Articles and Topics
What is the right age for a child to attend preschool?
Bettye M. Caldwell, Ph.D.
In my answer you will immediately recognize that I make no distinction between “preschool” and “child care.” It is because I accept the necessity of an educational component to any type of child care that I urge people to call it “educare.” Having said this, I rush to add that there is no one right age for entry. The time to enroll a child depends largely on family needs and characteristics of the child. If both parents work outside the home, early enrollment is usually a necessity. And there is now a great deal of research available which shows that, if the parents are loving and sensitive and the early childhood program is of high quality, the child can thrive in that arrangement. If one of the parents does not work outside the home, and if the child has friends in the neighborhood or relatives to play with, age 3 years is a good time to start. And enrollment does not have to be all day every day; there are still many centers where the child can attend only half a day for two or three days a week. Program quality is more important than age of entry.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education