely
understandable if you need or want childcare. For me, I would
need to know that they are getting something pretty awesome at
the preschool I chose, something I may not be able to provide
(like Spanish) if I were to justify the cost - or if I needed to
work those mornings. Otherwise I'm happy to spring for a $12
class here and there and skip packing lunches for another year.
I have no idea about preschool: when itís too early to start, when
kids Ďshouldí start, if kids really need it at all. Iím
hoping you, the good parents of BPN, can shed some light on this topic
for me. I am a stay-at-home mom of an 18-month-old boy. Because of my
at-home situation, preschool/daycare is not a practical necessity at
this point; however, I am beginning to wonder about the
benefits. Iím mainly concerned about my sonís lack of social
interaction with kids his own age, as well as with adult authority
figures that arenít Mom or Dad. In addition to our regular outings
to kid-filled places like the zoo and park, he has one little friend
that we see about once a week, and he was enrolled in Gymboree for a
while Ė heís never uncomfortable or troubled in these
situations, so itís not that Iím worried thereís an existing
issue, but I wonder at what age kids really need exposure to other
kids and new environments outside of the home/family. All of this has
led me to think about starting preschool/daycare around his 2nd
birthday, possibly for 2 half days a week (and Iím assuming that
Iíd have to get on a waiting list pretty soon in order to start in
the Fall). Iíd love to hear any advice you have to offer on the
topic. Oh, and a couple of other factors to throw into the mix: my son
is a November birthday, so we are planning to start him in
Kindergarten late rather than early (donít know if this has any
bearing on the current situation ); and we will be having our second
child within 2 days of my sonís 2nd birthday (go figure). While I
kind of like the idea of my son being at daycare/preschool 2 half days
a week just to give me a breather when the babyís born, I really
donít want him to feel like heís being kicked out of the house
and thrown into a new situation because of his new sibling. Again, any
advice is appreciated!
First of all, "Preschool" usually means a preschool for 3 and 4 year
olds that starts a new "class" every fall. These preschools do not
accept children who are younger than 3 (or about to turn 3.) The idea is
that children attend a preschool for one or two years just prior to
starting kindergarten. Preschools typically accept applications in the spring for
kids who will start preschool in the fall.
When people talk about
"preschool" for a two-year-old, they are usually talking about a smaller
operation that is run out of someone's home. Not always, but usually.
It may be called a preschool, or it may not be.
Since you are having a baby, I think it would be a great idea to
find a small homebased preschool for your 2-year-old. In my
experience as a mom of 3, children don;t really begin to play
together until they are closer to three. But giving a 2-year-old
the chance to be around other children on a regular basis can be
good. It's also good for the mom. So I say, go for it!
As you've guessed, the ''right'' time to start preschool varies
from child to child. Like you, I'm a SAHM, so we had some
flexibility. We decided to start our son a few months after his
3rd birthday, and in addition to helping socialize him (our main
goal), it had one benefit that we hadn't considered: all his
friends/peers started preschool at 3, too, so if he wasn't in
school it would be hard to find playdates, and weekday music,
sports, etc. classes often have few kids his age these days. My
second son is already totally into the preschool thing because
of his big brother, and will start at age 2 next fall. So go
with what feels right to you. Depending on the school you're
looking at, you may have to wait a bit, anyway, since lots of
things for next fall are filling up already -- I started
interviewing and applying a year before he started school. And
about the new baby coming: because my second was born in
September my older son was starting school right around the
birth and did feel a little overwhelmed with changes at home and
the switch from nanny to school, but it only took him a week or
two to settle in. Not the ideal way to do it, but they're
adaptable. And definitely nice to have some time with just the
Go with your heart
First off - you're probably too late to get into any preschools
THIS coming Fall. At least not necessarily your first choice.
Most preschools accept applications at the beginning of the year
and make their decisions by spring. They know how roughly how
many openings they have due to the number of kids who'll be
heading off to Kindergarten in the Fall, so apart from surprise
moves or personal situations, the numbers are pretty fixed.
As to the other ''when'' - my first started just after he turned 3,
a few weeks after his sibling was born, and it worked out great.
He felt he had his new ''own thing'' apart from the baby.
Number two started just after her 2nd birthday.
Start simply by visiting places, see what you like, what your son
likes. Not all places do half days. Not all places meet your
criteria. Talk to the staff, get their opinions on readiness.
And as to reasons why if you're a SAHM - do you recall the public
message campaign not long ago by the Ca. Commision for Families -
First Five? - http://www.ccfc.ca.gov/
They stress the benefits of preschool as helping children with
kindergarten readiness, which provides a stronger foundation for
all their school years.
Kindergarten used to be preschool years ago - a place to play,
learn to use scissors, nap and have snacks. Not so anymore.
Preschool helps tremendously in helping kids learn to listen, sit
still, interact, use their words, not miss mommy, etc - all the
things they no longer have the time to do in kindergarten.
I'm no expert, but if you don't have a need for preschool (i.e.
you need a break for yourself, to do work, to be with a younger
child, etc.), then I would wait until your child is at least 3
years old. We started our daughter at 2.3 and while she's
definitely grown socially and emotionally, I'm not sure that's
due to her time in preschool. I'm not convinced that any child
needs preschool, let alone three years. Plus, I feel like keeping
a two year old on a schedule (getting dressed, getting out the
door, in the car seat, out of the car seat, etc) creates a lot of
friction that wouldn't exist if our day was more flexible. She's
in preschool because I work, if I didn't, I would have skipped
the first year, and possibly waited until 4 -- arranging
playdates instead to make sure she gets time with kids her own age.
preschool is overrated
We joined a playgroup for all the reasons you described, and it's been great. It's
same kids every time, so the social skills stuff goes deeper than with the ever-
changing cast of characters at a playground, and a very minimal number of non-
negotiable rules are helping our daughter get her head around the idea of paying
attention to adults who aren't her own parents, and I've made some nice friends
of the deal, too. Ours meets in El Cerrito, in the basement of a church (we're
between a preschool and a playgroup, I guess) and it's for kids 2 years to 5, but
there are lots of other playgroups around if you aren't sure you're ready for
preschool but think you might want a little more structure/socializing than your
current routine provides.
Two days a week is nothing. he'll probably love the interaction.
He won't feel like he's being kicked out, although almost any
toddler will protest initially. He'll probably be so stimulated
by it, and learn so many things, that you'll be happy you did it.
Remember, we run the range here, from people who have to put
their 3 month old in full time day care to people who don't quite
get around to preschool until they are 4. I would say that you
probably should have a 4 yr old in some form of preschool if for
no other reason than to get them up to speed with the other kids
I think most kindergarten teachers appreciate at least one year of preschool. My
oldest did three years because I wanted the morning breaks. He started off with
a couple of mornings, then the second year that increased by a day & then for the
last year, he went four. This still left one morning for us to do something
but he wasn't blown away by the five day, all day rigor of kindergarten - not to
mention that he had many pre-reading and early math concepts down AND tons of
same-age socialization as well. We're duplicating that with our 2nd.
PS I do think it might be too late to enroll him in the fall, but perhaps a
opening might become available? Also, check on the Schools newsletter - there are
openings posted there periodically.
