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Sound Off! When Did You Send Your Kids to School?

09/30/2008 at 09:30 AM ET
Limelight Pictures; Fame


In the United States, nearly two-thirds of children attend a preschool in the year before kindergarten, generally at age 4. However, many parents opt to put their children in some type of educational program even before that — including Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, whose daughter Violet Anne is attending preschool at 2 ½, and Felipe, Prince of Asturias and his wife Princess Letizia, whose daughter Infanta Leonor, turning 3 next month, is also in nursery school.

While some would argue that the earlier a child is in school, the better, others think it’s best to keep young children at home during those first years of life.

So here’s your chance to Sound Off! Tell us at what age you think it’s appropriate for a child to begin preschool.

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Showing 100 comments

Andrea on

I see this topic debated on several parenting boards. My daughter, who will be 3 this November, goes to preschool. She is there from 9-12 two days a week. 6 hours away from me, out of approximately 84 waking hours a week. That’s 7.14% of her waking hours away from me. It hardly counts as “someone else raising my child”, as I have seen it put so often. It’s fun for her, she learns it is OK away from me for a few hours, she learns rule-following (besides mom’s rules), she learns to play in groups, she does crafts, plays outside… I just don’t see *any* downside to this. And I can run all those not-fun errands without her. Doctor appointments, post-office, bank, etc. She doesn’t enjoy any of that! It’s a win-win situation.

JennyMary on

I don’t think there is a right or wrong age. It all depends on your personal situation. My daughter is 2 and we aren’t planning to send her to pre-school yet. A big reason is the cost. I live in NYC and pre-school is so expensive– $8000-10,000 a year… no exaggeration. We are teaching our daughter a lot of things at home– we bought flash cards, books and some other educational toys. We also enrolled her in a tumbling and music class.. mainly for socialization reasons.

Christine on

The age is irrelavent. It all depends on the readiness of the child. I sent my twin boys when they were 2.5 years old because they needed more activities than I could provide at home, and I needed a break too. They loved preschool and couldn’t want to go back again this year.

Christine on

My 3 girls all started a Parent’s Day Out program when they were 2 1/2, 2 mornings a week. They all enjoyed playing with the other kids, doing arts and crafts (which I’m not good at), singing songs, etc.

canada on

I personal homeschool my kids. never sent them to preschool, and have then a a handfull of things such as gymnastics, swiming and social groups.

her in BC Canada where I live the government just set it up so that all kindergarten classes in public schools are full day classes.

within the next 2 years they are planing to set up a program so that school starts at the age of 3.
to be honest this was do to allow parents to have an alternitive to daycare and babysitters. we live in an area that has a very expensive living expence – curently they are considering raising minimum wage to $10 an hour.

They are also providing before and after school care for working parents. by doing this a child will be out of the house possibly from 7 am until as late at 6 pm….that is 11 hours of the day away from home at the age of 3. that is just too much for me.

her in BC studies have shown that only about 60% of the province actually atend public school, we have a very high rate of alternitive, private and homeschool kids.

I personally feel that kids should be home being kids for as long as possible.

it is possible…I am a single mother of 5 year old twins….plus I go to school and work and teach them at home. anybody can do it, you just have to want to.

JJS on

I really think it depends on the child. My son is 2.5 and goes to preschool, 3 days a week for 4 hours. He loves it and is always excited to go. My younger child, will not be ready developmentally for preschool at that age (I am guessing) so she won’t start until she is 3 or 4. I am teaching them the school-type stuff at home, but I love that my son gets to play with friends and learn things like following directions in a larger group setting.

My son’s school is fitness based so he does gymnastics every day. And the whole school does morning dance songs. It is so fun to watch him do the dances (and he always is in the front row!)

I don’t think a young child should be pushed into preschool. My son’s class has a few kids who are not ready for school (they cry the entire time!). I want to tell those moms to keep their babies home for another year!

KF on

I think around age 2 1/2 – 3 is appropriate for starting a half-day preschool program (full-day would be way too long at this age, in my opinion) – but it really depends on the readiness of each individual child, so it’s hard to state a specific age for something like this.

My daughter started a half-day Montessori program 5 mornings a week at age 2 1/2, and she was definitely ready. It took her a little while to adjust to being away from me (this was her first time being away from me for significant periods of time, except for the occasional babysitter) so goodbyes were often hard for her at drop-off in the morning, but her teacher assured me that she she had a wonderful time once she was in the classroom and working on things! And it was also very clear from what my daughter said that although she didn’t like saying goodbye to me, she liked the activities, teachers, classroom and being with the other children – so I felt reassured that we made the right decision about sending her there when we did.

Around age 2 1/2-3, children are becoming more independent with respect to caring for themselves (dressing, toileting, getting jackets / shoes on) and are also becoming more social, in that they’re more aware of themselves in relation to other children – they’re moving away from parallel play and are wanting to play and interact more with other children in a group. Also, my daughter was wanting to do more than I felt I could reasonably offer her at home. For these reasons, age 2 1/2 was a good time for my daughter to start in a preschool program.

KellyC on

I think the age doesn’t matter quite as much as the child’s personality. I keep my children home – they are 4 and 2.5. They go to my church gym’s free childcare program 4-5 days a week while I work out for 1.5-2 hours a day, and that is working out perfectly. My 4 year old just turned 4 last week and won’t be eligible for the state funded preK until next fall. I will try to get him in but it is done by lottery, so he has a small chance of getting a spot. I don’t think we’ll pay for them to go to a private preschool – just send them to the state funded preK if they get in, and then public kindergarten. I wish kindergarten was only half days, and think that in general, the school day and year are too long. We’ll deal with it as best we can when the time comes.

Lori on

As I only have 1 child, I put her in playschool at 2 so she could interact with other children. I had a shy daughter too. I am so glad I did it! It brought the best out in her and she is now in grade 1 and loving her friends and school too!

vicky on

in Canada, its 5 years old. If you want your child to start at 4 years old, you have to go see some specialist who will evaluate your child.

Christa on

Both of my daughters started preschool at the local elementary school at 3. They both had speech issues and this allowed them to receive their speech class as well as learn to interact with the other children. They attended 1/2 day 4 days a week. They were still home each day in time for lunch.

