I have twins they are very smart, both potty trained. I would like to get them into pre-k in September. The only thing I am having trouble with is their birthdate. They will be 4 in January. Am I going to have to wait?


Emily Shapiro, I am a former preschool teacher turned independent admissions consultant. .

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Preschool is for 3 and 4 year olds, and in some schools includes 2's as well. Pre-Kindergarten is for 4 year olds, so it overlaps with preschool (the 4's year of preschool is pre-K). Age cut-offs differ in depending on your location. So does flexibility about the official cut-off. In my area, which is New York City, there is very little flexibility about the cut-off dates for most programs. Outside the city, independent (private) programs with December 31st cut-offs will often consider a child with a January birthday, especially if the class already has a preponderance of children on the younger end, November and December birthdays. If your boys will turn 4 in January, you can definitely enroll them in the 3's class of a preschool. If you would prefer to enroll them in a 4's class (pre-K), look for one with a December 31st age cut-off, and ask whether they would consider your children. However, consider carefully whether you really want them to be the youngest in their class, now and probably throughout their schooling. It is generally better academically for children to be on the older side than the younger, especially boys, whose fine motor control on average develops later. Also, unless they are physically large for their age, younger boys often feel at a disadvantage in sports. Being younger (and probably less mature) can be a liability socially. Without knowing your children, I can't make that judgment. I would, however, suggest that you think about it carefully. Maybe ask the opinion of your pediatrician. If you have a friend or neighbor or family member who is an educator, who knows your boys, and whom you trust, it might be helpful to ask that person's opinion.

Will Carington, works for Noodle

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While it's true that many pre-k programs, especially those offered by public school districts, only accept children who will be four years old by the beginning of the school year, there are also preschool programs that accept three-year-olds – it's just a matter of finding them!

Noodle's preschool search is a great way to start getting a sense of what preschool programs exist in your area. Once you have a list of schools and child care centers that interest you, follow up with them directly to see what programs, if any, the offer for three-year-olds. Other resources include your local public school district and Head Start, a federal program that provides preschool and other early childhood services to qualifying families. To find a program near you, use the program locator tool on the Head Start website.

To learn more, make sure to also check out Noodle's articles and advice about preschool. Hope this helps, and good luck!

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