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The Right Age for Preschool

Little children learn and grow so quickly and at their own pace. You hear the term thrown about, but what is preschool age? Is it the same for every child? And when do kids transition from preschool age to pre-k age? Are there advantages to putting them into a school environment early, or should you wait? Here, we will answer some of the questions you have about preschool, pre-k, ages, and stages of child development.

What is Considered  Preschool Age?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the preschool age range is between three and five years old. However, this doesn’t mean that children must be enrolled in preschool at that time. Some preschools will admit children who are three years old, while others will not enroll children until they are four years old, and some preschools take children as young as 18 months. Most kindergarten programs start at age five, but some five year olds are still in preschool, depending on their birthdays and other factors. Preschool is typically considered the two years before kindergarten, but ultimately, each family must decide what age for preschool is right for the individual child.

Is Earlier Better?

A preschool environment is beneficial for children, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. Some families need full-time daycare, others simply want part-time preschool leading up to pre k, and others find that a combination of daycare and preschool works best for their family. Preschool is not mandatory, but it does provide opportunities for intellectual, emotional, and social growth, which is particularly important for children who have never been in a group environment or have been with parents or one caregiver since birth.

Is My Child Ready for Preschool?

Preschool ages are not set in stone, and age is not the only factor to consider when thinking about preschool. Children mature at different rates of speed, and it’s perfectly normal for children to differ in their readiness for preschool. It can be helpful to discuss your child’s readiness with your pediatrician if you have concerns. Here are some things to consider in order to determine when your child is ready for preschool, though it’s important to note that some children develop these skills while already attending preschool.

  • Is your child potty trained? While public preschools and Head Start programs cannot turn a child away for lack of potty training, many preschools do require children to be potty trained before attending.
  • Does your child still need naps? Preschools often have time built into the schedule, but children who still need long naps can have difficulty adjusting.
  • Can your little one effectively communicate? Of course, children who are not neurotypical or have delayed speech and language skills may not be able to communicate well with adults and their peers, so this is not required. In fact, for some children, the development of these skills happens at preschool. However, it is helpful for preschoolers o be able to express their needs to their teachers and communicate with their peers, whether verbally or with signing.
  • Does your child follow simple directions? Preschool teachers are very good at getting children to follow directions, but it’s important to make sure your child has some experience following directions before attending preschool.
  • How does your child do with transitions? Preschools are full of transitions. In fact, they make up about 60 percent of a preschooler’s day! Some children struggle with moving from circle time to center time, from center time to clean up, from inside to outside, lunch time to rest time, and so on. While preschoolers are not likely to handle transitions perfectly when they enter preschool, it’s wise to practice transitions with your little one ahead of time.
  • Is your child capable of simple self-care? Teachers will not be able to give the hands-on assistance that a parent would, so your preschooler should be able to do a few simple things, like putting on shoes and a coat, and managing zippers and other fastenings.
  • Does your child have experience playing with other children? Social skills will be developed and strengthened at preschool, but it’s important to provide opportunities for peer interaction ahead of enrolling your child in preschool.

Quality Care, From Preschool to After School

When you’re looking for high quality childcare, trust Just Children to care for your little ones. Founded in 1983, our family-owned, fully-licensed centers provide a unique learning environment where we help children build the skills they need to succeed in life. Our year-round programs in Bucks County, Philadelphia, and New Jersey are convenient for working parents, and we design every program with age-appropriate activities that allow kids to learn, grow, and explore. We’re dedicated to creating a worry-free experience for parents while enriching the lives of children and providing a safe, nurturing environment with the highest standards of care, creativity, and learning. Visit our website to find a location convenient to you, or contact us to ask questions or schedule a tour.

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