Best of luck in your search!
Sign your child up for preschool to start in September (unless
you can fine something that starts earlier). That way, by the
time the baby is born, school is a normal part of his life and he
won't see it as being 'pushed out' quite so much. I started my
elder daughter in a preschool program at 17-months for the same
reason. My second daughter was born in March. My elder
daughter's teachers gave her with so much love and support when
my younger was born.
I started my younger child at a preschool at 18-months, because
quite frankly I need to drink a cup of coffee (and go to the
bathroom for that matter) without someone sitting on my lap every
now and again.
Honestly, in a perfect world, I would come up with the most
stimulating activities for my children all day long (they are two
and four) and love every minute of it while receiving five years
maternity pay for each child. But, since I don't have the
patience of a saint and live in Norway, I have chosen a lovely
in-home Waldorf school for one child two days a week and a
somewhat academic based for my second child two days a week. I
clean my house, get my toes done and nap while my children are
away and don't feel guilty about it.
I believe that some preschool is great for kids before they enter
kindergarten. Just getting used to being in a somewhat organized
environment helps them cope with the adjustment to big-kid school.
Your son is young and all the things you're doing are perfect:
gymboree, outings, meeting with another kid once a week. I think
3 is a good age to start preschool, from my experience with my kids.
I will say, though, that if you can get him in two half days
BEFORE your baby is born, he won't feel kicked out of the house
after the baby is born. Just something to consider if you have
the option. And whatever you do, DO NOT link it to the baby. Make
it sound like a reward for being a great kid and all that.
I'm thinking about sending my daughter to preschool when she is
around 2 years old - starting a few days a week - not 5.
Right now her grandmother cares for her while I work full time.
So I haven't a clue how much to expect to pay for this -
although I just know it's a LOT!
Are there many schools that allow just 2-3 days a week? and what
costs can I expect?
Also, if any of you started your kids in preschool at age 2-3
was it worth it (the cost, did it benefit your child and in what
ways)? I just don't think my daughter will get enough
stimulation at grandma's at that age...she is very intelligent
and pretty social.
I live in the Oakland/Lakeshore/Piedmont area.
Thanks in advance!
My four year old daughter goes to preschool three mornings (9-
Noon) per week and it costs $436 per month. It is my opinion
that sending your child to pre-school before about 3.5 years
(and I have done this)benefits the parents/caregivers FAR more
than the child. The parent gets a little break and the child
is still well cared for, but I think the child's preference is
to be with their parents/grandparents. Sure they like to see
other kids at the playground, but to have your undivided
attention when they want it and to observe you as you go
through your day-to-day stuff is the ultimate pre-school for
them. They learn so much about real life that way. The
stimulation and guidance they get from being with their
parents/grandparents 24/7 is invaluable.
Our easy-going 12-month-old son has been in a nanny share care situation at
our house with 2 other kids since he was 5 months old.
He's signed up to start Montessori pre-school sometime between 18 and 20
But I want to hear what other parents and experts believe is the best time
to move from a share care into a pre-school environment.
Should we wait until he is 2 years old, or move him into Montessori at 18 -
My daughter started in a preschool @ 20 months. When she was about 16
months we went to a meeting which incidentally took place at a
pre-school. She just loved it there! So I took my cues from how engaged
my daughter was & figured the time was right. I was a bit worried about
possible trouble adapting to, for example, nap routines because she was
kind of irregular, but she didn't have any sort of problem. She was in
the routine by her second day. In many respects it seems like toddlers
are more flexible than 3 year olds. If you are happy and excited about
the program your child is going to attend, I wouldn't delay starting.
Here's one opinion: My son was and is very social and unafraid of new
people and situations, yet just as the pediatrician predicted, he had
his one bout of seperation anxiety promptly ay 18 mos. Luckily I had
followed the Dr's advice & weaned him from habits like nightime bottle
and pacifier prior to 18 mos, as I was warned that if I didn't, it
would be difficult between 18 mos and 2 1/2. I saw other parents
struggle during this time so I know it was good advice. On this note,
I think 18 mos would be very hard for a child to begin a new
situation, especially one as momentous as preschool. By 24-28 months,
my son was over the fears and willing and enthusiastic about a new
I'm thinking of sending my son, who will be 2 in August, to preschool in
Sept. The school I like has mixed classrooms with kids aged 2-4 together. I
wonder about the effect on him of being the very youngest kid in class with this
fairly wide age spread. I also wonder whether 2 might be a little young for any
preschool. Any thoughts?
I can share our experience with my 2yr 3mo old daughter here. Children are different so I
am not sure how much of our experience would be valid in your case.
In general what I have observed is that children (mine and my friends') at
this age LOVE to play with other older kids, and by doing so they learn so
much. I would imagine a group of 2-4 y-o's would be perfect for my girl.
The only concern I would have is, not every 4 y-o would like to play with
younger kids, and they might express such feeling with inappropiate behavior toward the
younger kids. So you might want to find out what the rules are for the kids with
disagreements, and how the care givers prevent the situation in which the older kids hurt
the younger ones - and most importantly, how you feel about all that. In our case I am
comfortable with their rules and handling in the daycare my girl goes to. I even feel
positive about letting children learn to get along with each other in this way.
I know that many people think very positivly about mixed aged preschools,
but 2-4, that age gap is too wide, no doubt about that, I am a preschool
teacher myself, and from all I know, the needs of a 2 year old cannot be met in such a
group..and I have to add, that the 4 year old kids also suffer when the teachers have to
deal with 2 year olds..2 year olds have to learn the basic rules of socialisation, and 4 year
olds are very advanced, they want to be attended to, ask a lot of questiones and need
stimulating activities.....then what about potty training?...
It is really unfair to stick a 2 year old in such a preschoolsetting ......or is it a
very small groups, like 4 to 6 children??? I doubt it though.
If you really want to do what is best for your child, then wait, find a home daycare with a
small group of kids, (that is usually not more expansive than a preschool), and send your
child to preschool 6 months or even a year later....and believe me, I know what I am talking
We started our daughter in a similar situation about 2 weeks after her second birthday
(three months ago). I will admit that it was a bit hard on us at first, and that we had the
same concerns as you did about her being too little for preschool, etc. One of the most
important things for us was that the school was sensitive from the very first to her
developmental needs: for instance, they do not force kids to participate in, or complete, any
activity, including circle time, if they don't want to. For a squirmy 2-year-old, that was
really important. She's learned a lot about sitting still from the older kids, though, and
now stays for the entire circle time -- and she has even become a good napper, which is a
major accomplishment! In addition, we find that she is comfortable in the noisy, energetic
environment where previously she was a bit overwhelmed by all the activity -- she really
holds her own with kids of all ages and is getting better at verbalizing her needs. Her
friends now range in age from 2 to 5 1/2, and the older kids tend to take her under their
wing and teach her things, which I think is just great.
