Parents have been asking themselves for decades what age is the right age to send their children to nursery. In the UK, all children aged 3-4 are entitled to 570 hours of free nursery education, suggesting that this is the right age to send your child to school. However, one would argue that this conclusion is too simplistic; it doesn’t take into account family circumstances or a child’s personality. I have teamed up with a nursery in Somerset to explore further below.

For many parents, the decision is made for them when they want or need to return to work after their maternity or paternity leave, especially with the mounting pressures to provide for their families. Other families choose to send their children to nursery to help them with their social development or their learning in a broader sense. Ultimately, there are pros and cons to sending your child to nursery, no matter what their age, so parents should try and weigh these up when making their decision. Don’t worry about what the other parents in your network are doing, as their circumstances might be vastly different. Only you can decide if the time is right!

As mentioned, there will be unique challenges to the milestone of sending your child to nursery, no matter what their age. For instance, if they are slightly older, they may struggle with separation anxiety after spending most of their life with you. Alternatively, if they are still really young, you may worry that they won’t be able to form a strong bond with you due to limited time together.

Regardless of their age, you might feel guilty about choosing to return to work. However, there are lots of benefits to nursery:

  • Children who have attended nursery will likely feel more comfortable in a learning environment, where there are rules and regulations. This will stand them in good stead when the move up to primary school.


  • Nursery helps youngsters with their social skills; they learn how to play nicely with other children, share, take turns, and support their peers. When they move up to “big school” they may already have some friends that they met at nursery, which will help them settle in quicker. If not, they will be well-practised in making new friends.


  • Have a professional carer look after your child whilst you are at work, dealing with personal errands or simply taking a well-deserved break is a great reason for parents to send their children to nursery.


  • Nursery practitioners will be able to provide their professional opinion about your child’s development and offer advice and guidance on how you can help.

Deciding when the time is right to send your child to nursery, if at all, is very personal. It’s absolutely nothing to feel guilty about, as doing the right thing for your family as a whole and in the long run isn’t just about how your child feels in the present. As long as you do your research and find a nursery that you feel will care for your child in the best way, then you should feel confident in your decision.