I would schedule all the appointments or run errands in the mornings so that the afternoons were free to do the fun stuff.

jacky on

my son is currently 9 months and is already in preschool. do i want to send him…no, but do i have to…yes.

i am still a college student, so sending him there is important, i couldn’t finish school otherwise. luckily he only goes 2 days a week, and is there for about 7 hours. which is a long time, but it is what needs to be done.

besides needing to send him, i want to. it is great for his development and he LOVES it! he is learning so much from seeing other children, and he gets to learn social skills that he wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise.

i would love if i lived in a world where i could realistically be a stay at home mom all the time, but i can’t. i spend 5 full days a week with my son and 2 half days, and i am lucky enough to spend that time with him.

ultimately it is a parent’s choice. only they can decide what is best for them, their child, and their family.

Amber H. on

I believe it all depends on the child. I have to work full time and my 2 year old daughter is in an in home daycare. She thrives there…she loves being around other kids and playing, coloring, reading, dancing, etc. We have enrolled her in our church’s preschool for next fall when she will be 3 yrs 2 months old. I think she will love it and it will be structured and she soaks up so much already. She loves routine!

KF on

Vicky – I live in Canada as well, and I just want to clarify that I think the age your child can start in public school depends on the province. In Ontario they start junior kindergarten the year they turn 4, and another poster (“canada”) had some different guidelines for British Columbia… just pointing this out.

kris on

I have to agree with most of the other posters, it really depends on the individual child. My oldest was 3 1/2 when he started preschool. My youngest was 2 1/2 when he started preschool. He was ready at a younger age and the preschool my oldest attended had just started a program for 2 year olds. It gave them both some independence away from Mom in a setting where they were comfortable (The preschool is located at the church we attend).

I also think it helped my oldest prepare for Kindergarten. At the time he did not like doing any “school” type work at home so having a pre school teacher who was working on writing your name, letters, numbers etc really helped us.

With my oldest being in school all day it’s nice for my youngest to have the socialization preschool provides. He misses his brother and it seems to help him to go off to his own “school” a few mornings a week.

nosoupforyou on

I sent both of my boys to a private pre-school.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Susan on

I think it depends on the child and the parents. I personally would prefer to have my children in school, just so he or she can get a feel for it.

I was a socially inept child (I put it kindly) and I really think that an early pre-school start (3 years old) helped me to understand social interactions at a younger age. I was not a destructive or harmful child, but I was a little bit slower on the making friends side of things. My parents recognized this and sought to help correct the problem before it became a real problem.

But as I say, pre-school is not right for everyone. I think children need that interaction; but I also understand and acknowledge that it is my opinion and my choice.

Cordelia's Mommy on

My daughter just started kindergarten, a half-day program at the Catholic Church where we are parishioners. prior to that, from ages 3-5, she went to a co-op preschool, from 9-12 M-Th. The co-op was a wonderful experience for our family, and I highly recommend them. All the parents have to ‘work’ there one day a week at least, and have a job throughout the year, like science or president, etc. There are only 21 families, and 24 kids, so, everyone gets to know each other very well. It is a total community experience, takes a village and all. if you have the time to invest, and want to be an integral part of your child’s first school experience, look up co-ops in your area. I live in CA, and we went to the Studio City Co-op preschool. if you are in CA the there is a website for parent participatory preschools http://www.ccppns.org and you can find a school in your area.

Scotti on

Personally my sibs and myself all started preschool as soon as a school would let us! That was 3. we went 5 days a week from 8am till 5pm. And that inculded the summer time too.

My siblings are much older then me so by the time I got into preschool they were A. out of the house and B. my grandparents could of watched me. There wasn’t a reason to though I was better off in a preschool.

Back where I used to live too our kindergarten programs were from time school started (730) till when school got out (3pm) just like all other grades. I moved out to the west coast 10 years ago and found out apparently out here they don’t believe in sending kids to school all day long for some reason.

Kids should be a full day of school by the time they are 3 at least, 5 at the lastest. You are learning social interaction with other people other then your own family. That’s a very good thing.

Carine on

I see alot of people saying in Canada its 5 years old. I think it varies from province to province. I know in Ontario the child has to be 4 before December 31st. I know In Quebec its before October. My sister is December 29th and she started school at 3 she was more then ready. I started at 4 I would have been ready to year before as well. I guess it all depends on the child.

Scorpion2nv on

Like many of the other post, I believe that it depends on the child and the readiness of the child. My son is 1 1/2 and currently goes to an in home daycare. Once he is potty trained he will be going to preschool

lele on

this is another one of those hot debate topics like breastfeeding!

i kept my daughter at home until this year she is almost 4. we did a lot together. music, gym classes and slowly she adjusted to being in these classes away from me while i was in the hall watching and she transitioned perfectly to school this year. i am so happy with how we have done things. she is very happy… i would not change a thing!

Kari on

My older daughter started at a small Montessori preschool about about 31 montsh. She went 2 mornings a week that year, 3 mornings the following year, and now at 4.5 years is attending 4 mornings, plus 2 lunches. My younger daughter started this year at 27 months with 2 mornings. The girls are together in the same classroom. It has been very beneficial for both kids and for me to have a little bit of a break.

Sanja on

Here (Croatia) school starts at 6 years old, before that all children go to kindergarten (has three groups 1-3, 3-5, and 5-6 is preeschool).
The majority of children start at 1 years old (paid maternity leave is 1 year here), if both their parents and grandparents work (almost all do, since it’s not financially possible to raise a family of 2 or more kids on one salary). If parents or grandparents watch them, they usually start at 3 for half days to socialize and play with more children.

chatty cricket on

I agree with those who are commenting on the readiness of the child versus chronological age when considering a school type program for your toddler. My daughter was three years when she started preschool, but I have friends who’s children are incredibly social and benefited greatly by attending a little toddler program for a morning or two per week.

We chose to find a preschool program that starts at age three and follows our school districts age requirements (cutoff is September 1 for the school year). Because of when they were born during the year, my daughter started preschool when she was 3, my middle son will be 3.5 years and my youngest will be 4 years old.

kendrajoi on

My four year old JUST started preschool. He has been in daycare getting “socialized” since he was a little over two. He LOVES school, which makes me wish we had started that a little earlier, but it was just the way it worked out for us, and he seems perfectly OK. It’s whatever works better for your family and your child.

