Mom-to-Mom Support/At what age should I start preschool with my son?

At what age should I start preschool with my son?


I was just wondering at what age to start the preschool program, what developmental milestones to look for, etc. My oldest son is only 2-1/2. He can say his alphabet and count to 13. He knows his colors pretty well and talks VERY well for his age. I want to begin teaching him what the letters sound like and what they look like. Is he too young for this? 

Dear Mom,

Thank you for your question!

When deciding if your child is mature enough to start formal schooling, look at the child’s abilities as a whole, not just academically. Most children begin preschool around the age of three and a half or four. I wouldn’t begin preschool any younger than this age, because children should have appropriate time for physical, emotional, and cognitive growth before beginning school. 

During the time before you start preschool, you can begin reading to him, using picture books, introducing colors and counting aloud, working on small motor control activities like threading buttons, and providing time for scribbling and coloring. There shouldn’t be any formal schooling, but you can see that over time, ample exposure to these activities will help ensure his readiness for preschool.

As you introduce books into his life, if you find that he is excited about learning how to read, then it would be fine to teach him the basic letter sounds and names. Some children have learned their ABC’s simply because the parents read to them every night before bed. I guarantee that constant exposure to books and words will help him learn his letters and sounds in a gentle and very easy way.

When he is ready for preschool, and if you are using the lesson plans created by CHC, you can follow the suggested activities as listed with the Little Stories for Little Folks phonics program, which teaches letters and their sounds and then progresses to actual reading. When completing these activities, if you find that your child is not yet ready for them, you can set them aside for later. However, if you find that your child accomplishes the activities with ease, then you can proceed with the school year at the recommended pace.

A good way to check readiness is by observing what he does and does not want to do when you introduce concepts to him. If he seems eager to learn more math concepts, you can move him ahead. If he seems disinterested in going any further in reading, you can wait, all the while exposing him to more books and reading aloud to him.

Remember that you want him to enjoy learning. In preschool you are laying the foundation for the years to come. This is where you can foster an enjoyment for all the subjects, particularly reading, math, and religion. So when you are working with him, it’s important that he be in a relaxed environment, with little pressure. It’s also important to take his learning slowly, so he has a chance to absorb everything. You’ll want to make sure that he has learned all the basic concepts before moving on. 

During the preschool and kindergarten years, your child will not be doing much seatwork or actual textbook activities. The activities you will be following with your child encourage exploration of his environment, hands-on activities practicing small and large motor control, and lessons involving all the senses.

It’s so easy in the younger grades to incorporate learning into everyday activities, whether by counting the steps that he walks down, learning his colors by what he is wearing, or by spending reading time with mom on the couch. I’m sure that you do all these activities every day with him. You can gently teach him all the necessary content without it even appearing like schoolwork.

God bless you and your family!

Laura Corrigan

About Laura Corrigan

Laura Corrigan is a mother of five. She was homeschooled through high school and received her teaching certificate from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She has also homeschooled her own children.