When to Start?

Hey gang! My old sharing post that I wrote for Circle of Moms/Pop Sugar a few years back has recently been shared again, and also shared on other sites, so all of a sudden I got this big boost of traffic and new followers. Welcome one and all, I’m so glad you’re here!

What I want to talk about today is if and when you sent your little ones off to preschool. I was recently criticized for the fact that Ferris will start preschool literally the day he turns 2. According to this person, there’s no need to send a 2 year old to preschool, and he’s “just too young. You shouldn’t do that.”

We didn’t start Bowie right away at age two, but he was only 2 1/2. His birthday is in May, so when the new school year began in August, he was 2 and 2 months old. We didn’t get a spot at that time, we got one in December, when he was fully 2 1/2. Honestly, it felt like he was developmentally light years away from where Ferris is right now, and will be in September (when he gets to start). But, Ferris has one of those early fall birthdays, we have a spot waiting for him, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Maybe it comes across as me just wanting to get rid of him for a few hours a day. Which, I’m not going to lie to you, is a part of it. But, this kid is really, really ready for preschool.

From what I’ve gathered from all the people I’ve talked to over the years who did not or will not send their children to preschool at all, people have two main visions of preschool.

Some people think it is school, as in where you sit at a desk and a teacher teaches and gives projects and maybe you’ll get a little playtime.

Others think it is more like a daycare. They go off to be taken care of by other people for the whole day, 6 to 8 hours, and there’s little to no emphasis on learning or development.

Our preschool isn’t like that. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of them out there. Ours is play-based, and there’s a bit of learning. That’s mostly for the older children (about to head to Kindergarten), but everyone has a dedicated music time, and stories are always read at snack time. The toys and games and activities chosen for the kids are also chosen to help them with specific types of learning and development for their age. Plus, they’re only there for 3 hours a day.

That’s why I’m ok with sending him there on his second birthday. He will love all the things there are to do there, and he will love the social aspect. But even after I explained all of this, that’s when I was told it’s just not necessary.

Of course it’s not necessary. I didn’t go to preschool. A lot of people my age didn’t go to preschool. But just because you don’t have to send your kids doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from it. And it doesn’t mean you’re slacking on your parenting. It just means you’ve chosen to send them to a place that has way more toys and games and activities than you could possibly ever have at your own house, and you’re allowing professionals to spend a few hours a day giving them some guidance.

All kids are different too. Maybe her kids (who are older now) weren’t ready when they were 2. And that’s ok! There have been kids at our preschool that just weren’t ready either. They will drop out of the program and wait a while, or maybe just decide preschool wasn’t for them and never come back. That’s just something we as parents need to evaluate. For our OWN children, not someone else’s.

What say you, readers? Did you send your child(ren) to preschool? How old were they? Did it work out? Would you choose to do it the same way again if you had it to do over again? Have you ever been criticized for sending your child “too soon”?

By the way, we go to a co-op preschool, where I have to work one day of the week. Until baby siblings are one year of age, they can tag along (in a baby carrier while you work). Here’s a picture of Ferris at school when he was about 10 months old. He’s going to LOVE it.

8 comments on “When to Start?

  1. I am a former preschool teacher, and my daughter started preschool at 15 months (when I started working there) and went all the way until Kindergarten, so I definitely think preschool is important. She loved it and has done phenomenally well in school since (she’s in 4th grade now). I think it gave her important skills both academic and social. Most preschools provide age appropriate groupings and activities, so each developmental level will be doing what’s right for them. My dilemma now is that I have my husband’s 2 little girls, who are 4 and 2, and I’m pushing for the 4 year old to start preschool this year, since it’s her last chance, and if she goes, her sister will too. The problem? Their mom wants to use school as a bargaining tool and has refused thus far to sign them up. I just worry that if the 4 year old doesn’t go this year, she’ll be at a disadvantage, for no good reason other than an adult acting like a child instead of putting the best interests of the kids first. I’m still holding out hope they will get to go!