The most important thing for us was to give it time. We stayed with our daughter in the
mornings until she felt comfortable, then enlisted teachers to help all of us separate from
each other, and we only gradually increased the amount of time that she stayed at school
alone, so that it wasn't for a full month until after she started that she was there for the
whole day (naptime was the last transition). We also found that communicating with the
teachers was very important -- even to the point of calling during the day to check in and
make sure things were okay (there was one day that the teacher suggested picking her up
early, but usually things went well even if the goodbyes had been rough).
I say all this with a bit of amazement at how hard it was in the beginning, because I taught
preschool for years, and my degree is in developmental psych with a focus on early
childhood -- so I thought I knew the ropes! But as a "survivor" I can honestly say that it
does work out if you stick with it. If you're convinced that this is the right thing to do
then you can be honest with your son about the difficulties, but still positive and
enthusiastic about the good parts, and you will all be able to succeed. For me, the best days
are when I go to pick my daughter up at the end of the day and she doesn't want to leave
(and I love the art and cooking projects and the new songs and stories that she brings
My daughter, now in first grade, started preschool in October a few months
after turning 2. She attended a small school in someone's house. At the
time, she was the youngest by almost 2 years, although other children her
age arrived over the months and years. We have photos of our little one
surrounded by big 4-year-olds. Everyone was very nice to her, she got to
play a bat in the Halloween skit because the original bat declined, and she quickly learned
to use the toilet at 2-1/2. There was only one difficult kid at the preschool when Julia
began there, and he liked her and played with her, so we never had any problems with big
kids running over the little kid. She also got to stay at the same place for almost 3 years.
Two may or may not be too young for preschool. For some children it is, and for others it's
not. For our son ee chose family day care from 2-3 years because it was smaller and more
low key. We thought our son would have an easier time adjusting. This September he'll
start in preschool when he'll be 3.25. We chose both the family day care and the pre-school
because they have mixed age groups (among other reasons). I like mixed age because
children have more opportunities to seek out others with similar interests and abilities,
since not all 2 year olds, for example, are at the same place developmentally. They also
can see where they're going by looking at the older children. They learn a lot from the
older children and the older children get to be teachers and helpers which is great for
learning. Of course the youngest don't usually do as much helping and teaching as the
olders, but they have their own areas of strength where they can shine too. It's best if a
child is going to be in the program for more than one year. Having the same teacher for two
years is great (assuming the teacher is a good fit for your child) and by being in the
program for more than a year, your child has the opportunity to be the youngest, the
middle and then the oldest. As it turns out, our son outgrew the family day care. The
space is now too small for him and all of the older children are leaving, so it won't be as
mixed next year. He'll get to be part of a mixed age group in a 2.5-6 year old preschool
instead and we hope it works out so he can stay until he goes to kindergarten or first grade.
Also as a teacher, I have found most
effective my classes that were K-1, K-2 or K-2. Even though I'm a big
proponent of mixed age classes, as always, unless the overall program is
sound and unless the teachers are skilled and loving, and unless it's a good fit for your
particular child... the program won't be any good for you. Hope this helps.
I am a stay at home mother of twin boys who will be 2 in May, making them 2
years and 3 months in September. For many preschools this is too young and
yet to wait a whole other year, until they are 3 years and 3 months, before they
begin some group play/enrichment environment seems like too long to wait. I
am torn between keeping them home full time and doing our routine of parks,
playgroups, kindergym etc. for a whole other 18 months (from now)until they
are over 3 years old, and signing them up for some form of nursery/preschool for
this fall. I am looking into a number of options from 2-3 mornings a week where
I go to a toddler program with them and stay (which leaves me no money for
anytime for myself) to a play program in a private home, to a three day a week
8:30 - 1:30 preschool program that takes 2 year olds. I have also looked into a
co-op program which interests me, but as a twin parent the workload is
prohibitive and the waitlist is long. Depending on the program, I might need to
work to afford sending the two of them. It is hard to know how I will feel 7
months from now and what they or I will be ready for.
I am looking for advice from those of you who have been through this
decision and what worked best and what did not work at all. Also,
recommendations on any programs for 2 year olds would be of interest to me.
My twin boys are a year older than yours and I know exactly how you feel. I
faced this decision about a year ago and decided to wait until they were 3 yrs 3
mos to put them in preschool this fall. It opened up a lot more
options. I was working out of my house however and had a babysitter. While I
still had no time for myself, I was able to manage it because the
babysitter watched the kids in the morning and I had them after naptime.
She cleaned the kitchen while they were sleeping and did laundry too which
helped. Let me give you one piece of advice. The time you are in with them
right now (just under two) is particularly difficult. After they turn two, things
become unbelievably easier because they play with each other. There is another
big change at 2 and a half, even easier. Although it is clearly more work than 1,
my recommendation is to see if you can get a share situation for a few afternoons
a week nearby where you can drop the kids at someone else's house with their
nanny to play. You can usually get a lower rate that way and it is cheaper than
enrolling them in preschool. Also, it gives you a few hours off. Otherwise, there
are always people advertising on the Childcare piece of this newsletter who have
a nanny who needs a couple of part time afternoons or mornings a week to
supplement income. You could have someone come in for a few hours. Or, if you
have room in your house could get an au pair to help on a more regular basis.
Your children will be well socialized if you hold off on preschool simply
through interactions at the park and at home with each other. My guys knew
the phrase "take turns" and could say it quite young. Anyway, I don't have any
concrete recommendations except that it probably isn't worth sending them to
preschool so young. You can get cheaper, more customized options (e.g., if you
want to be flexible on hours a babysitter can change week to week but a
preschool won't). Hope this helps.
If you live around Albany, I believe there is still a very nice part-time
program called Playful Two's. It is (or was) run by Diane Gross, and her
number is 527-21489.
I have a ten-month-old who is currently happy at his in-home daycare.
When he is two-ish, however, I think he might benefit from a more
structured preschool environment. I've been reading the various reviews
of preschools posted here, and wonder how much in advance people are
signing their kids up. If I need to start the application process a
year in advance, for example, I would need to start checking preschools out now.
Thanks for any insights you all may have. Wendy
I made the switch from family-care to preschool when my daughter was two
and half. KinderCare takes children from infants to kindergarten and I
am very impressed and happy with the care she and my one-year-old son
receive there. I think if I'd waited until Andrea was three she would
have been less flexible about the change. At two and a half she was
ready for the structure and the variety of activities pre-school
offered, but not as willful as she is now. An unforeseen benefit to me
has been the reliable hours of the center. In
family-care, our sitter took time off whenever she felt the need. I
didn't realize the stress this caused me until I moved my kids to
Our daughter is about to turn 21 months old and is pretty
wonderful - very affectionate, talkative, imaginative, outgoing,
adventurous, etc., etc. She was also the classic high-needs
baby who never slept (and still has plenty of sleep issues) and
seemed to go through the ''terrible twos'' long before two (and
now those symptoms have subsided). Here's the quandry: she was
cared for by us until 9 months old and then a wonderful nanny
(one on one care) from 9 months to now, Mon-Thur, 8 am to 6 pm.
