Nursery School
What is the best age to send my child to nursery school?

It is one question that every parent has asked for decades. Each year the UK government updates and defines its guidelines regarding funding for nursery schools for children between three and four years. The age limit might suggest that it is the right time to send their children to a nursery school. Yet, there are several underlying facts and reasons like family circumstances and their child’s personality and development that add to the final decision.

Most of the time, parents decide to send their child to nursery school to get back to work after maternity or paternity leave. Some parents send their child to nursery school when they are as young as three months old, while others choose to send them three or four years to socialize and prepare for school.

When should you send your child to a nursery school?

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, 76% of mothers start returning to their job within 12-18 months of having a baby. For children, this young, grandparents are the first childcare option, followed by daycare nurseries. Here are your options based on your child’s age.

For a child aged 0-1

While a few nurseries offer childcare since birth, the parents usually send their child to a nursery school when they are at least three months old. If you are in a situation where you have to send your child at this age, you must ensure that the nursery of your choice has experience with children this young. And while you’re at it, check if the nursery meets all the government norms and standards.

For a child aged 1-2

Experts suggest that toddlers who start going to nursery experience high stress levels during their first week due to separation from their parents. The stress hormone cortisol in children doubles during the first nine days of childcare without their parents compared to the level before going to nursery. Five months later, even though children seem settled at the nursery.


However, experts assured that it does not mean nurseries are bad for children aged 1-2. They indicated that these children need extra care and time when they go home after nursery. The extra attention helps children get back to their ‘emotional equilibrium’. Hence, parents must find nurseries with strategies to lower the stress in toddlers when transitioning from home care to daycare.

For a child aged 2-3

Most children starting their nursery schools are aged 2-3. All children belonging to this age category are independent with a curious attitude, so they have a growing interest in other children. They also understand how to use a spoon and fork, which means they are ready to start nursery school. Yes, children might seem nervous, but that is normal.

For a child aged three and above

According to the UK government, all children between three and four are eligible for at least ten hours of free preschool childcare each week. This entitlement will remain for up to six terms until the child reaches mandated school age, at which point your child must start their schooling. If your child is emotionally dependent on the parents, you can wait till they turn three. By the time they turn three, most children grow independent and curious, making it easier to adjust to nursery life.

Concluding note

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question. Sending your child to nursery school can be a complex and challenging experience for the child and the parents. You must understand what your child is going through and ensure everything is in balance. If you are looking for a quality nursery school with experience in dealing with children of all ages, you might want to read about Cheeky Chums.

For More information about early years guidelines, please click here to visit the Government site.


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