LISA23BOYS on

I think it partly depends on the readiness of the child but having taught both preschool and kindergarten and having all boys, I have found that boys tend to be a bit more energetic and tend to be able to focus better when they start school just that bit older. Girls seem to want to sit still and listen that bit earlier..so as far as a magic age, I don’t think there is one. In most situations, if you are willing to pay out then any age is accepted into preschool. My oldest son started a day school at 2 and a half and my middle son started at 3 years old and we’ll see when my baby starts.

lele on

before 3 is it really considered school??? i had friends say what are you doing with ___? where is she going to school when she was 1 1/2, 2 and i am thinking… isn’t that daycare? not school???? just a thought.

Ivey on

Both my parents worked, so I was in pre-school pretty early,(around age 3) the montessori type. I still have memories of it and they are all good!

Carol on

Both of my boys attended the Head Start program for 2 years before entering kindergarten. Being in the program allowed my oldest son to get a diagnosis and treatment for a speech problem that his pediatrician did not see as a problem and I am grateful that he got the early care for it.

Other than that, I’m not going to say whether that helped them greatly in school, it didn’t hurt them, and it did help them develop social skills.

Henrietta on

I think it really depends on the child. My daughter is 4 and she knows all of her letters, can count to 100, is learning how to add and substract, and is starting to read…does she go to preschool? No, she has learned all of this at home. She won’t be able to start kindergarten for another 2 years because of when her birthday falls. I have no intention of putting her in preschool either. She is a very smart little girl. I really doubt seriously that preschool could teach her any better than I can at home. I have also never felt the need to have a break from her. I love having her around, and i miss her terribly. When it is time for her to start school, she will, but fr now she is doing just fine at home. She has an excellent vocabulary and is constantly amazing people with how well she can talk and the words she can say, especially when they find out how hold she is.

With that being said…this is what works for me. I am in no way saying I am doing a better job keeping her at home and teaching her than those parents who do put their kid in preschool. I think every kid is different, all parents are different, and every situation is differnt. Everyone does the best job they can at every given moment, and to say that one’s way is better than another’s is completely eroneous, and let’s face it…fight’n words LOL!

Dana on

When my oldest was 3, we started her in a local preschool program 3 days a week for 3 hours at a time. This was a nice break for me with an infant at home. (They did start at 2 if the child was potty-trained.) I was also in school full-time working on my degree, so they spent the other 2 days a week with a sitter.

When my oldest turned 4, I put them both in a daycare center as opposed to the sitter since there were only 2 other kids at a the sitter’s house (who were older) and I wanted to make sure that my youngest had interaction with kids her own age.

I am now working full-time with a 2nd -grader and a preschooler. They both go to school all day and my oldest is in an afterschool program at her school. I feel very guilty about them being in school all day, but when I have a day off and try to pick them up early, they shoo me away. They love going to school and playing with their friends and learning new things.

Rachel on

My nearly 3 year old just started preschool and he loves it. He would go everyday if we let him. We will put our younger son in the same school next fall when he is 2. For my sons it works really well (and gives me a few hours away from the kids!).

jacqui on

My daughter has been in Montesorri School since about she was 1.5 yrs. The decision to put her in Montesorri so early wasn’t really by choice, more by desparation. The daycare situation in Quebec, because of a province subsidy in place to make daycare affordable, is a mess – families who don’t actually need daycare will put their name on a waiting list because its so afforable, making the average wait for a space approx 3 yrs! The only childcare space I could find for my daughter before going back to work was a home daycare of VERY questionable standards. Montessori felt like our only choice. Two years later she is thriving in the program – thank heavens – but I doubt that it is the case with every child who starts a program like this so early.

I think I may have just started a new discussion topic – “how do you feel about the state of the daycare system where you live … “

Elyse on

I think it should all depend of the readiness of the child. I was 3 or 4 when I started and that was the perfect age for me. The ages have seemed to change since my time in preschool (20 years ago.) Kids seem to go at a younger age now.

I think the same applies to kindergarten. Some kids are ready at age 5 others do better at age 6. (I’m saying 6 is the latest for a child to start kindergarten.) I don’t think there is any right or wrong age for preschool, as long as the child is ready and is enjoying it.

When I have kids I will play it by ear. Each child is different and they each move at a different pace.

yogadaisy on

Can it be called “pre-school” if a child is under 3?? Let’s be honest and call it daycare.

That said, I have four children and none of my children has attended or will attend pre-school. I’m fortunate enough to be a full-time at-home mom and cherish the time we have together before kindergarten starts. I consider myself to be their “pre-school” teacher and we follow a loose lesson plan involving lots of reading and seasonal activities. I believe it’s vital for small children to spend their early years with a parent. My oldest two who are in elementary school now started kindergarten more than ready and are excelling at their grade level both scholastically and socially.

We schedule lots of parks and rec classes, playgroups, time with neighbor kids, etc. I don’t feel sending them away from me at age 2, 3, or 4 is appropriate nor necessary for them or me.

Max on

In the UK its different. Most children are in Nursery (Kindergarten) by the time they are 3 and are usually there 5 whole days a week. I started School at 4 years old. Personally I love that i started early. I’m now 18 and in my second year at University. I’ll have graduated before I hit my 22nd birthday. I think its better to get children educated as early on as possible. Haven’t studies shown that children absorb the most information before the age of 7?

elisabeth on

I live in Ontario Canada. Here school starts with JK between the ages of 3.5 and 4 depending on what month you are born in. Then Sk Then Grade one and so on. For JK and SK they go every other day full days. In 2009 they are starting every day full day to help working parents as it is hard to find day care for alternate days and expensive. I love the idea I find my 3.5 year old has outgrown me at home. She LOVES school

Lorus on

I live in BC, Canada. As long as your child turns a certain age by then end of the calendar year then they can enter school. The preschool my daughter attended had two classes, one for 3s and another for the 4s. So when September came along she was 2y9m and could have enrolled but I kept her out until the January when she was actually 3. The following year she entered the 4yo preschool and then Kindergarten at 4y9m.

I think it depends on the child on whether they should enter school early. My daughter was an only child and had a speech delay so going to preschool was a great choice for her. I have all the respect in the world for parents who realize that their children born late in the year (Oct-Dec) who just aren’t ready (mature or academically) and hold them back out of Kindergarten until the following year.

Irish on

Age 3-4. I know this from 2 personal experiences..myself and my son.

