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When Should My Toddler Start Preschool

by Mrs. Heffalump

‘Don’t send her till she’s 5 let her stay and play at home, no need to send her until she starts year 1.’

‘Send them as soon as possible. I just couldn’t keep him at home.’

We sent him at 1 and a half. He cried every day for a month. I think we should have let him stay at home’

‘We sent her when she was a bit older and she was the odd one out. She was a bit slower than the rest’

If all these the well intended advice has gotten you confused, read on! When Should My Toddler Start Preschool is the article for you!


These are some of the many statements we hear from other parents, grandparents’, aunts, uncles, in laws and other concerned citizens about our babies. Every parent will have a different story to tell and most of the elders in the family will have a say like when my little one should start pre-school and they all will have say when yours is to start too!

So when really is it that you should send your precious bundle away to endeavor on his educational journey? So consider these when you think of the question – When Should My Toddler Start Preschool?

There definitely is no hard and fast rule, but most preschools start accepting children when they are 2 and half years. This doesn’t mean that every child will be ready at this age.

Obviously spending time with your spouse and talking about your child’s development will help you in deciding whether it is the right time to send him to school. There are a few important factors in considering whether your child is ready for school.

1. Is he/she independent?

Does your child have basic skills to handle himself (Ex- Wash hands after painting, Eat his lunch without assistance, Can he carry out a simple instruction such as ‘Keep your bag in the cupboard’?)

2. Does he spend time away from you

Is your toddler clingy? Does he cry when you’re not around? Sometimes children can be too attached to their grandparents and caregivers who look after them. Children who are used to being apart from their parents usually get into the pre-school mode without any problem. However if you are always by his side and not giving him the opportunity to spend some time with their grandparents or your sister and her kids: your toddler will have some difficulty being way from you. A little time away from you can help them get over his/her anxiety and get him confident enough to know that you will be back.

Most preschools will allow your child to get adjusted in short periods of them beginning school. You can drop them off for one hour and as they gradually get used to their new environment they will be kept longer.

3. Does your child do activities and projects by himself.

As a preschool teacher myself, I can assure you that one of the main ‘parts’ of preschool include many arts and crafts projects, painting and colouring.

In order to do these activities your little one is required to have some amount of concentration and be able to focus. If your little one gets involved in drawing and colouring, making puzzles and does other activities by himself then he is most likely ready for preschool.

However even if your little one does require your help and wants you to do everything you could help him/her be more confident and get them ready by setting up area where he can play himself. Give him some play dough (DIY Playdough recipe) or some paper to tear and then paste by himself (Easy activities that they would enjoy) Try and let them do things by themselves and alone. Do not correct them every time and let them entertain themselves as long as possible. Check out our craft ideas if you need some inspiration!

4. Does he mix with other children?

Circle time is a time usually at the start of the day where children are required to sit down and participate in singing, listening to stories and show and tell or class discussions. If your child is not used to group activities you could start by taking them to a local library or book store for a children’s book recital and short drama.

5. Does your child take instructions?

Observe your child and see how he/she reacts to you telling them to out away their toys because its time for a nap or time for a wash. Does he throw a tantrum or do it with relative ease? Giving them prior notice ex. Once you have finished fixing the car we are going for a wash babs.

6. Is he/ she potty trained?

Most preschools do require your toddler to be potty trained however if they are not potty trained, gradually starting the process a few months ahead would help.

All in all if you’re worried that they are not ready you can send them in the second term or even hold onto them for another year. It’s more a transition of you realizing that your baby is growing up so fast and letting go even for a few hours and for them to start becoming independent :)

I hope we helped answer your question, ‘When Should My Toddler Start Preschool’, leave a comment below if you have any additional thoughts!

Mrs Heffalump is a Mom of one lovely little boy and would love a whole battalion of sons around the whole house! She loves love loves doing art & crafts, is an absolute control freak and can be slightly OCD. Mrs Heffalump is also a qualified Montessori Teacher, has her Diploma In Child Psychology , A British Council Approved Teacher and was working in a leading International School.

“Brought to you by the Pears Happy Baby Learning Center“


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