tips for transitioning into child care

When Do The Preschool Years Start And End For Your Chid?

When is your child ready to start preschool? How many years of early childhood education do they need before starting kindergarten? Whether you're researching daycare centers or just want to know more about what to expect from the pre-k years, take a look at the top questions parents have about timing answered.

What Is the Typical Preschooler Age?

Pre-k includes the years after your child moves out of the toddler stage — and those that fall before they start kindergarten. The toddler stage is when your child reaches one year. In general, this stage continues until the child reaches age three or through the third year. The upper end of the pre-k years is more of a challenge to define.

Each state has its own compulsory school age rules and regulations. The age required for school attendance is anywhere from five to seven years, depending on the specific state where you live. This means your child may move from the preschooler stage to school-age at a different age than a child who lives in a different state.

At What Age Can Your Child Start Pre-K?

Again, you won't find one universal age that all children start the pre-k years. The answer to this question depends on the program and its age-related requirements. Talk to the center's director during an informational interview or school tour to learn more about the minimum age for the daycare's "pre-k" classroom. Some centers may allow two-year-olds into this classroom, while others reserve spaces in pre-k for three, four, and five-year-olds. 

How Many Years Can Your Child Stay In Pre-K? 

Like the minimum starting age, the answer to this question depends on the individual program. Some schools have a maximum age of five or six, while others may have a younger or older limit. 

Can Your Child Stay In Pre-K When They Are Kindergarten-Aged?

Your state allows five-year-olds to start kindergarten — and your child is five. Do they need to stop pre-k and move to a kindergarten classroom? It's possible (depending on your state and the early childhood center) that your child could add an extra year to their preschool experience if needed. If your child has a late summer birthday or isn't developmentally ready to start kindergarten right now, the teacher may suggest an extra year of pre-k.

An additional year in pre-k or a transition class can help children who need more time to build skills that they will use in kindergarten. This doesn't only include academic or "educational" abilities. Some children may need extra time in pre-k to build social, emotional, or physical/motor skills.