My sibs were older and in school and my mom was a stay-at-home mom so needless to say I was glued to her hip. When she tried to put me in pre-school (where my own aunt was the teacher), I screamed till the took me out.

Now I was a stay-at-home mom so I feared for my son going to pre-school, but he liked it. I think it was because he was an only child and desperate for the sight of other children.

And it worked so well..he learned alot and nowadays when u go to kindergarten your almost expected to know the things 5 year olds back in my day wouldnt need to know.

But also, dont send them TOO soon cuz then they will learn too much and be bored once they reach kindergarten and its repetitive. Then they get restless and cause poblems. So 3-4, no earlier in my opinion.

Lauren on

I started my daughter at 2.5, my son at 3 for 2.5 hours twice a week. I sent them more for the social interaction and to give me a little break. They were happy to have a bit of independence, and it’s nice for me to be able to run errands.

3boyznadog on

My boys all started pre-school at 3, 2 days a week for 2 years, then they go to pre-K at 5, Kindergarten at 6. They really needed some social exercise just because we don’t get out much, and quite frankly, I needed a break! If you want to teach at home… great! If you want pre-school… great! I take more issue with parents who send their kids to Kindergarten the year the turn 5 years old. Not all kids, of course, but I think boys are socially lacking (in general), and should be forced to wait until they’re 5 1/2 and older. My June boys started Kindergarten at 6 yrs old, but my February boy will be 5 1/2, and will only be in pre-school for 2 years, instead of the 3 yrs of pre-school the other 2 got. Whatever! All kids and families are different, and they require different things. I just have to worry about my family… not everyone elses.

Lorelei on

I’m at SAHM that was working outside the home when my first two were little. They went to a daycare/school. That was difficult because I felt like I was missing so much, but we did what we had to do. By the time my youngest was 3 I stayed at home so he went to a preschool co-op for two and a half hours twice a week and loved it. The co-op required parental participation (at least once a month to assist the teachers. I loved it because I could see him socialize without hovering.

Carrie Jo on

As a child development major, my opinion is that preschool is fine at any age, as long as it’s play-based and there is an appropriate teacher to kid ratio. That’s how children learn the best, especially at such young ages. The interaction with other kids is great for them, not to mention having a predictable schedule.

Shammy on

Both my children started pre-school at 2-3 years of age. Strongly recommend to all parents to consider this if feasibly possible. The child gains more independence, social skills, academics, readiness for Kindergarten, and self confidence as an individual.

School is very competitive and you want to make sure the child is ready and happy to be there daily.

Lucki on

I am seeing comments from Canada about sending children to school. I would just like to say that a child by law does not need to begin school until the age of 6 (grade one).

I don’t feel that there is a right or wrong age for children to go to preschool, if the parents choose to allow their children to attend. Parents should not feel that children need to go to school. I am an Early Childhood Education student in my second year. I think that everyone needs to do what works best for their family situation.

Tracy on

In Belgium, pre-school starts age 2.5, full time. Most children will start school at that age as school is entirely free, whereas daycare isn’t.

Amber S on

My twins went to pre-school right after turning 4. Now they are 5 and in kindergarten.

My youngest will be going to the same pre-school but they changed their policy so he’ll get to start sooner at 3.5 years. They now take toddlers as long as they are 2 years 9 months by December this year. He could start this year but we are working hard on potty training first.

paranoid on

My DD will be 3 in December, and I decided not to put her in preschool this year. The way our school system works, she’ll be almost six by the time she starts kindergarten, and I don’t think she really needs three whole years of preschool.

Developmentally, I think DD would do fine in school. But between playdates, story times and other activities we do together, I don’t think there’s any harm in keeping her out this year. She has the next two decades of her life to attend school, but only a few short years to hang out with me.

Shelby on

We’re still debating that question, but leaning toward not sending our kids to preschool at all. Personally, I never went, and excelled academically, and believe I had a pretty normal social experience, as well. (What I mean is I never felt awkward, had normal friendships, etc.) I am the youngest of two, and I think it helped (socially) that my parents took me a lot of places with them–not to say I never had a babysitter or spent a week with my grandparents. We’re actually considering homeschooling our kids, in which case preschool seems sort of inconsistent. I make sure my kids have learning and social opportunities in other ways, and do some “preschool” activities at home (i.e. learning numbers, letters, how to hold a pencil properly, manners, etc.) To be honest, even though this is only a small part of the equation, we probably couldn’t afford it, actually. All that being said, I can definitely see some positive aspects to preschool, especially when it’s just a few hours a couple of times a week.

Chloe on

I live in England, and our children are in what we call Nursery (ore-school) from 3 years old, for up to 12 hours a week which is funded by our government. However, if you choose to put them into Nursery earlier, then you are charged for this, and that’s the way it has been here for a long time.

My little boy is an only child and has just this month started going to nursery one morning a week for just 2 hours. He is 2.5, born a few months after Violet Affleck, and he absolutely adores going there. As an only child, he only has adult interaction with me, and of course I have a household to run so of course cannot dedicate my entire day to him. When he is at nursery, he gets to do a lot of things he can’t do here with me, the most important being playing with other children of his own age and learning those important life lessons of sharing, caring, playing together and empathy for others.

I can imagine that parents such as Ben Affleck and Jen Garner want Violet to be a sociable little girl, and to have time with people her own age as I have and so I completely agree with them putting her in nursery. It broke my heart last week on his first morning when I dropped him off as I was totally lost for 2 hours, but he didn’t shed a tear, he ran in and started playing…it was me sobbing outside the gates because I missed him! But the teachers have come to me and said they cannot believe how he’s settled in and his speech also, and it has reassured me I have done a great job as a mum to him so far and that he is enjoying himself, in fact he keeps asking to go back every day!

I personally would never put a child younger than say 2 years old into care because I believe that time is so precious and I couldn’t have beared to be parted from my little boy, but I know now at 2.5, he is alrady gaining a certain independence, needs to be with children his own age, and is also now reassured that Mummy can go away from him and will always come back for him. It’s done his confidence and play skills a lot of good, and for those reasons I am more than happy with my decision of nursery for him.

Lari Ann on

I personally sent my children to preschool at age 4. I have a home daycare, so they get plenty of interaction with other children at home. If I was a stay at home mom, I would surely have sent them at 3.

