What age should a child go to preschool?

Anne Halsall March 29, 2019

Parents usually put a lot of thought into whether or not to send their children to preschool. But, once they decide that preschool is the right option for their families, they need to decide at what age children should begin preschool.

The answer isn’t so straightforward. There’s a few factors that contribute to deciding what age a child should attend preschool. 


Preschools often have a minimum age requirement

Typically preschools accept children starting at three years old, although some schools accept children as young as two years old or even infants in a pre-preschool program. Parents, of course, have the option to send their children to preschool as soon as they reach the minimum age, if the kids have mastered the preschool’s required basic skills, but parents can opt out of preschool if they feel their children aren’t quite ready. 

Children attending preschool need to have mastered basic skills

Children need to be old enough to have learned basic skills in order to succeed at preschool. For example, many preschools strongly encourage or even require that kids are potty-trained and display other independent skills, such as washing hands and eating by themselves. 

It’s important to check a prospective school’s daily schedule. If a child naps twice a day or naps for two hours each day and a school only offers one hour of nap time in the afternoon, that child may not have the stamina for preschool yet.

If children do not display adequate readiness for preschool, then it may be beneficial for them to wait another year, no matter their ages.

Some schools require specific preschool experience

For parents who have specific schools in mind for their children, it’s important to understand what those future schools require for admission. Some programs require kids to start preschool at two years old and it may be hard to get an open spot the next year as they give preference to children already in their program. In that case, it’s important parents follow the guidelines and enroll their children in preschool at the required age. Check Winnie's preschool search to see what age the preschools you’re interested in start at.

Preschool is a place for learning new things

Preschool is a place for children to learn new social, emotional, and academic skills. Children do not need to be experts in any of these areas and they need not have experience separating from their parents. It is important, however, that children have conquered basic independent tasks and have the stamina for preschool hours. Children should attend preschool when they display these signs of readiness.

All these factors combined, it's ultimately up to the parents to determine at what age their child should go to preschool. Whether or not a child is ready for preschool isn't necessarily a specific age but also tied to their abilities and personal readiness. 


Anne Halsall

Anne Halsall

Anne Halsall is the Chief Product Officer (CPO) and co-founder of Winnie. Anne is a product designer & developer with a background in knowledge systems & consumer technology. She has two boys and resides in San Francisco.

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