She goes to the park/zoo/Gymboree/Lawrence Hall of Science/etc
everyday so gets lots of interaction with others. We have
enrolled her in a Montessori preschool to begin in September
(when she turns two) for 3 or 4 mornings (8:30-12:30) per week -
it's about 6 kids to one caretaker. Part of me thinks it will
be good for her to no longer have one on one care all of the
time and part of me thinks hey - she's still a wee one - what's
the rush? Why not wait until she's 3? I would be very, very
interested in the advice of all you experienced parents. As you
can doubtless tell, she is our first child and so the first time
we're dealing with this issue.
mama who wants to do the right thing
My son's been in a family daycare with a nice ''early preschool'' structure
(story and/or art projects, then snack, then playing outside, then lunch,
then nap, then music and/or free play and/or outside) -- run by a woman
with a degree in early childhood educaiton -- since he was 15 months
old, and has absolutely thrived there. His language skills have really
improved (talked in complete sentences before 2 -- and was a non-
talker at 15 months), he loves the other children, he loves art and
dancing and music, etc. etc. Granted he's different than your daughter in
some ways (the classic ''easy'' baby, though he does have sleep issues),
but he's also imaginative (plenty of ''tea parties'' with his stuffed
animals!), very outgoing, etc. This daycare situation has really benefited
his social skills (he loves the other kids, likes to recite all of their names,
give them kisses and hugs) and he's starting to show real empathy for
the feelings of others. So I'm absolutely convinced that high-quality
group daycare benefits young children -- in fact, my son has done better
there than he did in the nanny-share he was in from 6 to 15 months (with
an excellent nanny). If you feel that the daycare situation you've found is
high quality, it will be fine for your daughter.
There is no right or wrong answers to your question. Human
beings are very adaptable creatures. Do whatever you think is
right for you and your child. If you think she's too young, then
wait. She seems to be having a wonderful life with her nanny.
Preschool is not mandatory. If you think she would enjoy the
company of other kids and shared care, go for it. She will most
likely adjust well to the change.
I'm not sure why you think that ''it will be good for her to no
longer have one on one care all of the time'' at 2 years old?
You're right, she is still very little and I think that one-on-
one care with a nanny who takes her to Gymboree, Lawrence Hall
of Science, etc. sounds GREAT for her! My first daughter went to
preschool at 2 yrs. old and had a very difficult adjustment. My
second daughter will start preschool in the fall, at the age of
3, and I think that she will be much better able to adjust with
the change. Granted, they have different personalities and are
different children, but I do think that children do better in
preschool if they are a little older...there is such a
difference between a 2 yr. old and a 3 yr. old! They are more
social, able to share/play/interact better with other children,
etc. My daughter will be going to a Montessori school and I
recall the director saying that 3 year olds just adjust better
than the younger children (they start children there at 2 yr. 9
months - and not younger - just for this reason). If you can,
why not have her stay home with one-on-one care for another
I started my daughter in preschool 2 mornings/week just 2 weeks
after she turned two. She was the youngest one in the class,
but it was a great experience for her. I was worried she would
be clingy, so I wanted to put her in a social environment. 10
months later, she is now confident, independent, polite, and
VERY social. It was a very relaxed preschool and they
explicitly taught things like how to make friends, so it was a
great choice for her.
Just wanted to share our experience!
We started our son in school at 2.5 years. We were going to
wait until 3, but were expecting a new baby and thought the
transition would be better before the new baby than after.
Shortly after turning two he was much more interested in playing
with children his own age and older, and I found that most of
those children were not at the park anymore and were in school.
The result is that my child LOVES his school, which he attends
three mornings a week. He asks to go and see his ''friends''
which include all the kids in his class and others, and the
teachers. School is financially more reasonable than a nanny
and offers a lot more learning and socializing activities in my
opinion. Our friends also started their daughter at 2 at the
same school and she loves it too and goes every morning during
the week. Just make sure the school has a small # of kids in
their 2 year old class.
Sounds like you're doing the right thing. We started our
children in preschool at age 2 and they loved it. They enjoy
the stimulation they don't get at home. Since you're only
sending her for 3 or 4 mornings a week, she'll still have plenty
of one-on-one time with you. Plus, that way you can get some of
the more boring housework done when she's having fun in
preschool, and then when she comes home you can devote yourself
to doing things she likes.
mom of kids who loved preschool
I'm curious to see the responses to this one, as I have been
contemplating the same issure re: my 21-month-old daughter. I
have not been through it, so I may not have the advice you
want. But I wanted to let you know that when thinking about
when my daughter should start preschool I took an email poll of
about 8 of my friends with older children asking their advice.
Now, these moms worked part-time or were home full-time. So
their kids didn't HAVE to have much out-of-home care. But all
of my friends (except the 2 with 3+ kids who seemed rather
desperate to get the last one out of the house) said ''what is
the rush?''. They all said the kind of activities you described
are probably plenty for a 2-year-old. They also reminded me
that if my daughter started preschool this fall, she would have
3 years of preschool prior to kindergarten which seemed like
overkill. Many also mentioned that even at 3 and 4 their kids
got physically tired from being at school, which was another
reason not to send a 2-year-old. My intuition about my own
child matched their advice, and I will keep her home next
year. We may do a cooperative preschool 2 days a week where I
go with her each time, as I do think she will benefit from some
minimally structured activities. But I think between music
classes, art classes, Gymboree, library, park, zoo, museums,
etc. a 2-year-old can get plenty of interaction and structure
without being in preschool.
Our daughter (who had a similar social life, care
arrangement as your child) started pre-school this year at 2.
We were on a waiting list hoping to get in next year, but there
was a mid-year opening, so we felt she had to take it. She
had a hard time transitioning- it was just very stimulating for
her. She was always exhausted by the end of the morning,
and very whine-y about going. That said, she absolutely
loves her school now, she wants to go every day of the
week. I see the same thing with the other two year olds-
they're all really growing into the program now that they're
turning into 3 year olds.
It was the right thing to do for our family because we were
very much committed to this particular school ( a co-op), but
if I were to do it again in a perfect world scenario, I'd wait til
3. The 3 year olds just really get the large group scene and
the transitions from one activity to another.
If you can, I'd wait.
Clearly your instincts will guide you about what is right for
your particular child. My experience is that I have been very
glad that I have had my son, now 3 1/2 years old, in smaller
non-preschool settings. He will start a ''montessori'' preschool
He has had a combination of Nanny/Parent/and small group in-
home daycare. I give a lot of credit to his daycare provider,
Sharyn Peterson of Wee Two Todddler House for providing
wonderful loving guidance to all the kids in her care that has
enabled them all to develop their own sense of strength and
confidence, and to develop social skills that reflect kindness
I wondered about starting preschool early as well, since it is
now very common to start kids at 2 years old. But more and
more, as I have watched him grow, I am really glad he has had
this time to learn and grow in the context of his 5-6 ''buddies''
as he calls his daycare friends, without the larger pressures
that a bigger peer-group and more curriculum-based program can
This small group setting has felt like a nice interim step to
help him develop socially, physically, and intellectually.