Pogue Mahone on

We homeschool our 11 kids right from the beginning; we feel if you’re so eager to send your kids off to school/pre-school/daycare, etc.. so early, then WHY do you even HAVE them? We personally love always having our kids around and to raise them ourselves with our values, NOT that of the nanny-state. I was farmed-out to daycare from when I was 6 weeks old and hardly ever saw my mother and always resented it and swore I’d never do that to my own kids.

Danielle on

Children keep being sent to school earlier and earlier and to be honest evidence has shown it is only stressing children out and they do not learn anymore than children who start later. Studies between english children who often start nursery school at 2 and then in full time education at 4 and other european countries such as germany where full time education doesn’t really start till 7,have shown that by the time children leave school they are at the same standard anyway. I just think english children are more stressed out as they have been bogged down with school from the start. Exams at 5 is ridiculous.

There is always the exception of a bright child who does need something extra earlier but I feel until 5 years, home is the best learning enviroment.
Read Steve Biddulphs ‘Raising babies’ Should under 3′s go to nursery?
It will give you a lot of evidence as to why they shouldn’t.

Linny on

In Sweden you don’t do pre-school. You start kindergarden when you’re 6 years old. But most parents send their kids to day-care when they’re about 1-2 years old.

Sheena on

I remember being in preschool at the age of 4 and absolutely hating it. I was extremely shy and didnt learn any skills anyway. I was taught most everything at home. I dreaded going to school. It was very traumatizing. But once I went to kindergarten at age 5 I was totally fine. It was just that I was a year older and less scared because of it. I dont see the point in putting my daughter in preschool at the age of 2 or 3. It sounds pretty much just like daycare to me. I teach her stuff at home and she interacts with kids just fine. I dont think she will be going anywhere until kindergarten. I understand parents who want to put their kids in preschool but I do not think it is in any way something that NEEDS to be done. My daughter will not suffer without it. If the kid is enjoying it, fine, but if they are scared to death like I was, take them out please!

Sara on

I definitely agree with the thought that the readiness of the child and family should be a determining factor. My son just started preschool at age 4, which worked for our family. Some start at 3 which works for them. I do, however, think that a formal ‘school’ setting (as opposed to say, a day-care that says they teach) is too much for kids under 3.

Kimberly on

I think some of you are frowning upon women who put there kids in “daycare” (the ugly word) at a young age. I’m not sure many of you are sensitive to the fact that this is a necessity to many families who aren’t fortunate enough to have one parent stay home.

Both my sons were put in daycare at 4 months old, and both have become well-mannered, normal, adjusted children. They are both quite smart and advanced for their age. My oldest is in Kindergarten now and already reads, understands addition and subtraction and we’re working on spelling. As a mother, I would, of-course, prefer to have stayed home with them, but that was not an option in my case. I devote all the waking hours THEY have that I am not working to them and enriching their lives. So excuse me if I don’t apologize for having to work.

Bel on

We’re in the UK. My eldest son went to preschool at 3, but never started school as we decided we wanted to home educate. I have three kids, now 2,4 and 6. We’re having a brilliant time

seosinger on

I, too, believe that its a personal choice based on lifestyle, personality, etc. We are blessed to be thriving on one income, so I am homeschooling our children. But they are also involved in extracurricular acitivities and social opportunities. Before the age of 4, its basically just daycare. Maybe they do some more educational play than a normal daycare, but its not really like “school”. And most of the preschools around here are just two days a week from 8am to 11am. That’s not too much time away from mommy or daddy IMO.

Amanda on

I personally think the child should be the deciding factor if at all possible. We started my oldest in preschool at 3, but we don’t plan to start our youngest until 4

Jane on

I’m a kindergaretn teacher in CA. We expect and hope that all kids are in pre-school before kindergarten. It has absolutely nothing to do with them learning the skills taught (though it helps immensley with the rigorous state standards), but the scoailization and play experience.

For kids who have never been to pre-school, it is really hard to jump into kindergarten with 20 kids, a bathroom down the hall and a teacher in charge. We can tell the very first day who has been to pre-school and who has not, and it is not by how many letters they know or how clearly they speak.

Mommy-and-me classes and once-a-week swim/gym/play times do not always prepare the kids for what is required of them. At pre-k programs, they are taught a lot of the preliminary school skills that parents often don’t know to teach (or can’t – if mommy is always there to do something for them, it is really hard when teacher makes them do it for themselves).

I think that pre-school or pre-k programs are essential to a child’s success in any school.

yogadaisy on

Jane, you said, “I think that pre-school or pre-k programs are essential to a child’s success in any school.”.

I heartily disagree with that. My oldest two children are evidence that pre-school is not necessary for success in school. In fact, I believe children age 5 are more equipped emotionally for learning independence and school skills than those who are 3 or 4.

Kindergarten is not even a required grade to attend–the law states that first grade is the first grade that children are required to attend (at school or homeschool). Kindergarten was orginally a prep grade for 1st grade.

School becoming more the norm for younger and younger children is a reflection of working parents not able to care for their children rather than children’s need for earlier education.

Beverley on

My son started a 2 morning, 2 hour a time preschool when he was 2. Had he not done that, the professional child development people with degrees and all kinds of education who had lots of experience with kids would not have been able to tell me that there was a problem with my son’s development. As a first time mother, I thought he would automatically start talking well sometime and social skills would develop properly. They knew after one week that he needed to be evalutated and within a month, we had an autism diagnosis. I think that I would have figured it out eventually, but their expert eyes caught it a lot faster than my inexperienced eyes did. He then started at a special needs preschool and thank the lord that he did. So I am forever grateful that I sent my son to preschool at 2.

Renee on

Yogadaisy,what are you trying to say exactly? I know that now in most families both parents have to work. Let’s not forget single parents as well. Even couples that could afford to have one parent at home may decide that they don’t want to stay at home. They have the right to enjoy their jobs and their family.
Pre-school sounds like a positive thing from the comments I’m reading. I’ll probably put my children in one when I have some. That maybe ten years from now :p

hannahmumma on

my dd started jk on onatio canada at 4 and did tuesdays and thursdays and every other friday…..this year she’s now 5 and in sk and does the same days as in jk!!

Kat on

I think it depends on the child and the situation.

For Jennifer Garner, putting Violet in school will give Jennifer time alone with the new baby, and give violet some time away from baby where she doesn’t have to share everyone with baby. Since Ben is sometimes away working on a film, this gives her a way to get help.

