When Should 3 Year Old Start Pre School

Updated on March 26, 2009
L.W. asks from Mount Pleasant, PA
7 answers

Hello I have a 3 year old daughter she is really smart for her age sometimes to smart. I was wondering when is it a good time to start them in a pre school. My only problem is with her is she does not like to be left alone some where with out me there unless it is family.I have been home with her the past three years so she has been around me 24/7. I can undersatnd their fear of being some where with people she does not know and mommy and daddy not there.But how do you get over this hump. She will not start kindergarden until she is 6 cause the way her bithday is. Any advice would be great.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi L.. You can start pre-school whenever you are comfortable with the idea. Maybe you should start with a local "mommies day out" program once or twice a week for an hour or two just to see how she does. Seperation is hard the first few times... But here are a few suggestions to make it easier in the long run for both of you.
1. Tell her when, where and how long you will be going/gone. Each and everytime.
2. Never be late returning.
3. Don't drag out good-byes (be calm, firm, and positive).
4. Don't be surprised if she starts to cry just keep going out the door (cry in the car if you have to, but don't let her see that you are upset!).
5. Once you start on a routine don't quit. She will adjust, and have fun once she gets used to a program and the people and it may take time for her to settle in.
Good luck and best wishes.



answers from Allentown on

depends on the child. my daughter started just shy of her 3rd b-day & went for 3 years (she had an older brother going to kindergarten & she wanted to go to school too). did she need that extra year of preschool? no! but she enjoyed it. (my daughter has a fall birthday and missed the school cut-off).

if you do decide to do preschool, I would recommend finding a school that has different program/curriculum for all three years, my daughter went to a 3 year old class, than 4 year old, then pre-k.

our church also had a co-op program which is a good way to get to know other parents in the area & work on separation issues. you could also try Sunday school at a a church next year depending on your religious beliefs. It's "school" only one day a week!

good luck!



answers from Philadelphia on

You can start preschool as early as 2. My daughter started preschool this year at the age of two in a school that she goes to for two hours two days a week. I think that its a great way to transition into school. Perhaps you could try putting her in a summer program for just a short period of time just a few days a week. In my experience with both my daughter and watching children, most of the time they will be fine once you leave. I hope this helps.



answers from Philadelphia on


This is a very personal decision, with no right or wrong answers. My children started at age 2, 2 mornings a week, 2 1/2 hrs each morning; it was fantastic for them, and if I had to do it all over again, I would.

Preschool is not about academics (some are, but I would stay away from those "push down academics" situations) but about social skills and development.

Your daughter gets to be at home with you, which is wonderful; preschool meets other needs, and you probably can find one where you don't have to send your child too many hours a week, if you want.

As for not wanting to be left alone unless it is family, this is all part of the learning experiences of a child (and of her mom!). When my daughter started preschool, she just said "Bye, Mommy! See you later!" when I was trying to figure out how to tell her I was leaving! That is not the norm, though. Many kids cry at drop off for a few days, and then, one day, they just don't cry and can't get into their preschool classes fast enough! My son cried the first few times I dropped him off...sometimes because he saw other kids crying...but even so, from the very first day, he told me he couldn't wait to go back!

My kids went to an amazing preschool, so nurturing and so aimed at social skills and so not into the academics.

I have very bright children who are in gifted support, but I was very careful not to send them to a place that emphasized academics. That's what kindergarten/elementary school is for, as far as I'm concerned! I gave them those "academic" skills at home when they were of preschool age--reading street signs, doing basic math as we walked down the street and saw things, writing the alphabet, etc.--and I never saw the need to have a preschool teach these things to my child.

The kindergarten teacher that both my kids had at public school once told me that she likes to get the kids from our preschool because they come in with such great social skills. That's what it's all about!

If you do look for a preschool, look for one that feels really good to you, of course! Look at the artwork on the wall, too. Is it too perfect to have been created 100% by the kids? If so, I might not want that teacher.... a preschool director once said that to me, and as I took her advice and looked at the art work, I could see a difference in teacher styles, even within the same school.

My son is 10 and some of his very best friends still are ones he met when he was 2 years old. They are almost like family. He has never spent a day with them in public school, but they still attend each others’ birthday parties, get together on weekends, etc. They formed such strong bonds…all the way back when they were 2 and 3 years old!

Good luck!

(Oh, depending on the preschool, and on your child, it may feel better to start your child in the preschool's camp program. Our preschool's summer camp program is very different from the school year program, and I did start my daughter in the camp.)



answers from Erie on

Excellent advice already!,
I sent my son at 3 years and one month. I wish i would have waited. He has a late july birthday and by age 4 i had decided to have him go to kindergarten at age 6. That meant that he had 3 years of preschool instead of just two. Our situation was such that the first two years where in an excellent creative, hands on center, and this last year was in a more standard, run of the mill preschool. In both places he while he enjoyed it and was well behaved, i can see that school lost some of it's shine at having done this several times already.
I think at 3, story time at the library, morning classes at the zoo, sunday school or something should be enough to stimulate her, and get her involved with other kids. most sports like soccer, gymnastics, dance start at age 3 that might give her the chance to separate from you but only for an hour a week instead of two+ hours two days a week. plus the groups are generally smaller.

It's tough,i'm not outgoing. I thought that sending my son to preschool would mean tons of playdates and loads of new friends. Even when i put myself out there, most people have other commitments or Their personalities were friendly but not come on over and have coffee friendly.

Plus if she is a young three emotionally, she might be better having another year at home with you to mature.

I didn't check your area, but what you could do as a compromise is find a Mommy and Me type class, that you can attend with her so she gets used to school but has you there as a support. I know our church preschool has one. You'd have to check around. I would talk to the teacher too since they maybe more 2 year olds, but i'm not sure. EVen if they were your daughter might really get a kick out of being the big girl in the group.

Hey, good luck, What ever decision you make really will be fine.



answers from Pittsburgh on

HI L.,
I know that for the nursery school my son went to, they had to be 3 and potty trained before they were accepted. It was a small church-run school with small class size. If she is potty trained, I'm sure she'd love it.
I was too at home with my son and I do think that in the end it was worse for me than for him! It was only 2 mornings per week, so it was a great way to test it out for both of us. He cried for the first three or four classes but after that he was fine. And I got over it too! You kind of just have to bite the bullet and do it. If she really hates it, you can always take her out. A child in my son's class was just too upset for too long and they figured it wasn't worth the stress. Good luck, Mom!



answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't think there is any one right answer for this question. The reasons a parent might send a child to preschool as well as the individual needs and personality of each child differ greatly. Having said that, I'll tell you what I did. I have 2 kids who are 14 months apart. I was going to send my kids to preschool at age 3 to develop social skills. I felt they would benefit from being with kids their age and other adults. However, my son got very ill so I didn't send him until this past September when he was 4. I then decided not to send my daughter this year (she is 3) so I could spend some one-on-one time with her. She will be 4 in the summer and I will send her in September.

As far as how to get past your daughter not wanting to be without you or members of your family, I think you just have to decide to do it. Most teachers of young kids are very nurturing and can help the child adjust. It may take some time, though. The school year is almost over and my son still holds my hand tightly as I walk him down the hall to his classroom. Once he gets settled in and started on his activities he is fine. If you need a more gradual approach, maybe hire a babysitter or mother's helper to play with her while you do work around the house in rooms where they aren't playing. Eventually work up to leaving your daughter with the sitter while you run errands or go to appointments. Whatever method you choose, don't make a big deal out of leaving. Keep it short. If you make a big, long fuss over her she is likely to reciprocate, making the separation more difficult. Good luck with your decision.

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