Choosing Between Different Preschool Schedules

Eliza Clark
February 18, 2016

Of the many dilemmas that come with choosing a preschool, the question of schedules is one of the most vexing. You may know what kind of philosophy or community you prefer, and everyone has an ideal location in mind, but schedule?

What is the optimal preschool schedule for a two-year-old, a three-year-old, a pre-kindergartner? And what is the ideal schedule for their parents?

No one seems to agree on any of this.

Some schools go by the rule of two days a week for two-year-olds, three days for three-year-olds, and a full week for pre-k kids. Others start the little ones at five days a week right off the bat. Then there’s the issue of mornings versus afternoons, and half days versus full days. It’s a conundrum! A complicated conundrum.

Savvy as we are, we can’t completely solve it for you, but we can offer a few pointers on how to think about the issue.

1. Know that the more flexible your family is about schedules when you are applying to preschools, the more appealing a candidate you will be, and the more choice of spots you are likely to have.

2. Realize that your child is more adaptable than you think. When the little ones are babies, some of us become quite obsessed about sleep and meal schedules, with extremely good reason. Now is the time to relax a bit, and realize that naps will disappear eventually, that kids who still need a nap usually do manage to shift their sleep schedules when adapting to an afternoon school schedule.

3. This is not a genius insight by any means, but don’t forget that more time at school, nice as it sounds, will mean a higher cost. Be sure to think in larger terms about how you want to budget your education spending. Maybe you’d like to put some of those funds towards swimming lessons or some other worthwhile endeavor?

4. Think about how the school schedule will fit with and impact the rest of your family’s day-to-day life. Overall sanity for the family is just as important as a supposed "ideal" schedule for one child.

From the Parents

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