When to Start Preschool?

What’s the best age for my child to start preschool?
ByCindy H. Liu, PhD, clinical and developmental psychologist, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Psychologist
Updated
Mar 2017
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Most preschools accept kids as young as age two and go through age six. But determining if and when your child should join them is sort of like asking what the “best” age is to get married or have a baby: It’s an individual decision, and there’s no single answer. There are a number of considerations to keep in mind.

First off, ask yourself why you are doing this. Is it because you want your child to get as much learning in as early as possible? Do you have a younger child in the house and want the older one to get some attention outside the home? Or do you just need a break? (By the way, that isn’t a bad thing.) Resolving these issues can help you decide if you want your child to start schooling outside the house sooner rather than later.

Maybe most important is your child’s own readiness. Is she okay with saying goodbye,  being away from you and being away from home? If she’s really anxious, you may be better off waiting a year or so until she’s more comfortable. In the meantime, you can enroll her in “mommy and me” classes.

Also, find out what the rules are. Some preschools have prerequisites, like being  potty trained and going without a midday nap. Remember, too, that your child will be in school soon enough, so it’s okay to wait a little bit and enjoy some extra time together before starting school.

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