17 answers

Do You Think 3 Year Old Preschool Is Important?

My husband and I have been discussing preschools. After looking into them (mainly the cost) My husband feels it might not be necessary for our son to attend. I think he would benefit greatly from the social and academic aspects. Just trying to get a feel for what other moms think. Would you or did you send your child to 3 and 4 year old Preschool? Did you skip Preschool altogether and just wait until Kdg.?
Thanks so much for your opinions on this,

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Thank you all SO MUCH for your opinions on this. We will think about everything that you all said. Your advice and opinions will certianly help us make a decision on what to do. You have made some great points...both for attending and not needing to attend. I can't thank you all enough for taking the time to respond to my question...I really do appreciate it!

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I think you could skip the 3 year old program and just send him to a 4 year old program next year! To me a 3 program is just about play time and the 4 program they do more work.

It depends on the education he is going to get elsewhere. If he is going to learn at home/childcare then skip pre-school. If not, then pre-school.

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As a former pre-school teacher for a large school district, yes I think both 3 and 4 year old preschool is important. With that said though, you know your child and you have to decide what your goals are as far as the program/school you choose. If your focus is academics then yes you can probably, teach him lots of things at home as his mother you are qualified. If your goal is socialization, then an outside the home program is probably best. Also, when considering programs/schools remember that play is how children learn and socialize at this age so don't look at playtime/center time as a negative. Just make sure you feel all aspects are cohesive and the teacher is able to tell you why she is doing something. Finally, if cost is a factor, some churches and YMCA's have programs that are not that costly in comparison
to other options. Also, at 3 he doesn't need to go every day in my opinion so look for half day or 2 or 3 day programs. If you can't find a program you like with the school year approaching maybe you can take him to a music class where he can start practicing some of the social skills like sharing,turn taking and listening to directions. I think outside the home experiences are huge in how children eventually behave at school.

One more finally, you may also want to check out how "competetive"/academic the kindergarten is that you plan on sending your children too. Unfortunately, although I hugely disagree, a lot of things are being push down grades and kindergarten doesn't look quite like it use to.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

It depends on the education he is going to get elsewhere. If he is going to learn at home/childcare then skip pre-school. If not, then pre-school.

You can teach your child the preschool skills on your own. It does make life more difficult. There are affordable preschools out there that are only 2 days a week 2 - 2 1/2 hrs. I do think its worth it but if you absolutely can't afford it then you can get the preschool books and do it at home. If you know other moms you can even set it up with others so they get the social part too.

So yes preschool at 3 and 4 I feel is important, however, I think you can do it with other moms if you wish. Seriously, it doesn't save much money because you spend that money or more getting all the supplies you need/want! :0)

I think it depends on your child and the cost. My husband and I looked into a 3 yr old preschool for our daughter two years ago. The first was a private school: play based, 3 days per week for 2 hours, and nearly $1000.00! Academically, our daughter didn't need, what seemed to us, a glorified daycare at that cost. I was, howvere, able to get her into the 3yr pre-k at Portage Park. We paid $50 and a few supplies. While she knew her basics, ABC's-identifying both upper and lower case, counting to 20 and also identifying, she learned alot of things I wouldn't have thought to teach. She learned about the human body, good nutrition/hygeine, animals, fish--basically alot of things you discuss and do in practice, but never formally teach. The best part though was the social aspect. She is shy around other kids, the pre-k helped her become comfortable around other children and expressing herself. She starts kindergarten in a month. =0)

My son will, unfortunately, not get to attend pre-k 3 or 4. We moved out of Chicago where all the pre schools are private and pricey. I would be concerned ,but my son is great with other children despite being out of childcare since 12 months. So, knowing the guidelines for kindergarten, I have opted to teach him at home and have him ready to excel in kindergarten in two years. Good luck with whichever route you choose. I'm sure he will go great in kindergarten either way. =0)

My daughter will be four in December and we have decided to skip preschool this year and just send her for one year. The cost was our main motivation, but I also took into account the fact that I work with her a lot at home and my husband and I didn't feel it would be completely necessary right now. I do think it is important for children to learn how to follow direction and take turns at an early age and I have had my daughter in a class at the park district since she was a year old, which helps with exactly that. As for the socialization aspect of it -as long as you have your son involved in other things and is involved with other children then he is getting the socialization he needs. I have my daughter in a Tumbling class and we are very active in our playgroup. I do know quite a few people who decide to enroll their children in "pre-K" and skip the one year of preschool so you definitely would not be alone if that is what you decide to do. :-)


What a fun age!
I'm a teacher and have taught at all levels including pre-school.

