Preschool Vs. Pre-K

Updated on August 26, 2008
J.A. asks from Newbury Park, CA
5 answers

My son will be starting preschool in September and he is 3 1/2 yrs old. My question is, next year, my son will be 4 1/2, and I am wondering if I should keep him in preschool another year until he is 5 1/2 or should I start him in Pre-K at that point? I guess I am just confused about what the difference between pre-k and preschool is. I would like to keep him in preschool until 5 1/2 but it is going to be really tight financially for us to do that. I had no idea how expensive preschool was! I was hoping some of you could shed some light on this subject for me. Thank you!!!

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answers from Los Angeles on

At the day care where I work, preschool is for 3 year olds, pre-k is for 4 year olds who will go to kinder the next year. Preschool introduces concepts but isn't as involved and less structured. Our pre-k programis more involved and preps the kids for kindergarten. Teaching them the proper way to write name, writing and identifying all letters and basic sounds. Writing and recognizing numbers. Cutting skills, colors, shapes, patterns, days of the week, months, etc. These days, pre-k is what kindergarten used to be when we were young.

Check with your son's future elementary school to see the start date of kinder for his birthday. have you talked to the preschool to see what the curriculum differences are and how the ages are divided?

As far as $$, how often is he going? Does he need to go full time due to you working? From my 11+ years of teaching, a 3 half day program with you and daddy working on things at home is more than enough to prep him for kinder when he is in per-k. He doesn't need to be in school all day at 3 or 4 if you can help it, so a short program would help in the pocketbook dept. Kids who don't attend preschool all the time (ex. 8am-5pm everyday) are much better behaved and actually have better social skills when homelife balances and integrates learning.

There are some head start pre-k programs you might be able to find that are low cost or free. You can also see if the school district offers any preschool classes. A lot of park and rec programs have preschool classes that are less money too. Our neighbor across the way went through park and rec preschool for 3 years and her mom helped as well. She is in the GATE program now. Don't think that he has to be in preschool in order to be ready for kinder. It's not the case at all.

Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

the school should be able to shed some lite on this subject. if you havent already spoken to them about the curiculum and his readiness for it...keep him in Preschool at 3
and put him in kindergarten readiness (preschool at 4)
I kept my Daughter in PRE-K4 for 2 years until I felt she was ready for the Next level. I could tell and the dr. said it was best for her too!



answers from San Diego on

Hi Jennifer, I don't think there is much of a difference unless the difference is the age of the children, to me pre school is pre kindergarden, it prepares them for kindergaten, for example I am a daycare provider, but I have a pre school curriculum and i do kindergarden rediness but i'm not a pre school, I would put him him kindergarden when he is 5, and keep him in preschol til then unless there's some younger moms out there who know the difference, can give you better advice. J. L.



answers from Los Angeles on

Could it be that you're asking whether he should be in pre-K or kindergarten next year? If he's turning 5 in the fall of 2009, then he's eligible for kindergarten next fall (exact cut-offs vary by school district).

My understanding is that there's no difference between preschool and pre-K, except that maybe preschool encompasses a wider range of years (around age 2-5) versus pre-K, which is generally the one year prior to kindergarten (around age 4-5).



answers from Honolulu on

Preschool is perfect for him now. It will get him "ready" for "school." It is less structured and usually more allowances are made for the children, because of their age.

Pre-K... when he is 4.5 years old is fine too. But I personally think, that 1 year of preschool is best, THEN put him in Pre-K or Kinder. Many times, a child will "outgrow" preschool at this age anyway.

Pre-K... is usually more structured and follows more of a "school" curriculum, and is located IN a "school." Pre-school on the other usually located within a "daycare" setting....So there are usually "younger" kids around, and it is more "baby-ish" in that sense.

I've noticed, (with my own child & her friends/classmates) that by the time they are 4 yrs. old & going on 5 yrs. old...there is a big jump in development and maturity and "need" for other stimuli. Thus, my feeling is that putting him in Pre-K at that point (when he is 4.5 yr. old) is more suitable.

In my case, my girl started Preschool when she just turned 4 years old. We had her in preschool for 1 year... then we put her in Kindergarten when she was just almost turning 5 years old. It was perfect for her.... she had had enough of Preschool and was "ready" for "school"... and by the time Preschool ended she was more than ready to start "formal" school, ie: Kindergarten. She even told us that she wanted to go to Kinder NOT another year of Preschool. Her Preschool teacher also said she is ready, and in her case, recommended Kinder for her at that point. In our case...BEFORE entry into "elementary school"...they assess all newly entering children... and for my daughter, she was allowed to go on to Kindergarten... versus "Pre-K."

Yes, having a child, who is ready, enter into Pre-K in public school is "cheaper." And yes, Preschool IS expensive.
The main thing is... your child. Don't go just by "age." Ask yourself AND the teachers IF your boy will be "ready" to go on to Pre-K, both in ability and maturity.

Also though, if next year he is 4.5 years old.... he MAY be able to go on to Kindergarten, versus Pre-K, depending on the birth-date cut-off rules in your area. Like in my daughter's case- My daughter is late born (October), and started Kinder when she was about 4 and 3/4 yrs. old, going on 5 yrs. old. (in our area a child has to be 5 yrs. old between August and December to enter Kindergarten). She adjusted perfectly fine... and had no problem in Kinder. She is now in 1st grade. For her, going to "Pre-K" would have been redundant, and a repeat, because her "Preschool" prepped them so well. Also emotionally and maturity wise, she was "ready." And for her, she didn't want to be in Pre-K or Preschool again... because she didn't want to be around younger kids/babies anymore. She told us this. She was just so excited about being in elementary school.

So think about your options... and your son's "readiness" and maturity.

On the other hand, I have friends who sent their child to another year of Preschool... at 5 yrs. old. By this time, it was mainly because the Parent was not "ready" to move their child on to Kindergarten or Pre-K.... even though the child WAS ready. Then, their child is now in Kindergarten at 5.5 yrs. old, turning 6 yrs. old soon. So it's up to you... some Parents feel that in their case, having their Child start Kinder at 6 yrs. old it better.

Yah, so confusing. But really, go by what you think is best and for your child as well.

Also though, the Preschool Teacher should make some recommendations, if you ask her/him. AND if entering into "Pre-K' in an ELEMENTARY school setting...they usually have assessments done for all newly entering children...THEN your child will be placed in the appropriate venue- ie: Pre-K/Junior-K, OR, Kindergarten.

Good luck!

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