Preschool or mom & tot program?

My two-year-old daughter is very social and enjoys being with other children. I have her enrolled in a Mom-and-Tot program at the YMCA and had planned to start her in school two or three mornings a week. However, when my son was born, she became very attached again and showed signs that separating her from me was not a wise idea. Do you feel that it is better to wait until she's three and a half to enroll her five days a week, or start with just the three days when she turns three?


Dear Susan,

You were very wise to keep your daughter home with you after the baby was born. Often, young children can feel "pushed out of the nest" too soon if they are asked to go to school in this situation. They wonder if their status in the family has dropped, and if they are being replaced by the baby. (This also accounts for some of the difficult behavior one sees in a child with a newborn in the house.)

It is easier for a child between two and three who is not already enrolled in a school program to stay home and see that he or she is still very precious to Mom and Dad!

I have often noted that three years of age is the optimal time to start pre-school. Many of the developmental issues faced by a toddler have been overcome. The three year old separates more easily from a parent, and is eager for the companionship of other children. I think it would be a good idea to give your daughter those few extra months at home with you and in the Mom-and-Tot program. She will not be missing anything in terms of early learning by starting school at three and a half. And she will gain all-important time in her family.

Best of luck,
Patti Greenberg Wollman

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