Take my thoughts for what they're worth:

#1- Three year old preschool is good for a child who is not around other children their age much, or even around other unfarmilar adults. It is great for them socially!

#2- If you do some, even just a bit, of work with your child on skills such as letters, numbers, counting, colors, calendar, cutting, singing silly songs, holding a pencil, painting, playdough, etc. your child is being exposed to the same things they would be exposed to in pre-school.

I'm having my first baby in Sept. and am not teaching this year and plan to stay at home in the future. I, personally, will not feel obligated to send my three year old to preschool. When my child turns four, I would like them to get some "school" experience. Kindergarten at most schools expects kids to know letters, numbers, counting etc, so I do recommend sending your child next year. Four year old pre-school will give your child a slight advantage over a child who didn't attend. I taught kindergarten last year and could notice an obvious difference(academically and socially) in the children who did not attend a four year old pre-school.

Any questions, let me know! I loved teaching and will really miss it. Don't forget that at this age, so much depends on your child, their personality, etc. and what they're exposed to at home and in other social settings.

Yes, I think it's important. If you can afford to send him, then try to find a 2-3 day program that is mainly play based currculum. Most park districts offer something, as well as many churches.

My daughter loved preschool at 3 years old (April birthday) and she was so ready for it. She enjoyed it socially and semi-academically...she learned a lot at home. My son at three ( and three years difference from his sister-May birthday), however, had excellent large and small motor skills and delayed communication skills (my daughter did all the talking for him!) and, because of that, I chose to have "preschool" at home - weekly field trips, structured learning for 1 or 2 days and library/park district programs so that he had the social interaction. I never wanted anyone to stifle my son's communication - it was hard to understand him. By four, he definitely had advanced in his speech. So... it depends on your son and the situation. There's so much you can do on your own and with my daughter I enjoyed the mornings that she had school. Good luck!

My husband and I have been having the same discussion. He grew up in the country in WI and didn't go to preschool. He thinks that is just fine, but being a former elementary school teacher I disagree. Our oldest is special needs, so he has been going to preschool through our school district since the day he turned 3. He will be 5 in October and will still be attending that preschool for one more year.(Late birthday) Our second son will be 4 in October. We are going to wait one more year before sending him to preschool because we just can't afford two years. I work with the kids at home, so academically they'll be ready, and we've been doing some classes through the park district for socialization, so I don't feel too bad about only doing one year of preschool even though I would prefer two years.

I think it's very important for many aspects, socialization and learning to listen to an adult besides mom & dad being two of them. At least one year before kindergarten is good but in your situation, you would have one to one time with your little one. I started taking our daughter to mommy & me preschool with the park district, then by herself two days per week and last year five days, 2.5 hrs. each day. This year, she will start kindergarten. Just our experience.

Hi T. - Just putting in my two cents. I've decided to home-school my daughter this year (she's 4) and put her into Kindergarten next year. I'm doing this for two reasons: 1)She's very intelligent and, in my opinion, very advanced in her reading, writing, social, memory, and math skills. In addition, she misbehaves if she gets too bored. So I think I can do a lot more for her one on one this year. 2) I always have her enrolled in classes outside the home - art classes, dance classes, music classes, swimming, ect.... So she is not home with me 24/7 - she LOVES being around other children (which most kids her age do.) So my husband and I felt that as long as she still has that social interaction a few times a week, it's ok to school her at home. I really don't think that a formal pre-school for 3 is necessary. I know many people would argue with me. But you need to do what is right for your son. And if you take the time and give him lots of attention and learning at home and you take him out to places where he can play with other children, then I would say it's completely fine to skip pre-school. I don't know if you work full-time or not, but if you do and you can't be with him during the day, then maybe pre-school would be a better choice. But I'm one of those real old-fashioned gals and I just love being home with my kids :) They just grow up so fast in once they are in school, that's it. Then it's like you have half days with them. Again, you have to do what's right for you. So don't let anyone tell you that you SHOULD or should NOT put your son in school. As long as you're a loving mom (which you are), you'll make the right decision :) There are positives and negatives on both sides of the equation. But if you are a stay at home mom, I would just take advantage of it.
Best Wishes!

