start preschool

When Should Your Child Start Preschool?

Did you know that, according to USA Facts, 46% of children between the ages of three and four have not been enrolled in a pre-primary program such as preschool or kindergarten as of 2018? This means that over half of children these ages have enrolled in some sort of pre-rimary program as of 2018.

If you’re thinking of joining this greater half of Americans and enrolling your child in a preschool program, you might be wondering: “When should my child start preschool?”

If you don’t have the answer to this question, you might be stressed about figuring out when is the right time for your child to attend preschool.

Fortunately, in this article, we’ll review when your child should start preschool in order for your child to experience the many benefits of preschool at the right age, preparing them for their future education and  life at the right time. Read on to learn more.

At What Age Should Your Child Start Preschool?

Part of why it can be confusing to know at what age your child should start preschool is that there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule about it. However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, preschoolers are defined as being between three and five years old.

When it comes to how preschool age is defined by preschools themselves, many will start accepting the enrollment of children starting at age three. Other preschools will start accepting children starting at age five.

So if you’re thinking of enrolling your child in a local preschool, you should call them up to find out at what age they start enrolling children.

At age five, many children start attending kindergarten, not preschool. However, depending on readiness level and when your child’s birthday is, they could be five and enrolled in a preschool program.

Preschool Versus Pre-K

While doing your research about when your child should be learning in preschool, you may have noticed that there are different options available through early childhood education centers. Many of them will offer preschool and pre-K. How do you know which one is right for your child?

Both Pre-K (also known as pre-kindergarten) and preschool provide education for children before kindergarten. However, they’re different when it comes to aim and age range.

Preschool is usually more focused on educating children who are developmentally younger. Sometimes, they might have children as young as two-and-a-half years old attending. The higher age range in preschool is usually around four-and-a-half.

As for the goals of preschool education, these usually include introducing children to numeracy and pre-reading skills, enriching their social skills, and familiarizing them with classroom instruction.

At Pre-K, on the other hand, children are usually four or five years old. Preschool focuses on school readiness, but in Pre-K, the goal is to do this more in-depth focusing on school related activities.

Pre-K education is focused on ensuring children are developmentally ready enough and prepared to be successful when they enter kindergarten.

How to Know Whether Your Child Is Ready to Start Preschool

Now that you know at what age most children are enrolled in preschool and how preschool compares to pre-K, you have a general idea of when your child should start preschool based on what age your child is. However, there are additional factors you have to consider.

Why? Preschool readiness isn’t just about age, it’s more about developmental factors.

You need to ensure that your child is socially, emotionally, and physically ready for preschool. In this section, we’ll cover how you can figure that out.

Social Development

Does your child have experience playing with other children? How much of it? Do they enjoy it and do they do it well? If your child still mostly enjoys parallel play and not imaginative play or play with others, they might not yet be ready for preschool.

Your child should know how to interact with other children and treat them before enrolling in preschool.

Separation Anxiety

However prepared your child might be when it comes to the knowledge required for preschool, they won’t be able to attend if their separation anxiety is too strong. Wait until your child is in a place where it’s easier to be away from you before enrolling them in preschool. Practice spending short amounts of time with adults and children other than parents can help to ease a child into preschool readiness.

Physical Development

Your child’s physical development is another factor to consider before you enroll them in preschool. Does your child have the gross motor skills required to play in the playground and the fine motor skills required to handle classroom materials?

If not, you should wait to enroll your child in preschool. While this is something they’ll learn in preschool, your child should at least be at the same or higher level than the one their peers would be at. Many preschools offer assessments to help parents determine readiness.


Some preschools might offer potty training for your child. However, others will require that your child be potty-trained before they attend. If your child isn’t yet potty-trained, you should check with the preschools near you if that’s acceptable before you enroll your child at one.

Necessity for Naps

If your child needs longer naps, such as ones that are two hours long, or frequent naps, they might not be ready developmentally for the activity level needed to attend preschool. Even though preschools often have naptime in their schedules, your child might not sleep as well there as they might at home.

Communication Skills

Is your child able to ask for help when they need it? Is your child easy to understand? It’s incredibly important that your child be able to communicate with classmates and ask for help if they need it. So if your child can’t do this yet, it’s best to wait to enroll them in preschool.

Need More Information?

Now that you’ve learned about when your child should start preschool, you might need additional information. Maybe you want to learn more about the importance of preschool and its benefits or you want to learn about ways you can prepare your child for preschool.

Whatever information you need, we can help. At Montessori School of Downtown, we’re experts when it comes to early childhood education.

We also offer a variety of programs for children aged zero to twelve. To learn more about our programs, check them out now.