Also, I think for kids in the spotlight, like Violet, it gives them a place where, early on, they are with other kids away from the famous parent. Unlike in a playgroup, she can make friends without anyone thinking about who her mom and dad are.

For the royal families, like the one mentioned above, I think it is a very similar thing. The parents have to travel for their work associated with being royal, so this gives the child some structure and stability away from the castle.

Also, it gives a routine amount of socialization with other kids their age and, again, when the other kids won’t be thinking of them as royals yet.

Getting this in early, before they will simply be looked at as princesses and princes, but when they are just thought of as ordinary kids is crucial.

Now, for me, I stay home, my husband isn’t away very often for work, and with the spacing of our kids, I just didn’t feel it needed to put the kids in school before age 4.

I did make sure they got socialization and we worked on letters and stuff when they showed interest, though.

But I’ve known other moms who just needed that break and sent their firstborn off to school starting in the pregnancy of the second and then started the second during the pregnancy of the third.

And good for them for knowing themselves.

With my second, they were very close in age, but I was lucky enough to have my mil around all day every day for the first 9mo, so I had that extra set of hands.

If I’d had to do it without any help, I likely would have wanted to put him in daycare/nursery school 2-3 days a week so I could get stuff done more.

My third child came almost 3yrs after my second, so that wasn’t an issue. I instead had one in preschool 6mo later… and until then, the two older ones entertained each other when I was busy… and by the time the older one went to pre-k, the 3yr old was able to be gentle with the baby or help his mommy with chores.

gail brown on

Hi im in uk so things bit diffrent here.
My daughters been inprivate nursury since she was 1years old as I worked fulltime I now run business from home shes 2half and goes 2days a week. shes very hapy socilable has manny freinds. nursury go on annual trips and mien take them tpo park on sunny days they ahve small back yard or softpplay room for when wethers bad and in uk frequently is.
Our governemnt encourage preschool as the term after their third birthday they get 15hours free nursury or playschool.Their hoping to lower that age to 2 in the future each nursury has set educational framework called birth to 5matters which sets out standards and what they should be learning at each stage.
Kids here start reception of infants or primary school(kindergarten at age 5). I feel confident my daughter be ok she sonly child so got socail/sharing slills from nursury she sbright with long vocabulary and loves talking about her day she love smessy play which is much easier at nursury.
Have a perents evenng soon too see how shes doing but obvious to me shes doing well and has so many party invites has better socail life than me!

I think it depends on the child, giving them the freedom bit earlier makes kindergarten lot easier.

coco on

i personally believe that schooling should begin at home for the first few yrs. i began schooling my daughter at home for the first two and 1/2 yrs and then under instructions from my pedatrician, i registered my daughter for preschool. she began school at age 3.she has always been a bright child and a normal classroom setting has expanded her mind as well as helped her with social skills. she is now six and in the 1st grade gift and talented program. she took her first standardized test this past spring and scored in the 99% percentile in the nation for children her age in all academic areas which equates to third grade and above. school is a good thing as far as im concerned!

Karm on

As a teacher of children in the age grouping of 2 and 3 year olds, I find it important and necessary for children to be involved with other children their own age or close to it.

This may include, preschool, a day home, daycare, swimming lessons, mother and me groups, ballet, story time at the library, kung-fu etc.

As a professional, I believe that as long as parents are providing educational experiences every day and doing things with them (it can be as simple as pointing out a rainbow) then the child doesn’t NEED preschool.

However if a parent cannot or will not find the time in their schedule to bring every day experiences and teach their children and they are in a situation where they cannot get out into the community to socialize their children then preschool may be necessary. This being a precursor to elementary school.

It is vital to a child’s development to be with kids their own age, give or take a few years.

K

Emily on

I didn’t really all of the comments, but I read probably around the first 20-30 and I have one thing to reply about. I am currently 2 months away from graduating college with my early childhood education degree. I want to teach preschool — the younger the child, the better, because I love infants and toddlers. I student taught this summer at a preschool and they start accepting children who are 2 months old. And yes, I consider this school. When children are that young, school isn’t about academics. It’s about teaching children different kinds of things like fine motor skills, gross motor skills, social skills, etc. Even though they aren’t necessarily learning academics in the way we think of academics, they are still learning in a school setting. The school’s job is to provide a child with a variety of opportunities and sometimes more opportunities than they can get at home. What I mean by that is that in one school you can have so many materials — for instance, a gross motor room with a climbing wall, huge mats, a rope to climb, a ball pit — and then another room with a piano and a stage and boxes of dress up clothes, etc. When I was student teaching this summer, I worked with children from 11 months up to 15 months and it wasn’t just daycare. We provided them with a variety of materials and activities that were developmentally appropriate.

Sorry for the “rant.” As a future preschool teacher, I get really irritated by the, “Why is that school?” or “That’s just daycare” comments.

That being said, I wouldn’t personally put my child in preschool when they are 2 months old. I would prefer to keep my child at home with me, too, just like I know a lot of you do — but preschool is still preschool when children are younger than 2 or 3.

Amy on

I have two children who are now 5 and 6 1/2. I didnt send either one of them to preschool. My son who is 5 had a lot of developmental delays so he went to occupational therapy and speech 3 times a week which helped a lot. He started k5 this year and he is in speech and resource there. My daughter always excelled. She is in first grade and she is reading on a third grade level. I think that its up to parents to when they need to send them to preschool or if they send them at all. I loved having my children home with me and teaching them.

britmama on

My daughter was in family-based daycare from 3 months old, with a loving caregiver, just steps from our home. We lived in NYC, it was too expensive for my husband and I not to work.

We moved when she was 2 yrs old and a relative took care of her until she was about 2.5, but it was not until she attended preschool that her social and language skills soared.

She is now in 2nd grade and is a loving, fiercely independent child, with close friends inside and outside school.

Now, with no close family nearby, I have the support of other work-outside-home mothers which is great.

I’m from England and did not attended nursery school as a child. I went straight to school at 5yrs old. My mum sent my sister to nursery school at age 3. I guess every child is different.

Like someone said earlier, not everyone has the choice to stay home with their children from birth to 3 yrs. Each situation is different. It would be great if the government provided subsided quality nursery school for everyone, but education does not seem to be a priority here, unless you live in a good school district, which means higher taxes, or as an alternative you have to go private.

