How much time in school is right for a 4 yr old? — The Bump

How much time in school is right for a 4 yr old?

My husband and I have conflicting views on this. He wants her in school 5 days a week 9-3. I think that's way too much! She did 3 full days last year and did fine but we switched schools over the summer and she is not as happy there (old school really wasn't very good). I just can't imagine expecting her to be there 30 hours a week!

She is just turning 4 but will be eligible to start kindergarten after this year. Since this could be her last year before formal school my husband feels we should do all we can to get her up to speed for kindergarten (ie. more pre-school) while I kind of feel like it's her last year to be a kid and be home with me at least part-time.

My question for you is: Do you think there is a "right" amount of time for kids to be in school at this age or is it dependent on the child's personality? (I guess I'm talking about kids who have been at home and not in day care so aren't used to being away a lot). My daughter has always been really clingy and is not really interested in learning the alphabet or formal things like that at this point so I don't know if pushing her to learn it would be good or bad for her. Let me hear your thoughts!

Re: How much time in school is right for a 4 yr old?

  • There is no right amount as long as your child is happy, nurtured, socialized and learning.
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  • DS1 is turning 4 and will be in public Prek3 (his birthday is 3 weeks after the cut off so he is the oldest in the class).  He is going 5 days a week for three hours.  We don't know if he got an AM or PM slot at this time.  My DS is used to daycare so FT wouldn't bother him in fact he will go to daycare after school.  So, he does have a long day.  The school has to follow a set curriculum. I wouldn't say he isn't into learning ABC, 123 but he differs from DD as she had better academic skills than he does at this age.  He learns much better in a group than drill and practice at home (which DD actually loves : ) 

    I also hear that with half time they spend more time on academics skills and FT they break up the day with nap, specials (art, pe, technology, etc) and lunch and recess. So, there is lost instruction time by going full day.  My DD didn't do PreK3 just Prek 4 (which is full time), this is new to us.   I know there is no nap during half day (8-11) and (12-3).  

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  • I agree with the first poster. There's no right and wrong answer here. You need to figure out what works best for your child and your family.

    For us, we do a 3-year preschool before K. My oldest is entering K in a few weeks. Her first year (2.5) she went 2 half days per week. Here second year (3's) she went 3 half days and her third year she went 5 half days with enrichment programs on 2 days (she ended her day at 2:35pm on those days). For our family, this has worked out really well. Our K is full day, and I really did want her to get used to being in a "school" setting for 5 days. DD#2 is following in her footsteps this year as she goes to K next year.

    I know people that do full days at 3 years old, and people that do no formal preschool at all before K. In the end, it does all work out, but I do believe that the kids that do not have any formal preschool before K, take much much longer to get acclimated to the "school" environment........


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  • DS1 will go to pre-k five mornings a week next fall which is the only option the school is attending this year offers.
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  • DS turned 4 in June.  He will be attending preschool for the 1st time this fall.  He is going M-W-F from 9:20 to 11:45.

    If we decide to red shirt him he will go to the same school at the same times when he is 5 next year and start Kindergarten at 6.

  • I think half days are find for a 4 year old.  Even only three half days per week, I think is good.  In kindergarten, they only have half days (at least most that I know of).  Kids don't start going to full days until the 1st grade.

    If she does well in Pre-K4 she'll do fine in kindergarten.  It's just kindergarten, she's not going to college. :-)

    Children need alot of nurturing. It's good for her to be at home with you and at Pre-Kindergarten part-time.  Kids have an additional 12 years of full time school (1st-12th).

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  • I know a lot of kids who start kinder w/half day pre-school and they do just fine.  Same goes with kids who do the full day.  I think either way she will be good Smile
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  • My four year old will only go 2 mornings a week (it's because of how $$ the preschool it!).  this is what we did with my son and he transitioned to kindergarten fine.
  • We're probably doing 5 days a week next year, but his preschool only offers half days (9-12).  I think that is plenty, and will get him ready for preschool which is full day. 

    What is the preschool like?  Is it truly a learning setting for all 6 hours?  That seems like a LONG time for a 4 year old.  Heck, I'm worried that it's too long for a 5 year old in kindergarten!

  • I don't think there is a right amount of time, not that is the same for everyone.  Last year my DS1 went to 3yo preschool 2 days/wk for 2.5 hours each.  This year for 4yo, he'll go 3 days/wk for 3.5 hours.  Then next year he'll go 5 days/wk for half days. 

    I think it just depends on what programs are available, the cost, whether LO would otherwise go to daycare, and what the child would do well with. 

    Good luck with your decision.  

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