  2. I am a mother of one he is 2 yrs old.I wanted him to start preschool this year but the schools around here don’t allow 2 yr old in the schools around here that young not until he is 3 yrs old…. Which is not fair because my son is very bright…. he knows his ABC’s ( out of order) He knows his 123’s to 12 he knows how to write his letters and he knows how to spell and say his own name… oh and he knows most of his shapes…. even with all that they wont let him in… But where I moved from he would be in school this year…..

  3. I am not from the US so I am not familiar with some terms. Here, most mothers start working, when their “birth/childcare leave” ends. And this is after 11 to 12 months after the birth. Children often go to public kindergarten, where they are put in groups of (I think) 8-10 with 2 teachers being there for most of the time or 1 at the beggining or ending of the day. Kindergarten is open from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. No one questions the decision to put a child in the kindergarten, because it is very usual, normal and often beneficial to children. Some mothers decide to stay at home, but usually until children turn 3, then they also go to kindergarten. Since public kindergartens are very full, some parents put their children to private kindergartens or day care. Both public (you also have to pay for it, but you have different payment classes according to your income) and private kindergartens follow the law regarding curriculum and all the competences a child needs to gain there. They play a lot, do different projects together and they also learn – through games.
    This is why I don’t see a problem in sending your child to preeschool at 2. Here the child would usually be there for a year allready ;). We also don’t differentiate kindrgarten from preeschool, kindergarten is for children from 1 to 5/6, then from 6 to 14 primary school, and from 14/15 to 18/19 high school.

  4. My daughter started Mother’s Day Out at our church’s preschool at 10 months, but I pulled her out because she was the only one in the class who was not completely walking yet, so she spent most of her time crawling around and putting everything in her mouth. I held her out until the next fall and put her in the 2 year old class. It was 9-12, or until 2pm if I wanted to send her lunch box and have her take a nap there. We opted for 2 days a week, 9-2. She loved it, I got all my errairun without dragging her with me, and she still took a nap again when we got home after school! She went 3 days at age 3, and at age 4 and 5, she was there five days a week, but only until 2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It made the transition to “Real” kindergarten and elementary school so much easier, because she was used to the routine, to being around other kids, and to a teacher other than Mommy. We found when we moved to regular school after preschool that the children who had not attended preschool had meltdowns at the long days, at being left NY their parents, at the very alien lunchroom…. The list goes on. The earlier children adjust to being with other people, the healthier that school transition is. If you have the means to do so, I think it is in your child’s best interest to have them in preschool when possible. My only complaint is with the parents who bring their child who is sick, rather than keeping the child at home.

  5. I have three children and only one, the youngest, went to preschool. With the two older ones I was a stay-at-home mom with in in-home daycare. With the youngest, I was a single mom to three young children who needed first to get some extra education and, second, to get a job. And, by age three, he was beyond ready with his need for extra socialization to go to preschool None of the kids did any better or any worse during elementary, middle and high school. No one knows our own children better than we do. So don’t worry about what your decision is, it’s a good one.

  6. My son started preschool at age 3. He goes to a Montessori (which I wanted in large part to my own awesome experience at a Montessori preschool). The school we wanted to send him to only offers a 5-day program, and it’s 8:30-1:00. So I got some flak from people for sending my 3-year-old to school for 22.5 hours a week. Of course, I knew he would love it and he thrived! The school’s minimum age is 2 years 9 months, so my daughter could start in mid-February, or she could wait until Fall. We haven’t decided what we’ll do, but when I dropped her brother off for summer camp at school last week we walked into the classroom and she asked “where’s my lunchbox?” Yeah, she’s just counting down the days. (She’s 2 years and 2 months now.)

  7. I remember reading your article a couple years ago at “Sunny Skyz” which I just happened to stumble upon, and really enjoyed the truth in it! I shared it on Facebook then, and Facebook reminded me of it when I logged on this morning.

    I subsequently looked at your “Very Bloggy” blog and discovered
    a) that you are quite young and so I was even more impressed with your Sharing article as young people today seem to be all about equality and fairness which in reality is not possible and is not really desirable as evidenced in socialist societies and countries where these ideas have been enforced and failed, and
    b) that you write about many interesting things, and
    c) that you live in Tucson where we used to live! I hope you truly enjoy it as I did.

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