15 answers

Does My Child Need to Go to Preschool?

Hello everyone, my son will be 3 on September 29th. I am not quite sure where he is with his education level, compared to other boys his age. I am considering putting him in daycare, or preschool for a couple hours a day, for the education, and the enviroment change. But my husband thinks that it is too much money, and we have other things that need taking care of. So should I just do my homework a bit, and teach him at home? Or should I really look into this? I don't even know where to start! Thank you for all of your help, and comments!

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My son will be 3 on September 2 and we struggled with this decision too. After speaking to several other parents we decided not to bother with preschool this year. We have him involved with several activities with children his own age, so he is getting the social interaction he needs.

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I'm doing the same with my 3 year old son and using a Montessori approach. Check out the book "How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way" for some good ideas on activities. There also website with some online learning games, and there are just TONS of ways to teach a child at home in ways that are intriguing to the child. I think his learning experience will be much more enriching this way, plus it saves us money. Not only will he be learning, but also bonding with me. I was surprised to realize that most people I know consider preschool as a necessity these days. I never went to preschool and I excelled in school and always loved learning. I love spending time nurturing and teaching my children, and I'm putting off the time he's gone from me all day as long as possible. I may put him in preschool 2 mornings a week to ease the transition the year before Kindergarten and I will do everything I can to find a half-day Kindergarten.

I am a member of MOMS Club (www.momsclub.org to find your local chapter) and I really enjoy it, and it helps ease my concern over my son socializing and interacting with other children since he won't be attending preschool.

One more thing, an extremely similar "request" on mamasource was posted recently on August 12, 2008, so I suggest looking back in the archives to see the responses that mother received. http://www.mamasource.com/request/2182583617505460225

2 moms found this helpful

First off... happy soon-to-be birthday for Dillon!
Second... pre-school is such a personal issue. But here's my opinion. Your child is 2. Now is not the time to worry about education levels, but instead- development levels. You'll have many years to worry about education levels.
Many preschools require the child to be toilet trained. Additionally, since it is the beginning of the school year, many preschools are already filled. (When I put my then 4 YO in preschool, I signed her up in March to start school in August.) And yeah... preschool is expensive!
I started by teaching my kids the basics (as all parents do)... colors, shapes, etc. When my kids want to learn about something, then I'll teach it. I got lucky with my first and second children, as they have been very inquisitive... we'll see how it goes with my third. I didn't force them to learn anything, they learned at their own pace... and they learn what they want when they want. I didn't buy flashcards or anything for the main reason that I knew everything would get lost in my house. LOL But what they have on flashcards I can teach with objects in the house and outside. (You know, like- that leaf is green, the stop sign is red and is an octagon, how many animal crackers are on your plate? All the normal stuff that we parents already do.) If you want to do crafts to work on motor skills, then google "children crafts" and you'll come up with thousands of pages of ideas.
I believe that because I didn't "force" learning on my oldest, that is one reason why she has shown interest in reading, writing and math. My 5 YO can read simple books, can sound out words and write them down, and likes to play the "Number Game" with daddy, where he throws out a single-digit number and a double-digit number, and she adds them together. I think they also are working on subtracting.
Each parent will teach their child(ren) what best fits their family and lifestyle. This was the way that fit best with us. It may not fit for you, so you'll just have to see what does.
To socialize, I joined a MOMS Club. This way, my children have been able to play with kids their age, and I get some socializing in as well. It was also a heck of a lot cheaper... $23/year for MOMS Club dues as opposed to $180/month for the preschool my oldest attended.
Yes, I did put my oldest in preschool (#2 isn't toilet trained yet and is too young in my opinion, as she is only 2... and #3 is only 10 months old, so I have awhile with him.) But I put her in for the year before Kindergarten so she could play with other kids without me being present and to also get used to listening to another authority figure. I put her in for purely social reasons... it was a bonus that she learned other things.
Now... I'm not knockin' preschool. My daughter flourished there. Her social skills grew as did her vocabulary. But to me... let your kid be kid. He'll be growing up faster than you want him to grow.

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Here is some input from a different source. I am the mother of 5 23-12. I homeschooled my children until my oldest went to 8th grade. I now run a preschool called Little Blessings From Jesus in Apache Junction.

