4yo program vs. pre-k — The Bump
Pre-School

4yo program vs. pre-k

Does anyone know the difference? My son is 4 and I'm thinking of starting him in school in the fall. I do not want to send him full time since kindergarten here is only 5 half days, and I am not ready to sacrifice that much time with him. Originally I was going to put him in a pre-k class twice a week, but most are full time or 5 half days. The one school I'm looking at has a 3 half day 4yo program, the director wasn't very clear on the difference between this and pre-k. She just said that he would benefit most from 5 days. I'm also tossing around the idea of keeping him home all together until kindergarten. Socialization is not an issue being that he has a ton of friends and he's starting tball in the spring. I'm going back and forth so I guess I was posting to vent and get advice. I work 3 nights a week so on those nights I sleep all day and barely see him, so I'm stingy with the time I do have with him. But I also want to do what's best for him and his future.

Re: 4yo program vs. pre-k

  • fredalina said:
    In a lot of places there is no difference. Does this same center have both a 4yo program and a pre-k? If not I would assume they are the same. If so I would assume the 4yo program is designed for kids with late birthdays who maybe don't make the kindergarten cutoff for the following year or may be redshirted, so they can go to 3yo, 4yo, pre-k, and then k without having to repeat pre-k.
    They have both, she did say the 4yo program was for "young 4's" and my son will be over 4 1/2 in september, but he hasn't really been to school other than a "Mother's morning out" program a few hours a week. I feel like this will ease him into a routine and kindergarten won't be such a shock. But then I also feel like that's what kindergarten was for years ago. Decisions decisions... Thanks for replying.
  • I honestly don't think there is much difference between a 4yo program and a pre-k.  The 4yo class may have a little more free play and be slightly less academic.  Pre-K programs tend to do a little more kindergarten readiness-writing, worksheets, letter sounds etc.  I think if you only want to send him 3 days per week the 4yo class would be just fine!  Also, if you don't want to send him at all-he would also do just fine in Kindergarten!!  Totally your preference :)

    I based my decision for my son (4.5) SOLELY on the fact that I only wanted him to go 3 days next year.  He is technically eligible for K next year but would be one of the youngest in a district that is very heavily held back.  So, he will go 3 half days a week next year (age 5) and 5 half days of K (age 6).
    Good luck with your decision!
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  • I would at least send him to some program next year, or at least for one year before K, even if it's just 3 days/week.  Preschool is about more than socialization. My son is learning how to sit in a circle and listen/participate in group discussions, works in centers, has a 'job' in the classroom, learns how to walk in a line out to recess.  There's so many things that they learn to prepare them for the school environment.  I teach elementary and teachers can often tell which K students haven't been to preschool.  
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  • I'm not sure there is a difference. Around here different programs have different names for essentially the same thing. There are 2 year, 3 year, and 4 year preschool programs. You just have to look into the specific program to see what is really being taught. DD2 will be going to 4K in the fall through our school district. That's 5 half days. Kinder is full time, which I think is a really important introduction to full time academics. 1st and 2nd grade are pretty academically focused, which makes it more important for the kids to get used to a full day schedule in kindergarten. Fwiw, dd2 started a preschool program at 2 years (2 days for 1.5 hours) and now goes 3 days (2 hours) at 3 years. She would go every day if she could.
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  • I'm sure this differs widely from one preschool to another. I've heard of preschools where ALL the classes are considered "pre-K."  At some preschools, all kids in the last year before they go off to K might be considered "pre-K," regardless of the number of class meetings or the curriculum.  At other schools, the "pre-K" class might be focused more explicitly on school-readiness skills, both academic and emotional/social.

    At my kids' preschool, there were 4 different classes to cover kids who ranged from 3 to 5.  The program was also arranged to account for kids who had early vs. late birthdays.  But there was a distinct "pre-K" class, which my son attended when he was 5.  Here's how it worked at my preschool:

    Two morning/wk 3s -- for younger 3s or those who are new to separating from Mom.  Less structure, less emphasis on academic skills, more emphasis on learning the school routine and on social and gross motor skills.

    Three morning/week 3s and 4s -- for older 3s who will turn 4 that fall or younger 4s who are not ready for preschool every day yet.  More academic content is introduced but the class is still only 2 hours, and there's still a lot of unstructured free play. The assumption was that kids in this class would likely be attending one more year of preschool.

    Three morning/week 4s -- for 4s who would be going on to K the next year, but whose parents did not want to put them in school every day.  This class covered some of the same academic content as the pre-K class (letter recognition) but was more structured since the kids were only 4.

    Pre-K -- this was designed to be like kindergarten was back in the old days.  Five half days and you had to be 5 (or turning 5 before December) to be in the class.  While there was plenty of fun, there was a distinct language arts, math, science, and social studies curriculum.  Kids worked on more complicated projects over the course of several days, and there was more emphasis on pre-reading.  Kids worked on pencil grip, scissors grip, and writing upper case and lower case letters. K in my state has an 8/31 cutoff and is always full day.  Since public school K is basically what 1st grade was ten years ago, this class provided what 1/2 day K provided back then.
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  • Thanks for all of your replies, I am close to figuring all of this out :)
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