We had always planned on starting DS in part-time preschool at 3 (the school year would start about 3 months past his third birthday). A number of things have come up that make me feel that starting him at 2 would be a good idea. He seems to do wonderful in a structured environment with other childen. He had fairly severe social anxiety and separation anxiety and has been making strides, but the nursery at the gym for an hour isn't perfect because it lacks some structure and learning opportunities. He is also speech delayed and I suspect that a preschool environment might help him overcome those delays faster. Lastly the schedule and regularity of being at the same place 2 or 3 days a week for 3 or so hours consistently with the same kids and teachers would be good for him.
We are looking for a preschool or Montessori, not a daycare. I don't think that preschool and daycare ate the same thing. We don't need daycare but think that part time preschool would be beneficial to our son. I don't know why this seems a crazy invalid idea or something to be lamented. I have tried classes and playdates that I attend with him and he clings to me piteously and refuses to participate with the other kids. He cries for a minute when I drop him at the gym nursery but then stops, he is unsure of himself and doesn't pick an activity on his own or join another child unless he is invited or directed to do so by another child or instructor. My heart soars to see him making arts and crafts happily with other children or putting together a puzzle with a teacher or playing cars with another child. He longingly watches the neighborhood kids out the window, but is too shy to play with them if we approach. At home he gets bored and often refuses to do educational activities with me in lieu of clinging and nursing all day.
I did have preconceived notions of blithely going from one activity to another; puzzles then read a book, then build blocks, and I do sneak these things in whenever possible throughout the day, plus of course little things like helping mommy do dishes, water garden, etc... It seems pompous to assume that every child is the same, ie "I teach my child what she needs at home, why don't you do as I do [or you're a craphole parent]". Well because I don't have your child for one thing. It might be OK for children to all be different and the same thing not to work for every child right?
So I do hope to start him in preschool this year at 2. Its apparently not a regionally accepted practice (or MDC accepted practice) and I am having a hard time finding one that is indeed a preschool or Montessori (not daycare), but they do exist. I found a wonderful Montessori that does a toddler class 4 three hour sessions a week and comes highly recommended from a like-minded mama, but it is full for this year.
Anyway, on the hunt for what is best for my LO and hoping that gives some h8ers food for thought.
In answer to OP, not the usual age for preschool, at least where I live, but hopefully not to be considered freakish either.