When Do Kids Start Preschool? - Baby Chick
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When Do Kids Start Preschool?

Preschool can foster your child's development. Get answers about when do kids start preschool and find out which preschool fits them best.

Updated April 24, 2024

by Kiran Talvadkar

Early Childhood Special Education Teacher and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst

The thought of your child starting preschool can be both exciting and terrifying. While it marks a milestone in your child’s growth and development, it also involves a collision course of questions, worries, and wonders for you regarding your little one. We’re here to help answer some questions like when do kids start preschool and provide guidance on navigating this big step in their – and your — life.

What is Preschool?

Preschool can come in many forms, but preschool is an educational environment created to foster the growth and development of young children. Most preschools target many developmental domains, including social-emotional, cognitive, and motor development. They vary in their day length (half day, full day) as well as philosophies and methodologies, so you should research to determine which fits your child best. Some common preschool teaching philosophies include:

When Do Kids Start Preschool?

The age at which children start preschool can vary, but it is often between 2.5 and 3.5 years old, depending on the school.

How Do You Know When Kids Are Ready for Preschool?

But how do you know if your child is ready? That’s a tricky question. No child will be 100% “ready.” Even the most independent children might have trouble separating from you on the first day. And the most social of children might have trouble figuring out how to make friends when they start preschool.

However, you can generally look at where the child is. Some children are home with a caregiver, some are in daycare full-time, and some attend a social group twice a week with a parent. So, you can look at your child in their current environment and ask questions such as:

  • Is my child showing a desire to explore more in their current environment?
  • Are they seeking out social interactions more in their current environment?
  • Are they testing boundaries more in their current environment?

If it feels like they may be outgrowing their current environment, they might be ready to take on the challenge and exciting adventure of preschool!

What Do Kids Learn in Preschool?

The learning opportunities provided to children in a preschool classroom are endless. They learn how to play and how to navigate social interactions. Kids learn how to problem solve, and they work on fine motor skills such as using scissors, holding a marker, and how to zip up their coats. They also learn how to engage with books and make music. Most of all, they learn what school is!

What are the Benefits of Attending Preschool?

The benefits of preschool, like the learning opportunities provided, are endless. Preschool helps children grow socially and emotionally. It helps children learn what they like and dislike, self-advocacy, and how to be friends. One of the most significant benefits is that they learn how to navigate a learning environment, which helps prepare them to take on elementary school when the time comes.

Preparing Your Child for Preschool

Once you select a preschool, the next important step is to start to prepare them. Here are some tips.

See If Your Preschool Has an Open House

If the school doesn’t have an open house, ask if you can bring your child in before the start of the school year to see their classroom and maybe even meet their teacher. Removing some of the mystery helps ease children’s minds.

Involve Your Child in the Preparation

Have them pick out their backpack, lunch bag, etc., and give them choices/control when possible. For example, ask them if they want a ham or turkey sandwich for lunch at school. Even making the simplest choices gives a child a sense of control in a new and sometimes daunting situation.

Talk About Emotions

Ask them how they are feeling and talk about their emotions on their first day, whether they might be scared, excited, or happy.

Work On Fostering Self-Talk and Coping Skills

What can they tell themselves if they start to miss you? They can try, “I will always go home at the end of the day.” Have them practice taking deep breaths to help them engage in self-calming. Being proactive about teaching and practicing some of these strategies will help equip your child with emotional tools to take on new challenges they may experience.

Sending your child to preschool is scary, exciting, and a time filled with many emotions. Know that every child is unique, so remember to research and listen to your gut when determining if, when, and where to send your child to preschool. You’ve got this!

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Kiran Talvadkar
Kiran Talvadkar Early Childhood Special Education Teacher and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst
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Kiran Talvadkar is a preschool special education teacher, board-certified behavior analyst, and mom. Kiran received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, and her Master's from Teacher's College, Columbia… Read more

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