I don't believe you have to send your child to a preschool. There are somethings your child can learn that would be hard or at least less messy if they learned at a preschool. Home is not the easiest place to learn how to behave in a large group. Remember you are your child's best teacher. God gave each one to you. If you decide to put your child in a preschool look for one that is supportive of your role in your child's life.

Preschool is a fun and busy place. Children learn through play. They need to experience free choice and teacher directed activities; large and small motor skills; active and quiet times; social , emotional, language and cognitive skills. These are some of the areas a preschool actively concider in their planning for a day.

Another resource you might be interested in checking out is New Directions Institute for Infant Brain Development. they have classes that cover techinques to "wire up" a child's brain for a successful future. They have really done their research.

I hope this input will help you with your decision. My mom (mother of 7) always gather lots of information then put into practice what fits with your individual lifestyle and philosophy.

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Hi P.-
Don't worry about your son getting behind.
From a teacher's point of view, K kids all seem to start on different levels, and they are all very similiar in level by the end of the year.

Have fun with letters, numbers, and get some phonics stuff if you wish... just have him do a worksheet every day or so...
If you can't afford preschool, it will just put more stress on the finances and that's not worth it.

Before you know it he will be off to school... and then out of the nest :0)

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Hi P.,

I know that my advise is going to be contrary to almost everyone else who has responded so far, but since your asking people's opinions, here is mine: I think that around 3 is a good time to start preschool, even if its just on a part-time basis. There is a lot to be said for letting him just be little and he's got lots of school ahead of him and all that, but that being said, going from stay at home kiddo to kindergarten with out anything to prepare him ahead of time is a huge, huge adjustment. He's going to go from doing whatever he wants whenever he wants (with your approval of course) to having to follow a teacher's stricter schedule. In addition, he's going to have homework, have to listen to and work with several different teachers (p.e., music, k-teacher, etc). Going from preschool to kindergarten is a big change as it is (my son did that last year), but from home to kindergarten is bigger. Also, kids are information sponges at this age, so letting him go somepleace where the teachers can help him prepare for everything they are expected to know in kindergarten can only help him. While yes, kindergarten kids all do start at different levels and end up roughly the same place, but why make him start from the lowest level and have to work harder to get there, when you can give him a little head start. Now I am not suggesting breaking the bank to do this, of course, but if you can find a good part time place that you can afford, I think your child's educational success is one of the most important things you can invest in. I can recommend two places to check out, depending on where you live: in chandler Sunny Days Learning Center, the director is Cindy and she's very nice. In QC Shining Stars Learning Center, director Vickie, also very nice. Kyrene schools districts program also is wonderful, but it can have waiting lists, so if you are interested in that you should check it out soon. Good luck!

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I don't know where you live but the City of Chandler has a great recreation dept. They have a ton of choices for kids his age- art, music, dance/movement, etc. They also have a program called Apples to Zebras which is basically a preschool class. It is very reasonable- I think $100-120 per semester. If Chandler isn't close, check out your cities rec dept. I also agree with the previous responses that suggest MOMS. Another great way to let him play with other kids his age.

Good luck!

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That is a great question! I did not have to send my son to preschool, but I chose to send him starting at about the same age as your son. He went to a church preschool a couple days a week for a couple of hours. The following year he went three times a week for a couple of hours. They did lots of cool things for activities and crafts that I would have had a difficult time replicating at home, especially the visit from the buffalo!

Of course you do not have to send your child to preschool and there are lots of activities you can do at home (they have some great books and supplies at Lakeshore Learning or at most bookstores) that would give him the opportnity to experience some fun and educational time with you. If you would like to see how he would do with other children you can see if your church or a church in the area has a MOPS group that offers chilcare. Or just let him go to a Sunday school class. Both of those would offer opportunites for him to be around children and also "get a little change" of his own scenery with little or no cost.

It is great that you don't feel like you have to push him off into the world because you are workng full-time. Kids are only little for a few precious years and at your sons' ages they need you more than they need to know the alphabet! :)


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I, personally, believe that he gets all he needs from a stay-at-home-mom until he's about 4 or 4 1/2. You can teach him ABCs and 123s and shapes in an environment that he can totally trust. The year before kindergarten is the time to think about pre-school. You'll do great!