Hello BPN friends,
My daughter is 2 and a half years olds and we are expecting our
second child. I am a full-time stay and home mom and absolutely love
it! My question is this; I hear all kinds of opinions on sending children
to pre-school. I fully understand that it is good for a child to attend
some pre-school before going to kindergarten however, I have got
mixed advice as to weather it is ok for me to wait until my oldest is 4
years old to attend pre-school. She is very bright and I am not just
saying this because I am her mom. I just feel she is a very well
adjusted kid. We have many friends with kids that she plays with every
week, she takes art classes and music classes and my husband and I
spend our time as a family 100% (except for his work week). Sorry to
ramble, but my feeling it that she is a happy, bright child and because
I am a stay at home mom and will continue to be for long time, I feel
NO rush in sending her to pre-school until she is 4. I donít believe I am
being selfish, just to me it seems natural to keep my child home with
her sibling and myself until she is 4 and then putting her into pre-
school for a year before going on to Kindergarten. I guess if I were
going back to work or just didnít thoroughly enjoy being a full-time
stay home mom then I might feel different but since I am and she is a
happy child I just wonder if waiting until she is 4 is OK? Please if YOU
personally or professionally have experience or advice in this matter, I
appreciate your honest opinion. Thanks and be well and Hug your kids
everyday as much and often as you can as they are little (BIG)
SAHM in need of advice about preschool!
What timing! As I dropped off my second son for his first year of Kindergarten
yesterday, I was OVERWHELMED with the sense that I had only had five years with
him before he is now off into the world. In the grand scheme of things, it
seem like enough. He did go to one year of preschool, so he started at about age
I say trust your instincts. I say one year of preschool is probably enough,
if she gets lots of interaction with friends and family as it is. I say once she
school, life changes drastically and you never get ''the little years'' back.
Perhaps I say too much!
We now have a 1st grader and a Kindergartner, (and two smaller ones at home...)
and I can't say I always have absolutely loved being a stay at home mom. But I'm
aware enough to know that I am definitely going to miss these days when they are
gone, and it sounds to me like you know that too. Keep her with you -- it's what
you want to do anyway, right? PLUS, you could go with the wait and see route.
to keep her home, and if something changes (like if when she turns three, like my
own three year old daughter, she all of the sudden seems to be going on 16...), or
she starts to seem like she would really benefit from the structure of preschool,
could look into openings half way through the year. That is what I am doing with
my own three year old -- I'm going to see if there are openings at our preschool
Sorry to go on...touched a ''first day of school'' nerve...good luck.
To preschool or not to preschool is a tough question to
answer. Frankly, I think that you aren't hurting your child by
keeping her out until kindergarten. She may be a little behind
the curve in school practices (learning to line up, cooperative
play, etc) and she may be exposed to glue and glitter a little
later in life (kidding), but it will level out pretty quickly.
You have to make decisions based on what is best for your own
I am a SAHM with a two year old and a newborn. I thoroughly
enjoy my career choice. Yet, I put my own child in preschool
two mornings each week. I enjoy the few hours a week that
preschool allows me to have alone with my younger child. As
you may have noticed, toddlers love to be the center of
attention and it only gets worse with a new baby around. A few
months before my second child was born, I put my older child in
pre-school a few mornings a week. I wanted it to be a place
that she was used to long before the baby was born.
That said, I don't think that putting my child into preschool
gives her a leg up getting into Harvard or Berkeley. But, my
child loves the music, plaground time, crafts and Spanish that
are offered at her preschool. We do all of these things at
home, too. For me, though, that preschool times allows me time
to totally focus on my younger child.
Also, I will put my younger one into preschool next year even
though we are not planning for baby #3 quite yet. I do think
that it is also important for me to have a little time that is
just for me. I am able to give my children so much more when I
have a little time to recharge my batteries. But that is me.
You may not need any down time just for yourself.
Keep in mind, that there are alternatives to 'the preschool
down the road' or offered through church. Many parents (not
me) put their children in cooperative preschool environments
that rotate from home to home so that they can have a higher
level of involvement with their children.
Don't worry about what other people think or say if you choose
to keep your child home. I have friends who are SAHMs that put
their children in five mornings each week and some who are
keeping their children home until kindergarten. All of us have
bright curious children. We are encouraging their development
in a way that is best for each of us and our families.
SAHM Happily preschooling in Berkeley
I have been considering this extensively in recent weeks, so
understand where you're coming from. I have a 3 yr. old DD and 8
mo. old DS.
I think the benefits of preschool depend largely on individual
families dynamics/needs. It sounds like you have a great
situation with your daughter, and because of that I would NOT
send her to preschhol until 4. Preschool is not necessary to
provide social/verbal/physical (i.e. pre ''school'') skills when a
child is getting that in their home environment. I think that
the push for preschool as a way to ''prepare'' kids for future
learning/academics is a shame. Childhood is getting shortened.
When preschool can help parents who work or dont enjoy spending
ALL their time with their kids, that's a good use of it (in
moderation), but I dont agree with the idea that kids ''need''
socialization/preparation. You may want to look into some
schools and see what kind of philosophy and schedule flexibility
they have. Things change when the second baby comes. And I have
found the early 3's to be the most challenging with DD so far,
but also a time where she has blossomed socially and in her
interest in the world. In our case it came down to this: I
wanted to preserve the ''purity'' of her childhood at home with me.
She has been raised with no TV, no junk food, and otherwise
sounds like your DD, so I was wary of her being introduced to
these things by other kids at p-school (of course I know this is
inevitable, but its a matter of how long I can keep her
innocent). On the other hand, she runs off at the park to play
with other kids of all ages, and is recently very interested in
other people, and the constant ''why?'' has started. She just
seems newly hungry for more life, where she used to be (3 mos
ago) much more introverted. Also, balancing the baby's needs
(for a 90 min nap, for example) and her need for more
action/activities is hard on her....and me. And lastly, my Dh
works A LOT and we have no local family and few contacts yet (new
move). So after MUCH deliberation, I decided to send her, at 3,
mwf mornings for a break for me and increased stimulation for her
(NOT academic preparation, as I am anti anything to do with early
intellectual preparation for young children who have that from
home. My whole family is highly educated, and from very
prestigious schools - if that matters in your decision - so I
know my kids will get exposure to that whether they want to or
not :) but they wont get their childhoods again, and one year is
a loonnngg time in childhood). In short, if you are happy home
with DD, great for both of you! But be open to things changing
as she grows over the next 6 mos. and when the baby comes. You
both sound lucky to me.
There's Always time for School
You can safely wait forever! Your child doesn't need preschool,
or kindergarten for that matter (schooling isn't compulsory until
age 6 so you don't have to send her to kindergarten if you don't
want to). Enjoy your time with your child and send her to
preschool if and when you are ready. Any benefit that preschool
might theoretically have given her is not a lasting benefit
anyway. Studies of preschool programs have found that by 2nd
grade there is no difference between kids who went to preschool
and those who didn't. And with the rich and loving environment
with plenty of opportunities to play with other children that you
are providing I would be surprised if preschool offered any
benefit at all to your child. Anyone who tells you you are being
selfish by keeping her home is crazy. I sent my two older
children to preschool, but I'll be honest about the reason: I
wanted a break. I think people who try to make it sound like
preschool is necessary for their child are trying to avoid guilt
because they found it necessary for themselves. I don't think
that there is anything greatly wrong with preschool--it can be
fun for kids and give them experiences that are different from
what they get at home--but neither do I think it is necessary or
better than spending time with mom in a stimulting and loving
home environment. If you are concerned about getting her ready
look for a kindergarten readiness checklist on the internet like
Enjoy your years with your child!