Personally, I welcomed the fact that my child was able to bond with other people at an early age, yet still remaining extremely close to me and her dad.

Silvermouse on

Although I didn’t particularly like preschool, my mother had no choice. She had three in a row, stairstepped and we fought all the time. It didn’t hurt us. . and gave her time to get some social time and some time to get errands done. Though she called my preschool teachers my second year morons. It only gave her more emphasis on how marvelous my kindergarten teacher was which she truly was :-). I think it is important to let your kids go to a public school for at least a year to experience the real world and meet people from different social classes. But that’s just my own opinion so no flames please.

Barb on

My four are now 15-25, and I never sent any of them to school until they went to college. Homeschooling works! BUT you have to like your kids, enjoy watching them grow and learn to stretch a buck like I’ve done for 25 years, because we never had a huge income. And you know what? I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat :)

Kim on

Generally in Australia it seems a common thing to send your kids to preschool a year before kindergarten (first yr of ‘big school’) to sort of get them used to routine and other kids etc but then I do send my just 2 yr old son to preschool/daycare two times a week due to work commitments, there was no other option and I am finding he is learning a lot from going, his skills are improving and he gets to interact with other kids on a regular basis, which he doesn’t get at home as he’s currently our only child (with another one on the way). I don’t really approve of any more than 2 days though, for one thing, expensive! It costs around $100 for two days for my son, making it near pointless for me to work one of the days he attends. But he gets so much out of it that it doesn’t worry me to send him there. We spend a lot of quality time together when not at preschool, he doesn’t miss out. I think basically there is a happy medium where kids get that quality time at home and also the benefits of preschool.

J on

My opinion is if the child is potty trained they are ready for preschool.

suzanne on

Oh Yes Pogue, only those who can afford to stay home 24/7 with their kids should be allowed to have them.
Ridiculous.

Brandi on

My boys both did a nursery school program two days a week just in the morning hours, starting at 2 1/2. I could do my errands in peace, plus they learned so much while they were there. it was great for both of us.

Mrs. R. on

I’m so fascinated reading the other posts! It is so interesting to learn about how early childhood education is handled in other countries. Here in California, kids enter kindergarten if they are 5 before Dec 1. My daughter is a Dec 29 birthday so she will enter K when she is 5 and 9 months. She’s almost 2 now, so my husband and I are weighing our options for preschool vs. daycare. She’s in a super home based daycare now that has a program based on montessori pre-schools. The owner was a montessori teacher for 30 years before deciding to do home based care for toddlers. Because of this, we’re thinking of not sending out daughter to actual preschool until she’s 3 and 9 months – two years before kindergarten. At that time, we’ll put her in a morning only preschool program (there are all-day ones here too, but I work part-time, so I don’t need all day care).

As for appropriate – I think it completely depends on the child, the preschool, and the family. I don’t think it’s ever appropriate to send a child to preschool because you think it will make them smarter. It’s ok to send them because you think they need a more stimulating and challenging environment than a daycare might provide, but that would of course depend on the quality of daycare options.
When it comes to early childhood education, parents either make great choices, or no choices at all it seems. No one wants to put their child at a disadvantage, the only ones who forgo preschool are those who choose to educate at home, or those for whom it is never explained as an option. To be more clear – I am a 1st grade teacher, and the students who I have had who have not attended preschool at all are those students from background where culture, language, or economics are a HUGE barrier to discovering options for their child’s education.

It would be awesome if every child had some educational opportunity before the age of 5. How many years would depend on the kid.

Tara in Australia on

My son started preschool on his 3rd birthday. He is now in his second year and is 4 1/2. He goes 5 days a week this year- and the day runs from 9-3, a typical school day. He loves it and is very excited to start kindergarten next year ( he will be just turning 5).

I cannot imagine him having stayed at home all this time- he is much too social, clever and interested in school to have been home all this time. he would have been desperately bored- and with all the school readiness that is being taught, he is more than ready to begin primary school.

He has absolutely thrived with this experience- and like most I think it depends on the child.
I totally believe in preschool, if only 2 days a week.

April on

My little boy started preschool at 3. It was five days a week for about 3 hours. I was very involved as far as helping out and field trips, which was fun for the both of us. He really enjoyed me being there on special days.

He started again this fall in K-4, and comes home and tells me about “his kids” (all of his friends) and what all he has done. We have his first field trip this week and he is so excited.

I think these two years in preschool will better prepare him for kindergarten and having to be away from me for a larger part of the day. He has learned how to write his name, working on counting to 20, he knows his letters and can now tell you the sounds of vowels.

Oh and my little boy had a minor speech problem and the preschool had someone come in to work a little extra with him about twice a month, and so far this year he dosen’t need any help. Which I think is better than waiting until kindergarten. I personally had to have a speech class until I was in the second grade. I wont have to worry about that with him.

Kimberley on

I was a working mom when my daughter was 2 months and started daycare. We had a WONDERFUL woman who had her own 2-year-old-daughter, who cared for our daughter. At 2 years, when our daycare provider was pregnant with her second child, we put our daughter in preschool (half time with preschool, half with her daycare provider, the first 6 months). Difficult at first, but, ultimately, it was a great decision. My daughter graduated two and a half years later and entered kindergarten right before her 5th birthday (early), already a reader. She is now a college freshman, doing just fine, thank you very much :-) As an aside, I worked with my child, A LOT, esp. with reading and the like, then she went to a Montessori-based kindergarten, but I had done all my research and I was COMPLETELY comfortable where my child was headed, educationally. She is almost 18, and I’m very happy!

Jessalyn on

My kids started going to preschool at age 3. We’re fortunate to have a high school near us that has an Early Childhood Development Lab Preschool Program. When my daughters were 3, we only paid $30 a month for 6 to 9 hours a week of school. My son goes now and we pay $60 a month for about 9 hours a week. Compared to other preschools, this is a bargain. I think it is a great experience for my kids. They learn to be away from me for a few hours a few days a week before they start Pre-K and are away from me 6.5 hours a day, 5 days a week. They enjoy playing with other kids, learning songs, alphabet, numbers, etc.

