Children can attend preschool (parvulario) in Chile from 85 days old to 6 years old. Parvulario includes three different cycles, each divided in two levels. Sala cuna for babies up to 2 years old, nivel medio for toddlers and transición from ages 4 to 6.
Chile has the best coverage for preschool in North and South America, even better than the U.S. and Canada, however the quality doesn’t match those of these countries.
Indeed, nursery schools are more nurseries than schools, a way for parents to obtain free, supervised childcare. The best pre-schools are designed to introduce children to the social environment of school and concentrate on the basic skills of coordination, encouraging the development of self-awareness and providing an introduction to group activities. When in transición, the content of the activities is more complex and specific. Students are taught the rudiments of reading, writing and arithmetic in preparation for primary school.
Nursery school is highly recommended, particularly if your children are going to continue with a state education. After one or two years of nursery school they will be integrated into the local community and will have learnt Spanish in preparation for primary school. Research has shown that children attend preschool have a distinct advantage when they start primary school, over children who didn’t attend.