In addition to having to deal with the thought of separating from your child, one of the most important decisions that you’ll have to make is deciding how many days your child should attend preschool per week. While the decision is straightforward for parents who require care for their child throughout the week, other parents have the luxury of staying at home with their child. If they decide to eventually send their child to preschool, then the decision of how many days they should attend becomes more complex.

Determining the number of days that your child should attend preschool is not easy. There are several factors that may make your child better suited to either a 2, 3 or 5 day program at preschool. Before we get into the factors of each length of the program, let’s first identify some elements that you should always take into consideration.

3 elements you should consider when deciding the number of day that your child should attend preschool

  1. Their independence
    1. The level of dependence that your child has on you will be indicative of the length of time that they can spend at preschool
  2. Your schedule
    1. Does your job permit you to drop off and pick up your child every day?
  3. Your child’s willingness
    1. Though all children may appear hesitant or throw a tantrum at first, over time, you’ll be able to gauge their enthusiasm and determine how many days they are suited for.

How 2, 3 and 5 day programs for preschool in Sydney differ

2 day programs

This program is excellent for children who are just starting at preschool, are younger or have parents who are able to care for them on other days. For children who are also busy with other activities (e.g. swimming classes), this option is also suitable.

We do not recommend children who have separation anxiety to attend a 2 day program as the days are usually very spaced out and can present even further problems. It exacerbates separation anxiety because the lack of regularity puts children in a false ‘safe zone’ and leads to more resistance when the time comes for the child to attend.

3 day programs

This program is in the middle and allows children to build relationships while also getting some relief during the week. With this option, you and your child benefit from the happy medium of having most of the benefits of full-time preschool, as well as time together. Because of this, it’s a great transition program for children who are getting ready to attend the 5 days per week program.

Some children can also start preschool with this option. Due to the short space between preschool days, this is a suitable option for children with separation anxiety.

5 day programs

If your child is older or preparing to attend kindergarten, then a 5-day program is excellent. It focuses on learning and developing a consistent routine – two elements which need a bit of practice before attending kindergarten. The consistency of the program (regarding days as well as structure) helps children prepare for being away from their parents for a prolonged period.

 This program is also effective for children who are keen to learn and don’t seem to be getting enough developmentally out of the 3 day program.

How do I know if I’m sending my child to the right program?

 Though we’ve run through some of the most important factors for determining the right program for your child, we know that the entire concept is subjective and that, in some cases, it can be quite difficult to determine the best program for your child.

There are a number of indicators that point to your child’s happiness at the program. If you look out for either the positive or negative indicator, you’ll be able to gauge if they’re happy. Take into account the following:

  • Your child’s mood after attending preschool
  • Your child’s willingness to attend preschool again/visit their friend
  • How excited your child is to rehash the events of the day

On a developmental level, talking to your child’s educator about their performance and behaviour in class will also indicate whether they are academically or developmentally ready to attend a longer program or if they should downgrade to a shorter program.

We hope that this article helps you to understand the difference in the various day programs available at preschool and which ones are best suited to your child.

Preschools play an important role in the emotional, cognitive and social development of your child, so you must select one that is in alignment with development goals for your child and that incorporates music in its curriculum. Remember, preschools are meant to help your child and are effective at nurturing your child’s development, so you should send them when they are ready.