Each parent will reach a point where they contemplate the best preschool age range for starting out. Many factors will influence this choice, and at the end of the day each parent will make the choice based on what they are most comfortable with. There are so many things that might influence your decision, from case studies to personal beliefs, the best thing to do is be informed and aware of these influencers in order to make the decision you will be happiest with in the long run.
Community Factors Influencing Preschool Age Range
Where ultimately this choice is a personal one, we naturally absorb information, cues, and experiences from around us that we can’t help but allow to influence the choice. Many of these are rational and researched concepts and raise important considerations for the age at which we choose to enroll our children into preschool. Some of these speak to factors out of our control that we need to know in order to make the decision.
- Facilities and State Governance
Part of our decision will be made based on the options available to us that are externally regulated. These come with their own insights, as is the case when you consider that Florida preschool enrollment age is regulated to happen either at age four or age five. Before that age the education is entirely up to the parent. However, the State choosing to ensure a child is enrolled by this age, or at least to promote it, is based on research and developmental studies around a good school going age, and when it becomes important for a child to start learning within a framework and at a regulated pace. So, starting your child in preschool within the age range of four to five years old is a safe option. It still is not a concrete option, though.
- Research and Psychology Propose
There have been fluctuating theories and study results on this matter. Until recently, some studies seemed to suggest that any positive influence of preschool on success later on in school may only be relevant until Junior High, and so it almost seemed that the age of preschool enrollment was not too crucial. These studies mainly looked at intellectual ability, or rather academic success in school. With the students in the studies now being much older, the surfacing correlation seems to have shifted. There is a teeming set of results suggesting that preschool enrollment from a young age has an impact on a child’s abilities to make better decisions in adulthood. Meaning, the studies focused on one aspect without anticipating a subsidiary outcome.
Aside from the fact that this study was just one view and one possible outcome of the original hypothesis, it is a very positive upside to think that an early start could help your child with cognitive tasks such as decision making and planning. A different, recent study by researchers in Sweden seems to support this. The study suggests that children as young as three can exercise their working memories to have long lasting effects on cognitive processes. Another suggestion from modern research is that preschool from age three can be beneficial as children are aware of what they do not know, they can contemplate the idea that there is more out there than they understand, which was formerly a skill thought best integrated at a somewhat older age. If a child can ingrain a decision making pattern from early on that works primarily to serve their better interests, then this study may be tapping into the idea of installing the characteristic “grit” that seem to be so vital in later life success.
As a last speculation on this, many theories that have a strong legacy for good reason state that the difference in exposure and experiences begin to reveal signs of differentiation in children as early as eighteen months. To be sure, these studies and proposed theories should inform your decision insofar as you believe your child requires outside stimulation. Later, we will consider the resources available at home that influence the preschool going age.
- Case Studies and Others’ Experiences
Loads of people look back on their preschool experience far more fondly than they do on their formal or compulsory schooling years. Whether this is because it offers such initial social memories or if it is because learning is not yet standardized and laden with consequence, it does raise the notion that children have a better learning experience in a preschool environment and it can go a long way in cementing their interests as they age. The importance of this on the question of what the best preschool age range is, is that early learning stays with a child in a positive way. These experiences may be something that you desire your child to have one day. It may also prompt you to make the best use of these years where your child’s brain soaks up learning with eagerness. If these cognitive processes begin at age three or earlier, then so should a structured learning environment that aims to engage these processes. Once again, though, there are many reasons why an older age would be more beneficial. Your home and what it is you feel is the most important way for your child to learn will also determine your decision.
Personal Factors Influencing the Ideal Preschool Age Range
While we can do a great job as parents of staying on top of what society thinks is the best preschool going age, let’s not ignore that this decision might even primarily be based on factors much closer to home and heart. We can step in with information, but we cannot see into your home and understand your child’s needs and how best to meet them on all fronts.
- Cultural Context
You as parents will naturally look to family practice and deep-set beliefs when making this choice. A family may be structured in such a way that learning comes from the immediate environment and is centered on lessons that are vital to your child on a cultural front. The manner, the lessons, or even they style of learning, and the context in which it happens, may not be something that a preschool can offer your child until a later age, where learning is centered on the building blocks to a tertiary education. In such an instance, the ideal age range will be closer to the age at which the state requires a child to be enrolled, or to have one year of preschool to ready the child for this structure.
A cultural context could also desire a parent to enroll from the age of three to ensure that a child is exposed to as many cultural contexts as possible in order to best shape their understanding of a global society.
- Home Resources
Naturally, each home has different resources. Some homes employ full time assistance where learning can happen one on one or can offer this from the parenting team, until you see it fit that your child enrolls to get preschool learning that will ready them for formal schooling. Some might need the financial assistance offered by the VPK program and will enroll at age four (or five) when the child fits the requirements. Time, money, and what kind of learning environment or opportunity exists at home will all play a role in the choice. If we are going to settle on an ideal age range for preschool, it might be more accurate to ask when it is ideal to start the child on a learning journey that best engages them.
- The Child’s Needs
This is what it boils down to. A child may need early stimulation. As a parent, you will likely witness the moment at which you know your child is ready to learn in a preschool environment. You know what they are being offered at home, you know how they are interacting with others, and you have seen their curiosity develop.
Perhaps the child has a special learning requirement that you feel is best addressed early –your child may be expressing an interest in socializing or in topics that you cannot cater to at home, or visa verse. Whatever the situation, it is important to consider the unique set of qualities that make up your child to guide you on when is best to enroll.
While we may have preconceived ideas of what the best age to start preschool is – three for promoting early learning and its benefits, four for a comfortable decision that allows for a home life influence to form more of the basis, five or six for other reasons – many factors more or less out of our control might determine when it actually happens. We might like to think we have all the decisions made ahead of time because we have accounted for all psychological and social theories about development, but the actual social and psychological conditions around us will play a role. How to go about making the right choice means accounting for as many factors as possible. There is value in speaking to a professional from a recognized preschool for guidance when the time comes.