Good for you that you're so happy in your role! Good for your
kids too! Upfront, my bias, which is obvious, is that your 2-3
yr old will probably enjoy some preschool time, and you may
eventually like it too. Your child probably won't have a hard
time in preschool if you wait till age 4, but you can also look
at it this way: First, most kids start some preschool by age 3,
and will spend 2 yrs with essentially the same group of peers,
which is good bonding. Plus, it's enjoyable for her. She gets to
do something that's really for her! Peers! Toys! A change of
scenery! Second, you could just send her for a short program: 3
hrs, twice a week, even a cooperative, so you're participating.
So it's not much time. Third, I suspect you may feel differently
when that baby comes along, and your 3 yr old may feel
differently too. She may be happier hanging out w/ peers for a
few hours a day than spending the entire day watching mom take
care of a demanding infant. Finally, many parents look at this
as an equity thing: I spent xx time alone focused entirely on
kid #1, perhaps I should have some focused one-on-one time with
kid#2 also. You can get that with #1 in preschool. You won't be
depriving #1 from sibling time. Plenty of time for that. But
whatever you are happy with will be fine, I'm sure. I just think
it's going to be easier on you all if the older child gets into
You're happy. Your child is happy. Count your blessings and enjoy the next year at
My 4 year old son is going to preschool for the first time this fall because he
wants to--not because anyone else thinks it's time. He just noticed all his
going last year, and he wants to go too. I think my son is very well prepared and
socialized, and he doesn't have the bratty behaviors that so many preschoolers
up from eachother! (I'm hoping that being 4 will help him resist the influences a
little better than he would have at 3!) I'm also hoping that my extra investment
our relationship will serve us well in his teenage years. I bet it will, and I bet
for you too!
I'm a bit confused about the ages you are speaking of. You wrote your child is 2
2 and you are considering waiting until she is 4. Do you mean, you want to wait a
year, until she is 3 1/2 before she starts pre-school. It sounds like you love
with your child, children and she has plenty of opportunities to play with other
children, so go for it, follow your instincts. I think it is absurd that we live
culture where we feel the need to ship our kids off to pre-school when they are
2 if we don't need to. I have heard pre-school teachers say that they only have
school for parents who need it, and that for those families who don't need it the
children are better off at home with a loving parent. My child is not starting
school until now and she is almost 4. I'm glad I waited, and it doesn't seem that
suffered in any way for NOT being in school until now. I fully support your
you prefer to keep her home for another year!
kept mine at home Mommy
We decided not to send our daughter to preschool this fall.
She is 2.9 years old and is not precocious. We decided not
to send her because she would be the youngest and we
thought she would be completely overwhelmed by being in
a classroom with 23 other students. I am now mourning my
decision as I watch all her playmates go to school. We will
reapply for next year and she will still have 2 years of
preschool before she starts Kindergarten. I would like to
hear from other parents who decided to wait to send their
child to preschool. Our daughter is also very shy which was
another factor in this decision.
Signed, Mourning Preschool Decision
We DID send our 2yo to preschool, so perhaps I'm not someone you
wanted to hear from....but I wondered, if you are ''mourning''
your decision, why not go ahead and send her to school? Most
schools do have a few openings at times other than September, so
it's worth considering. Even if you don't want to do it right
away, you might consider starting her in January, when she's
turned 3 and the spring ''semester'' starts.
We did the opposite of what you are doing: sent our then 2.8-
year-old daughter to a mixed-age preschool where she was the
youngest in the class. The school was wonderful and she loved the
teachers and the activities, but she was not emotionally mature
enough to connect with the kids very well until almost a year
later. As it turned out, that was when most of the kids who were
her age started preschool for the first time. So, although there
were no negative effects at all of having started early, it's
possible that she would have gotten more out of her first year had
we waited until she was older. Plus, 2 years of preschool is more
typical than 3. All in all, you have nothing to worry about.
I'm a ''stay at home mom'' who's looking into preschools for my
daughter for next fall. Since she will only be 2 years and 6
months as of Sept 1 (the common cut-off date), many of the
schools that require children to be 2.9 are essentially out of
the question for me. I'm beginning to wonder if it might be
better to just wait another year.
A little background so you know what I'm thinking (for what it's
worth)... I originally thought my daughter would be going to
kindergarten in '05, so it made sense to start preschool
in '03. Now that I see what the age cut-offs are for
kindergarten, it seems she won't go until '06 and so I wonder if
maybe 3 years in preschool is a bit much (plus by waiting
another year I'd have more options as to which school she could
On the other hand, we are talking about child #2 sometime in the
next year or so, and it would be nice to have her established in
a school before the hypothetical baby arrives. Also, frankly,
I'm with her *all* the time, and would love the time to myself
that having her in preschool for a few mornings a week would
give me! :) We have been attending (at various times) Gymboree
and Music Together classes, which she *loves*. She is also very
excited when we see children she knows at the park or in our
various playgroups, so I tend to think she would enjoy going to
preschool for all the activities and the social aspects... but
then again, it's hard to say since she is a sensitive child and
very attached to me.
I'd love to hear what other parents have to say about starting
preschool at that age (given that it's a choice, not driven by a
real need for childcare), especially as it relates to the
child's personality. Do you think it's worth waiting, for the
reasons I mentioned? What other factors would you consider?
Advice, please. :)
Many, many thanks!
I started my daughter in pre-school for two half-days a week when
she was a little over two. (She's now a bit over 2 1/4.) As you
have learned, most pre-schools don't accept such young children.
She attends the Cottage Playhouse in Montclair, which is actually
licensed as a daycare but run as a pre-school. The school has one
mixed age classroom with 12 children (aged 2 to 5) and two
teachers. It's a perfect environment for her. She loves older
kids and learns so much being with them. She likes to pretend to
be different big kids when she comes home; it seems to be a way to
try on their confidence and big-kid abilities. It's really helped
potty training progress because she has so many role models! The
teachers are great at setting up activities that interest all the
kids and have cultivated an incredible atmosphere of respect,
love, and safety.
I read different books on signs of preschool readiness, and my
daughter was definitely there, despite her young age. (I think
Penelope Leach and Meg Zweibeck were two of the authors I
consulted.) It's been a great arrangement for her and our family.
Preschool has been a more reliable source of childcare than a
part-time sitter, and the social stimulation and variety of
activities have really engaged her. We have another baby coming in
January, so I had a similar motivation as you. I know that it
wouldn't be ideal for all young kids, but she is really able to
communicate with people outside the family, is able to spend time
away from mom and dad, and has a great interest in the activities
they do at school.
Hope this helps.
I think it obviously has to do with what developmental state
your child is at. Last year we decided to put our 2.5 year old
in preschool from 9-12:50 five days a week because our nanny
suddenly decided to go to school parttime. Otherwise, I would
have waited until she was 3.5 -- but I'm SO glad that she went
in at 2.5. I hadn't realized that some of the things that I was
attributing to normal terrible twos were in fact that she was
needing more stimulation and more challenge than she was
getting -- and to be a ''bigger girl'' than I was treating her.
