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Feeling Pressured to Put Child in Preschool

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I'm a full-time mother and have felt pressure from society to put my three-year-old into a preschool setting. After all, "everyone" has their child in preschool by this age. How necessary is preschool? What age do you think is appropriate?

A: No parent should feel pressured by their peers or the larger society to feel guilty about their three-year-old not being in preschool. Pressure like this comes from people who believe that it's never too early to get their kids a "leg up" on the "competition." Parents fear that if a preschool isn't intense enough academically, it will affect their kid's college choices in the future. It is that specific college-based fear that informs even these preschool concerns.

If you believe that you are providing a loving, stimulating home environment for your 3-year-old, I would not be concerned about whether or not she should attend a preschool. Long before the notion of preschool, kids flourished and matured as they creatively explored the world of their home and family and the world of nature. Whether it be a trip to the local children's library or hunting for sea shells, there are many ways that a parent can offer a young child a chance to explore, to create, to imagine, and to play, based upon her own natural interests and curiosities. If you think that you'd like to see if a preschool experience would enhance your little girl's life, enroll her in a part-time program that you believe matches her needs. But please don't do so simply because "everyone else" is doing it. You know your child better than anyone else and I trust that you'll always act in her best interest.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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