Pogue Mahone on

To Suzanne:
I didn’t mean only those parents who can “afford” to stay home with kids should be allowed to have them; I meant if you can’t bother spending time with your kids and basically have strangers raise them,and hardly ever see them or raise them yourselves then why are you even a parent in the first place? I didn’t have kids so that someone else can raise them.Next time, please don’t put words in my mouth.

Camille on

Pogue Mahone, I think you are being very harsh ! A lot of people including myself put their children in preschool because we feel it is good for THEM(the children) to be around other children their age and learn to socialize outside the home setting. I don’t think anyone sends their kids off to preschool to get rid of them…
In my case, my son loves preschool, he is a very social 3 year old and would be very bored constantly at home with me and his younger sibling. At school, they have many interesting, age appropriate, engaging activities, whether it be in motricity or arts and crafts, not to mention he has 20 other kids to play with. I cannot see any downside to preschool (in our case).
Also, if you read the comments, you will notice that most preschool programmes are a few hours a day, a few days a week. My son goes for 3 hours, for 4 morning a week. That is 12 hours a week that he is away from me and I hardly see that as someone else raising him …

Shea on

I keep my kids home until they have to be in school… We do dance classes, playgroups, gymboree, etc. but, I don’t leave them off at a preschool for hours at a time. I teach them at home and both my girls could read, write, add and subtract when they were 6 and started grade K (both were late in the year babies and missed the cut-off date to start school at age 5 yrs). My 13 year old is in advanced honors classes and I believe it’s because of the early instruction she was given at home.
I am currently expecting a baby again in Feb. and will do the same with this baby.

Gina on

I personally think the one way to better educate children these days is to have school start at age three. Potty trained or not. Children should be in a child friendly atmosphere and not sitting at home with their mom or some nanny in front of the TV all day. And yes I know that is not what all moms/nannys do but a majority do. And it would also help with the minority population to give children a head start in life.

ashley on

My son just started a 2 year old program at a playschool. It is 3 days a week for 3 hours. I do think that every child is different and every circumstance is different.

However, we chose to put him in school for several reasons. One, I felt he needed interaction. My town doesn’t have all the neat classes like gym and music groups. The only interaction he got was from storytime at the library. Secondly, I wanted him to be comfortable playing with and taking direction from adults other than his parents. Thirdly, he has some speech delays and I thought listening to other kids may encourage him to talk more. And lastly, I will be honest and say that I knew it would be a good time to do things like go to the gym, clean house and grocery shop. Apparently, some of you act as if that is selfish, but I think that every mom needs time to herself too. I spend every other waking moment with my son and we do not sit in front of the tv all day. We do school stuff at home; I use flashcards and fun learning activities to teach him. We sing and dance and do art projects. I don’t think we need to compartmentalize all moms who choose to send their children to preschool at an early age as being mothers who are looking for daycare.

Kelli on

I have a 2 year old son and he just started going to daycare in January. He goes 2 days a week and the other 3 days he is with his dad while I work. I took him to work with me up until January and I loved it. I’m a single mom and I get help from his dad. That is the main reason why I have not considered putting him in school. But I feel he is mature enough to go if I felt he could handle it.

Everyone’s opinion is different about the best age for your child. I’ll be going to graduate school full time in January and I will probably start to home school him a few days a week. But he’s only 2 so I don’t expect him to sit through long lessons (he’s very very active).

Christina on

The most important thing is quality of time with parents, not necessarily quantity. I was in day care, preschool, am and pm care, etc. from 6 weeks to 12 years old. 7am to 6pm every day. If you research the facilities and ensure they’re of good quality, third party care givers can be an excellent resource. That being said, I had dinner with my entire family almost every single night of my childhood.

seosinger on

“Children should be in a child friendly atmosphere and not sitting at home with their mom or some nanny in front of the TV all day. And yes I know that is not what all moms/nannys do but a majority do.”

Uh, Gina, I know about 7 or 8 other stay at home moms. None of them let thier kids watch much TV, and all of them engage their children in fun activities. I’d hardly call that a majority.

yogadaisy on

ha! I had to laugh at the watch tv comment as my children have never watched tv while they were home with me. I think maybe some guilty moms like to think that’s what stay-home moms do…

Christina, 7am to 6pm every day from age 6 weeks to 12 years?? Wow. I don’t mean this condescendingly at all but I feel sad hearing that. That had to be hard on many levels.

Molly on

Violet looks so sweet in her school clothes! I start preschool at her age (2.5) and LOVED it. I was a really shy kid, so my parents thought it would be good for me, and it was! (Also, my mother admits to wanting me out of the house for a few hours a week, haha. Can’t say as I blame her.)

Danielle on

My brother and sister went to school at age 2 and no it wasnt daycare. They are both autistic, have learning disabilities and went to school in order to learn basic skills; how to feed themself, etc. It helped them and they are both normal adults today.

mamaria on

To the lady who thinks she’s sendin her 9 month old to preschool…..honey, that’s called “day care”.

Maggie from LI, NY on

My son is 6 months-old and we go to music class together every week. He goes to nursery/school twice a week. That gives me time to take care of my new business. To me, it’s a great way to build his social skills, to play with other children and to learn from other people as well. I believe in the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Once a day my husband and I watch videos about different languages with him as a family. I think that it’s up to the parents how they want to educate their children. To me, it starts early. Introduce them to different things from infancy and see what happens. Children are very smart, parents just need to incite them to love learning.

phoebe on

In the UK, it’s very strange for a child not to go to playgroup and that’s from about 3 onwards. Nursery starts after that and almost all kids are involved in that. I think it’s vitally important for a child’s social development to spend time around other children like that, and to get some independance from their parent’s care. Simply dropping a child off into school at the age of five would be a massive shock to the system if they’ve never had that kind of group care in short bursts before. I wouldn’t dream of not putting my daughter into nursery (she does two mornings and two afternoons a week) as I know this is the best thing for her.

Patricia on

my kindergardener now started his Montessori based school at age 2.5. I’m glad I could afford it and woudn’t done anything different.

Danielle on

The children i nanny for most certainly do not sit in front of the tv all day, in fact they do not watch it at all with me during the week!
They socialize very well and my not quite 3 yr old is very kind and good at sharing with other children, better than a lot of day care children.
The best place for a child under 3 is with a loving carer preferably a parent but if not possible, a nanny or grandparent as a subsitute.
Nursery is a pretty new concept in the context of how long humans have been around, and we all have turned out socialble and fine. ;)

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