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My son will be 3 on September 2 and we struggled with this decision too. After speaking to several other parents we decided not to bother with preschool this year. We have him involved with several activities with children his own age, so he is getting the social interaction he needs.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello! I am a preschool teacher...my specialty: threes! I will tell you that your child does not "need" preschool at this age. Although we do teach colors, shapes, letter, and other concepts such as sorting, counting, etc., the most important concept learned in a good threes program is how to interact and play well with other children. If money is an issue, I would suggest a great MOMS program at a church or perhaps even setting up structured playgroups with friends. You could take turns hosting and include fun activities like finger painting or sensory activities. Don't be afraid to get messy! Most of all: play! Children learn so much when they are allowed to play with items such as menus, calculators, and other "real" items. Stay away from toys that basically tell your child how to play and eliminates his imagination. I think your child will be fine academically if you skip preschool for the three year old year. I would recommend some type of program for the fours only because kindergarten, these days, is very competetive. Good luck...hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

My suggestion would be to just let him be little. Once he goes to kindergarten then he will have at least 15 years of school ahead of him already. Give him a break and enjoy him at home while he's so young. He can learn the same things from you and have individual attention without spending all the money. Kids that age learn more from play anyhow. Find a play group if you are concerned about him socially. If that doesn't work there are classes he can take at the Rec centers that are cheap and a fun little break.

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my daughter went to preschool last year and this year I did not enroll her. It is a lot of money for a large playgroup. If you are worried about socilialization, then spend less money and get him involved in music, tumbling, parks and rec. I think my daughter is the only 3-yr old in ahwatukee that is not going to preschool. I am homeschooling using the montessori method and she goes to several other activities - they'll be in school soon enough, why rush it? I particularly enjoy reading the montessori info because they stress the importance of "work" meaning, children love to do "work" i.e. - helping you put dishes away, letting them dress themselved (no matter how long it takes), helping you clean, cook, etc. That is home schooling!!! If you add some lessons on math, phonics, some geography in a hand-on way, your son will be more than ready for school. good luck. It is hard in this atmosphere of get rid of your child as early as possible...they will be gone in a few short years!

check with your school district & have an evaluation done .... I think most districts have programs that are kind of similar to Kyrene. I LOVE Kyrene's preschool program. My almost 4 year old started last year after he turned 3. It's integrated, which means half of the kids are "typical" (on par for their development) and the other half have some developmental issues. Mine was accepted for Speech and Language development. All that are receiving developmental therapy attend for FREE. He absolutely loves it and so do we. He actually met his language goal last year, but he still has some articulation issues.

the preschool is for 3-5 year olds.....
and if you can get in for free, why not? It's a fab program....
AND... it's 2.5 hours/day for 3 days or 4 days

Putting a 3 year old in preschool is not a requirment, just a choice. Some places do offer a Pre-Pre-Kindergarten, but I'm not sure if your son will qualify, because of his birthdate. I just got a card from a "Ms. Amy's Lil Academy" - she offers classes for both 3 and 4 year olds and classes start the first week in September, so he'd have to be 3 before the start date. I have a daughter that's going to be in the same boat, since her birthday is in late November. Just wanted to give you a little head's up on that. But really, to answer your real question, it's totally your choice. Maybe put him in a day care situation for a couple of days a week to see how he does. Then next year, he'll be ready for preschool (and so will you)!

Hey P.,

The short answer is "No," you don't need to put your son into a pre-school. Nor do you need to "educate" him at home. If you want to put your child into pre-school, do it for the social aspects, not the educational ones. If pre-school is too expensive, hanging out with him and some friends his age should suffice for meeting the social goal. Really, though, flash cards and worksheets and concentrated "practicing" of any sort is entirely unnecessary for your son unless he loves doing those things. If you read to him and play with him and color with him and give him lots of love, that's all he needs right now. He's not going to be "behind" when he gets to kindergarten, even if you never put him into pre-school. If other children know things in kindergarten that your boy doesn't yet, rest assured that your boy will catch up fast. It's been researched and proven that, barring a learning disability, kids all know just about the same stuff by the time they reach seven years of age, regardless of their pre-school education status. If you want your boy to go to pre-school to have fun and meet kids, do it. But there are other ways to accomplish this besides enrolling him in a class. For the record, my background is in education, so I know whereof I speak.

Take care,

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