(Before she started preschool she was in Gymboree, Music
Together, a ballet class, art at MCPC, weekly trips to the zoo,
aqarium in SF, play dates, etc... which I thought was PLENTY of
The first 2 weeks were hard, and then she flourished far beyond
what I could have imagined -- loved the independence, the cool
toys/activities, her friends, having a lunch box. As a matter
of fact, nearly all of our games that she wanted to do at home
involved playing preschool.
I liked her only going until 12:30 so that she could have a
good nap at home and lots of 1:1 time. Looking back, I think
she would have had a really hard and frustrating year had I
waited until she she 3.5 before giving her this experience.
The decision to put her in at 2.5 was hard/traumatic for me,
but I had no idea how happy she was going to be.
I don't think that every environment is right at that age. We
ended up at Growing Light Montessori, which was perfect for
her. Things I liked: small class size, around 8-10 kids, 2
teachers, all toddler class with separate play area, really
astute and nurturing teachers who would carry her around and
hug her if she was having a ''needy'' day, and lots of great
activities that she adored and were far better and different
than toys commonly available. One piece of advice my wise
sister gave me which prompted me to look at Montessori is that
if your kid is not especially large or aggressive that the
Montessori method (properly applied) gives a bit more
protection. Big emphasis on sharing, taking turns, respecting
other's ''work'', that provides a chance for every kid to do
whatever they want without having to get their first, or be the
fastest. I think that philosophy was what my daughter responded
to the most. There is also an emphasis on trust and respect for
the kids as being very capable beings which she ADORED -- she
loved the fact that she was asked to put work away when
finished, throw away a used napkin, etc. Made her feel very big
Please feel free to email me with any questions -- this is a
topic that I'm pretty passionate about as I had such a profound
change in opinion!
my son started preschool last year two weeks before his 2 1/2
year old birthday. He was by no means the youngest in the
school. You sound like you have some good reasons for wanting
her to start preschool, and it also sounds like she might do
really well at the right school. (Another reason to do it now is
to get the whole preschool search thing over with by the time
your second child comes along!!) My son will have had three
years of preschool before he starts kindergarten, which my
husband thinks is out of control, but on the other hand, if you
can afford it, why not? I love talking to him about what he does
at school, and he is very proud to have his own ''place'' to tell
me about. I had him at the preschool 2 days a week last year,
three this year, plan to have four next year, and then by the
time he starts kindergarten he'll be all set for the big 5
day/week commitment. Good luck!
I just put my daughter in preschool last month at barely 2 years
old. Her birthday was just 3 weeks before school began! I
wanted to write because our family sounds like yours - I am a
stay-at-home-mom and we do many of the activities you mention:
Kindermusik, Gymboree, playgroups, Habitot classes, etc. My
daughter is also sensitive and a bit shy and clingy, but loves
learning new things and is excited when we go to our activities
with other children.
SO... I had a hard time deciding on preschool, but enrolled her
anyway. I figured if she wasn't ready I would take her out and
try again next year. (We were lucky enough to find a preschool
that starts at 2!) She has been there a month and loves every
minute of it! She is the youngest child, but is one of the
happiest and most involved in the classroom. She is bright and
talkative and understands that I am coming right back after
class. She hands tissues to the children who are crying (there
are lots of those too!) and tells them that their mothers will
come back too! She loves the activities and extra stimulation,
and now seems a bit bored with me! lol
The thing I did that was really helpful was to join a ''Mommy and
Me'' PRE-preschool class this summer. Once a week we went
to ''school'' together. The class was just like a regular
preschool class except that the parents went with the children.
So at the end of that class I explained to Kaytlin (who loved
every minute of it) that she was a big girl now and could go to
her own school all by herself. She was excited, but didn't
quite know what that meant. So for a few weeks before preschool
started we talked a lot about what would happen there and where
I would be while she went to school. We went to class the first
day and Kaytlin marched right in and told the teacher that she
was going to school by herself and Mommy was going home! We
never looked back :-) And I am thoroughly enjoying my two free
mornings each week!
Good luck with your decision! Just remember that nothing has to
be permanent - if you enroll in preschool and it isn't working,
there is no shame in taking her back out. In the Bay Area,
there is probably another kid on the waitlist who wants your
Pre-K programs are a great place for that last year of pre-
school for fall birthday kids. My daughter is in a wonderful
program and there are several great Pre-K classes in the Bay
Area. If your child is ready to start preschool and would
benefit from it, then don't worry about that third year. There
are more Pre-K options this year then there were last year and I
bet the trend will continue.
We started our 2 year, 4 month old daughter in preschool in 2000,
3 mornings a week and have found it to be a positive experience
. She loves her structured program, which has a curriculum, but
emphasizes play and developing social skills more than academics.
She has developed some stong attachments to her teachers and we
feel she is enriched by having exposure to the other kids and
teachers at school. We were lucky to find a combination daycare -
preschool which didn't require she be potty trained. We chose
to start preschool earlier anticipating the birth of our second
child and knowing we would need time with the new baby as well
as a way to cope with the adjustment of our older child.
If you can afford the extra expense, its a great way for stay at
home parents to get a short break. We are now starting our second
child at the same age in the same program and are excited and
happy it has gone so well for the family!
We started our daughter in preschool when she was 2 yrs 2 months' old.
Obviously, they don't require that the kids be potty trained. She had
been attending full-time daycare since she was 3 months old as my
husband and I both work full-time. Our daughter has thrived at her
preschool! This is her third year, and technically this year is pre-K. We
really felt our daughter was ready at 2 to start preschool, but waited a
few more months just to make sure. We initially wondered if it might not
be too early, but once we saw our daughter thriving so quickly there, we
knew we had made the right decision. All of this, of course, depends on
the child and the school. Even if you feel your child is ready, if the school
is not a good match for your child, it won't work out. We were lucky it
worked out and it's been so cool to see her develop socially,
emotionally, intellectually, etc.
We are expecting a new baby at the start of summer 2003 and have
a toddler who will turn three right around that time as well.
Originally our plan was to start him in preschool next fall.
Some of the schools we are considering run all year, and could
accept him before the new baby arrives, which seems like a good
idea. Can anyone offer experience and advice about benefits of
starting preschool before or after new baby? I know preschool
is a big change for kids, and we want to make the transitions of
school and new sibling as easy as possible.
My biggest concern is for newborn and mom's
health. If you send your 3yo to preschool,
especially for the first time, he'll get sick
often for the first 4 months. He'll
inevitably spread it around the household.
It'll be inconvenient for parents to take
care of the sick household. It may also result
in the newborn getting earaches and such,
needing antibiotics, and restless sleep from
congestion. I think breastfeeding helps lessen
I advise to wait until 4yo to start preschool.
Then he can suffer the requisite sick days,
adjust to a routine, obey teachers, make
friends and learn all the Pre-K skills so he
doesn't have to learn all that in Kindergarten.
Baby and mom/dad won't have to go through all
the adjustments along with 3yo.
