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Should my Child Attend Preschool?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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Determining whether your child should attend preschool is a very personal and important issue. Many children who attend preschool do show better readiness to attend kindergarten, and from grades K-4, are more likely to be successful in the traditional school environment. These achievements tend to level off from grade four on, and children who have not attended preschool may be equally as adept as their peers from that point forward. Preschool success or value also depends upon the quality of the preschool, the readiness of your child, and your ability to afford a preschool program.

In the US there has been a significant push toward allowing all children access to preschool, and some states have passed measures for universal preschool. These programs are not always met favorably by parents, who may feel that their children are more likely to learn at home in a supportive environment. On the other hand, parents who must work, or who want their children to have broader social and interactive opportunities are often grateful that preschooling programs have been established for their kids. It’s really a matter of perspective; not all home environments are equally capable of providing the best start for kids.

Part of this push toward school prior to kindergarten has been the rising standards of what must be taught in the kindergarten environment. Children who do not attend preschool and are experiencing their first separation from parents may have a very hard time adjusting to school for the first time. Where kindergarten used to be the place where simply learning to be in school was paramount, many schools now presuppose that children have already learned this, and carry on with a program heavy on academics. This doesn’t tend to work for kids who really haven’t learned yet what school is all about, and they may lag behind peers in early reading and academic accomplishments, though this varies with each child.

There is nothing inherently wrong with preschool, just as there is nothing inherently wrong with not having a child attend preschool. It does seem though that with curriculum changes, children who haven’t had much experience with parental separation or interaction with other children may not be ready for kindergarten, and parents may feel their decision to send kids to a school before kindergarten is being forced by greater expectations in kindergarten curriculum. No parent wants their child to have a harder than usual time adjusting.

Perhaps the most helpful advice as you consider whether a child should attend preschool is to really gauge how well you think your child will respond and do a lot of investigation. Observe classes, talk to teachers, analyze costs, see what programs you may financially qualify for, and get a sense how each school might fit with your child. Find out if schools have requirements (like potty training), and the teacher to student ratio. Ask about things like rate of employee turnover, programs offered and teacher and staff experience.

If you decide your child is not ready to attend preschool, then do look into some options that will help them engage in learning and have contact with other kids. There are often plenty of low cost "mommy and me" (or "daddy and me") courses at local park and recreation centers. Plan playdates, trips and get-togethers, and let your child know there is a world that exists outside the family home. Read to your child frequently, and let them take advantage of their tremendous learning capacity by treating each new day as a learning opportunity.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By staceybeck01 — On Sep 30, 2013

I'm sending my daughter to preschool and I'm really excited for her. I think it will be good to teach her to make friends at such a young age.

By anon129342 — On Nov 23, 2010

I agree with you FirstViolin! I just had my daughter in an ECFE class for 2 and 3 year olds and all they did during that 1.5 hours was play with toys, have story time and snack time! I felt like that could have been valuable time with me and my daughter at home working on our alphabet and numbers, or something! The preschool classes are through the same program, so now I'm hesitant to take her there. I feel like it may be a waste of money for me.

If I feel she really needs to be around kids more I can put her in Sunday School!

By lightning88 — On Sep 01, 2010

What are some good resources for lesson plans for preschoolers? I am looking especially for preschool science activities, and preschool play/learning activities.


By FirstViolin — On Sep 01, 2010

There are a lot of different methods for early childhood education besides preschool.

I am not against preschool, but I think that some preschools are little more than glorified daycares that don't really do much for the children.

In cases like that, home education can sometimes be a better choice.

By rallenwriter — On Sep 01, 2010

This is just my opinion, but I think that preschool is a great idea for almost every kid. I know it can be hard for parents to let their kids go, but I think that going to preschool really has a lot of benefits for the kid.

For instance, attending a preschool center shapes a child's ideas about learning, hopefully in a fun way, so they have a bit of a head start on kindergarten.

Besides, doing preschool projects can help develop kids' fine motor skills, and help them learn to interact with other children.

Finally, everything else aside, preschool can help the children develop a sense of independence, and be exposed to a lot of different people from different lifestyles, giving them a better idea of the world.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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