Key Coverage

At What Age Should Kids Start School?

In France, school can start at age 2. Is that too young?

Since 2012, when the government exhorted more écoles maternelles to open their doors to 2-year-olds, the rate of participation in France’s “priority education networks”—networks of schools that serve heavily low-income, immigrant communities that are targeted for extra social support—has steadily risen. Half of the country’s 96 mainland “departments”—geographic regions akin to counties or school districts—have reached the goal of enrolling 30 percent of 2-year-olds from the priority networks. (The government does not have comparison figures from 2012 to show the precise rate of growth.)

In the United States, by contrast, the percentage of 2-year-olds enrolled in educationally focused preschool programs is negligible, and about a third of American 3-year-olds attend such programs (nearly 100 percent of French 3-year-olds do).