My son started pre-school within a month of the birth of our
second child, and from day one it's been great for him. Loves the
school, the teachers, the other kids.
He was excited about the baby, pre-school (we had visited it
several times beforehand), and his 3rd birthday, which also
happened in between the other events.
But he's also the type of personality that likes the attention and
excitement. It could have gone the other way just as easily. For
him, going to pre-school was all ''his'' - something the baby
couldn't share. He's great with his sister, possibly because he's
not at home all the time competing.
If you have the option of introducing school before the birth, it
certainly sounds less stressful for everyone, and would give you
more time to help your child adjust if necessary.
If your child can start preschool a while before the baby is
due (not just a week or two), I highly recommend it. She will
have a cahnce to develop a new routine and new friends, and you
will have a little time for all the last minute stuff (or just
relaxing). If she starts close to when the baby is born
(either before or after), I think that adds to the feeling
(already likely to some degree) that the new baby's arrival
itself has led to the big change, or that you would rather
spend time with the new baby than with her. If she is already
enjoying her new ''big-girl'' activities well before the baby
comes, it won't seem quite so drastic, I think. If you can't
start well before, I would wait until quite a while AFTER, so
the two changes don't seem linked.
I know that in our case, having our daughter in preschool before
the baby came was a huge blessing! She already had established a
place of her own, with new friends, and more importantly, a
routine that did not change when the baby arrived. Although her
life at home was changing, and at times confusing, school remained
exactly the same, and this was such a wonderful comfort for her.
It gave her a place to go to each day where she could simply be
herself, and not the new big sister, or mommy's helper, and so on.
And, although it may not be very P.C. for me to say, it was a nice
break for me and for her. She arrived fresh home from school each
day ready to embrace her sister, and I--having spent time alone
with the new baby--felt that I could indulge her with my time and
not feel guilty about it. Good luck with your decision!
I think the answer to your questions depends upon...what kind of
toddler do you have, and how you think you can cope with both a
toddler and a baby at home(at the same time).
We had a similar situation. Our 2nd child was born in late
April, and our 1st child was due to start per-school in the Fall
just after he turned three. My toddler is so HIGH energy that I
ramped up his time with his nanny just after the baby was born,
and then placed him in his new pre-school early during their
summer session. Turned out to be the BEST thing for me b/c I
would not have been able to handle both all day, every day(my
husband is an attorney who works long hours). My son loved his
new school, and the summer session provided a wonderful
introduction and place to call his own. I was able to have
quality one-on-one time with my newborn, which was relaxing for
me. I must mention that my son has never had separation anxiety
issues, so pre-school was a very easy transition for him. He
goes five days a week from 9-2pm. Good luck!
- A mom who couldn't wait for pre-school to start!
My child will be 2 yrs and 9 Months next September. Is it
better for him to attend a pre-school where the children range
in age from 2-3 or 2.9 - 3.9 - should he be the youngest or the
oldest in the class?
I think it depends totally on you child's personality. Some
kids love hanging around with older kids, trying things, and
not minding if their skill level isn't the same. Others
continually feel inadequate - that they aren't as capable, and
can never catch up. Some enjoy being the ''big kid'', either as
leader or care-taker of the younger ones, while others feel
like being the oldest is boring (especially if most of the
activities are geared to the younger ones). So, try to figure
out your own child's tendencies.
My child has an October birthday, and here is what I'm
thinking about the situation. First of all, at preschool age, I
think you need to look at the individual child and not just his
or her birthdate to decide if he or she is ready to start the
socialization that is so important in preschool. My son has
been asking to go to school for several months now, and I
think he'll be more than ready at almost 3 to join with other
kids in preschool. I am not so confident that he'll be ready to
start kindergarten at almost 5, however. So I am looking for
programs that offer a third year of preschool or a
pre-kindergarten class. When the time comes, I plan to
decide what to do with the help of his preschool teachers.
Common wisdom these days is to start kids, especially
boys, in kindergarten later.
Hello. I have a question about the chances of getting my son into a
preschool if I wait until he's four.
I was planning to wait until my son is 4 to send him to preschool.
He's 2 1/2 now (he'll be three in July) and in a family day care situation that we love
and that suits me, a single mom who works full time. The preschools I'm
interested in are telling me that it is unlikely he will get in because there
are almost never any openings for four year olds.
Does anyone out there have experience with waiting until your child is 4 to
go to preschool? Any experience with preschool admissions for a first-time
attending 4-year old? Any advice on how to proceed? Should I give up on
our wonderful family day care and hustle to get him into a preschool now
in case I can't get him in when he's 4 (which may be pointless since the
admissions process for 3-year olds is over at most places)?
Don't even consider putting an end to good childcare
situation so that you can participate in another one with
Preschools - especially exclusive ones - are
notorious for creating parental anxiety over admissions.
You should be skeptical about any school that is
attempting to manipulate you into applying prematurely.
When it comes to child care - especially in the case of
single-parent families - you should pick the childcare
situation that is right for you. There will be an
appropriate preschool for your child when he or she
turns 4. Just take your time and keep looking.
We waited until my son was turning four to apply to
preschools because we were happy with his daycare situation
and were in no hurry. Sorry to say that we did discover that
in quite a few schools, four was too late. Having said that,
I can tell you that we did get into a preschool (a
cooperative) where we are happy. In your situation, I would
just sit tight for now and apply early and often for next
year. But for other people, I would say that if you do want
your child to attend a preschool, it might not be a bad idea
to get them started when they are three or so. In my son's
case, he entered a school where many of the kids had already
been there a year and had the benefit of knowing one another
and their teachers, surroundings, etc. I wish now that we
had started him a year earlier.
I recommend that you contact several schools that you have
seen mentioned in a positive way. Contact them soon. Let
them know when you would like your son to start, when his
birthday is, therefore what age he will be, and why you want
to wait until then. You may also want to state that you
understand there may be few openings for 4 year old boys at
that point. Ask them when you can visit their facility for
a tour. If you like the place, get on their waiting list
ASAP after(or during) the visit.
If they understand that your realize the openings will be
limited, then they may be relieved and may treat you in a
calm manner and may be glad to put you on their waiting list
for the start time you want. If you get on enough lists,
you are likely to be offered at least one space when they
learn that some other 4 year old boy is moving out of town
or going to kindergarten earlier than expected. Best of
luck. I think you will get a spot somewhere. Stay in touch
with them and be positive with them. Their jobs aren't
This was the exact situation for my son. He stayed with his
family day care, where he had been since he was 4 months old,
until he was 4 1/2. He is now in a pre-school for one year.
This was a very good decision for us, and in his last year in
day care he really thrived. The transition to pre-school was
relatively easy. Things that made it easy were talking about
all the new things he would learn, supporting his growing up,
and having a ''moving on/graduation'' ceremony at his family day
care. Regarding getting into a preschool: yes. I found that
many schools did not have an opening for him at that age, but
there were several that I liked that did have a space. I say-
don't sweat it too much. Maybe you won't get into your first
choice, but it will porbably work out well anyway. By the way-
we go to Via Nova, which will likely have an opening, and we're
very happy there. Good luck.
this page was last updated: Sep 15, 2014
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network