How Many Days Per Week Should My Child Be In Preschool?
Updated: Mar 1, 2022
So you’ve decided that it’s time that your child should be in preschool. But how do you decide how many days per week is right for them? While there are certainly financial considerations and family considerations when you’re making the decision, there are some child-based considerations as well.
There are several factors that figure in to whether your child would best suited for a 2, 3 or 5 day per week program. The easiest way to decide is to examine what your goals are for sending your child to preschool. Is it because your child is shy and you’d like to have them socialize more with other children? Do you feel that your child is too “attached” to a single caregiver and you would like them to show a little more independence? Are you interested in Kindergarten readiness (learning how to act in a classroom setting, learning how to get information from teachers)? Would you like your child to make academic progress? Or is there some other reason?
Whatever your reason is, there are some universal truths about preschool:
Every child is different. Absolutely every single one. Every child handles preschool differently and every child learns differently.
Not every preschool is right for every child. Not even ours.
It will not lastingly scar your child to send them (or not send them) to preschool. (I know, you weren’t expecting me to admit that, were you?)
In the right preschool, your child will learn faster than you ever imagined possible.
But you’ve decided to send your child. So, which schedule is best for them?
I know you’d think that (since we run a preschool) we would always recommend the most expensive option, right? Actually, no. (And, to be perfectly honest, all preschools earn more money for their 2 and 3 day program students per day than their 5 day students, but that’s immaterial to this discussion.)
2 day programs – In most schools, these are usually Tuesday/Thursday classes. These tend to be a good starting out spot for children who might be a little younger or who have a lot of other outside activities.
Interestingly, this is not generally where we recommend that kids who have separation issues go. There are too many days between classes. It makes the separation adjustment more difficult for the child. We often tell parents that 2 day classes create a situation where going to school is the exception and the parents see a lot more resistance from their kids to going to school. A 5 day (or even a 3 day) per week child adjusts far faster than a child in a 2 day program. You might even want to start out at a higher level and drop down (yes, most schools will allow you to transfer between programs when there is available room, both up to more days per week and down to less days) to a fewer day per week program after the transition period.
3 day programs – This is generally the most “safe” option for kids if you’re not ready for a full time, 5 day per week program and most kids start out here. Your child gets most of the benefits of a 5 day program, including building relationships with other students and teachers, consistency of routine and actual learning, but you still get to have them all to yourself for a couple of days per week. It is also a very easy transition for these children when they are ready for a 5 day per week program. Because it’s not so many days between classes, less time is taken with transition each day and more can be spent in actual learning and development.
5 day programs – For parents who really want their children to prepare for Kindergarten, to focus on learning and to develop consistent routine, a 5 day program is what you should be looking for. It enables children to really settle into the routine, the social structure and the daily lessons so that they are learning and retaining as much as possible prior to entering Kindergarten. It’s all about the consistency. Children who attend 5 day programs typically learn much faster than their 3 day counterparts.
In other schools that use the curriculum used at Stages Academy, 5 day program children who start the program early and are consistently exposed to the curriculum are reading at a 2nd grade level by the time they enter Kindergarten. That’s pretty impressive, if we do say so ourselves.
So, what’s right for your child? Only you can answer that question. Just keep in mind that no matter what road you choose, you’re not stuck with that decision. People change programs (and even schools) all the time. So, don’t be afraid to try something if you feel that it’s the best road for your child. Challenging them might just be what they need.
We are always willing to work with parents to find the best fit for their child even if it means adding or subtracting days of the week from their programs. Any good preschool should be willing to do the same.