So I'll admit I'm kind of a neurotic freak about this but I'm already looking for preschools for my 1 1/2 year old. Of course, he won't go until he is 3 1/2 but I want to make sure a find a great preschool for him.

Each family is different and has differing needs. I'll tell you why my son will definitely be attending preschool, but just because it is appropriate for our family does not mean that is what every family should do.

In the right setting, a preschool will help your child 'get used' to what to expect in kindergarten/school. It can be as simple as instructions (get in a circle for reading time and listen quietly and patiently while the story is read, taking turns, sharing, raising your hand, etc.) that help your child make the adjustment to kindergarten. Also, in the right setting, there is a nice balance between learning and playing. Kindergarten is much different than when we went, and in some cases kids are now expected to know certain things when they arrive (colors, letters, numbers, shapes, etc). Also, if you are a SAHM and your children have not been 'away' from you for a morning or a period of time, I really do think it would help to ease the transition. Some preschools are 3 days a week and can help lessen the anxiety for some children. Imagine staying at home with mom all day long, only to turn 5 and have to go to kindergarten (and in some cases, full day!). Yes, some children would be resilient and do just fine but for others I imagine it would be a big adjustment.

I don't think preschool should be for your child to 'get ahead' of others and have wild dreams of becoming a physician, lawyer, nobel peace prize winner...but I do think preschool helps to build a great foundation of what could be expected when the child enters kindergarten. If anything, the socialization is great.

I'm sure you'll get lots of responses from many different viewpoints. Also, I'm sure that there are many children who skipped preschool altogether and did amazingly well once they entered kindergarten. Read all the advice, take them into consideration, then make a decision based upon what's best for YOUR child and family. Good luck to you!

I sent my kids to preschool at 4 yrs of age, mainly so they would have others to interact with. I know many people that do nothing until kindergarten but do teach some basics at home. I sent mine to a catholic preschool. My niece goes to a public school in Chicago for preschool/headstart. She started at 3 yrs. If money is an issue, check out the public schools to see if it is offered.

I don't feel 3 year old preschool is necessary, but it is very useful. I sent my oldest to 3 & 4 year old preschool for the socialization aspect. My oldest is shy when around her peers, especially if they are very loud or aggressive. She will be starting kindergarten in August and I couldn't imagine throwing her into five days a week without having gone to preschool first. From an educational aspect, I don't think they taught her anything that I hadn't already or couldn't myself, but they did make it much more interesting and fun. They also get exposed to more ideas than I probably would have thought of and reinforce things that you may already be telling your son, like stranger danger or brushing your teeth. Sometimes it helps to hear it from someone other than Mom. My daughters birthday is also in August, so she is one of the youngest in the class and I think any extra education is helpful for her. Kids are such sponges at that age and are so eager to learn. Is it an absolute must? Probably not, but your son might be behind the other kids in kindergarten. From what the principle said at the orientation was that kids who have not attended preschool catch up pretty fast, if not they would go to all day kindergarten.

I forgot to add, if you and your husband both work, preschool is tax deductible. Since it is not required, for tax purposes it is looked at as daycare.

Are you a SAHM? I know there's a west side homeschooling organization that has a homeschool preschool group and they probably do some group activities. If I can find their information I'll email you with it, or you could do some searching around. Can't remember the name of the group.

I do think some kind of group activity is a good thing, even if it's only a couple of mornings a week through the park district. It doesn't have to be a super-expensive option.

Also, check with your school district. The state of Illinois gives districts funds for preschool/preK and it's sometimes not all that well advertised. The districts can decide the criteria for enrollment. So for example, here in Oak Park, many things could qualify a child - like a recent birth of a sibling, a job change, or a move. I believe Naperville has a similar program. In other districts it may be needs-based.

There are alot of factors to base your decision on. For my now 6 y.o, I sent her to 3 and 4 year old preschool because she was ready to get out of the house, I had a new one at home that I figured would give me some one on one time with him, and basically she was just ready to learn. Now with my 3 y.o son, we are waiting because he has no interest in going to school or any classes, so I don't want to waste the money and make him miserable if all he wants to do is come home. But he will go to 4 year preschool because I think there is a big advantage for the kids who go to preschool compared to those that don't...especially now adays when in kindergarten they are learning to read, start learning to tell time and the value of money, etc.


I think you could skip the 3 year old program and just send him to a 4 year old program next year! To me a 3 program is just about play time and the 4 program they do more work.

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