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Once your little one reaches the age of 1 until 5 years, they’re considered a toddler. If you have experience with older children, you’ll know that a child aged 1 to 2 years has quite different needs and abilities than one who is 3 to 5 years old. 

Younger toddlers, such as those who just turned one, might just be learning how to walk or wave, although they’ll also want to explore new things, be able to recognize familiar people and objects, and follow simple instructions. Toddlers who have reached the age of 2 might now be good at kicking a ball or playing make believe.

They should also be able to follow directions with two to three steps, sort objects by color or shape, and display a wide range of emotions. Once they reach 3 years old, most toddlers can dress themselves, sing a song, use safety scissors, name colors, and ride a tricycle. They have better control of their bodies too and can now hop on one foot.  

Because of this, toddler programs are designed to cater to their age and development. Programs will tend to focus on their motor skills, language and vocabulary, listening skills, early math and problem solving. Toddler schools, such as child care centers and preschool, are part of the early childhood education program of the country, but sending your children to these schools is not required by law. 

Child Care Centers

Child care centers, also commonly known as daycare, accept toddlers as well as infants, preschool and school-age children. You’ll often find them offering part-time and full-time care. 

When you put your toddler in a child care center, the staff will group them with other children their age. While not a conventional school, a child care center does offer a structured environment that’s similar to a classroom. These rooms will have plenty of equipment and supplies to facilitate the kids’ learning activities.

In addition to play, there are structured physical exercises to enhance the children’s motor skills development. Your toddler will also be exposed to educational games, storytelling sessions, creative arts and crafts, hands-on and other interactive activities to improve their cognition, creativity, communication, and problem-solving skills. Plus, interacting with their peers and adults can improve their social skills, including their manners, empathy, sharing, and cooperation. The structured learning environment and activities work together to help prepare your child for kindergarten’s formal education setting and social interactions. 

These early childhood institutions can be run by public schools or government agencies, non-profit or for-profit organizations, and individual owners. The state or territory where they operate will often require child care centers to be licensed. However, some states might exempt centers run by public schools, faith-based organizations, or those running part-time programs like nursery schools or drop-in care. Licenses ensure that the centers follow basic health and safety requirements.  


Preschools can be public or private. Public preschools are funded and run by the state. These early childhood institutions typically enroll children ages 3 and 4, but 2-year-olds are also accepted. 

The curriculum involves a learning environment that is filled with a combination of play, hands-on, and learning activities. Your toddler will begin to study math and science as well as learn how to read. Like child care centers, preschools also value children’s development in their emotional growth and social skills. As a preparatory for formal learning, most preschools teach toddlers how to conduct themselves with their peers and other adults when they are away from their parents for a long time. 

In the U.S., there are several types of preschools, including Montessori, Waldorf, and HighScope. Others are run by parent coops, religious institutions, and the government. Some focus on academic learning, while others on building children’s creativity and love for education. There are those who allow the kids to lead their learning journey, while others follow a particular curriculum. However, all rely on play and other interactive and hands-on activities to instill knowledge and develop motor and social skills.

PreKindergarten Programs

PreKindergarten programs, also known pre-K or junior kindergarten, are open for children aged 3 to 5 years. These programs are meant to prepare the kisa for their foray into formal education, i.e., prepare them for kindergarten. They usually follow the school year but classes are held for only part of the day. 

These programs can be run by child care centers, public schools, non-profit or for-profit institutions, and religious organizations. They may be required to have a license or some might be license exempt, depending on your state or territory. 

Head Start and Early Head Start

For families who can’t afford to pay for child care centers or preschool, Head Start and Early Head Start might be the answer. They are publicly funded early learning programs that offer free quality and comprehensive early childhood services. Their goal is to make young ones ready for school. However, you’ll need to meet income eligibility requirements to qualify. 

Early Head Start are for children younger than 3 years, while Head Start are for toddlers aged 3 to 5 years, including those with physical and developmental delays, homeless children and those in foster care. These programs are run by school districts, community action agencies, and local non-profit organizations.

Where Should I Place My Toddler?

That depends on a number of things, such as what toddler schools are available in your area and if those meet the needs of your child and your family. You’ll have to find out the size of the program, its environment, operating hours, and other important info in order to determine if an option is right for you and your toddler. 

Do your research and ask around. Check your network for recommendations. Or, reach out to your local child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agency. Also check your state or territory’s child care consumer education website. For Head Start and Early Head Start, visit their online Head Start program locator, find a local program that’s near you, and contact them to learn more about how to apply.

Do They Have Toddler Schools?

In conclusion, while there is not a specific toddler school, there are many options to choose from. Or if you are like me, I was able to do my work from home with my toddlers in tow. They are now grown and teenager so enjoy the toddler age while it lasts !

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