Starting school a year later would help to provide a coherent service for three to six-year-olds, the charity Children in Scotland says in a response to the Government's consultation on child care.
The start of compulsory school at age five, earlier than in most European countries, means many young children experience two or three different pre-school settings. There is inconsistency because some services are the responsibility of health or welfare and others of education authorities.
Bronwen Cohen, director of Children in Scotland, said a Childcare Act should be a priority for the Scottish parliament. A statutory body like the General Teaching Council should register early years workers, who deserved better pay and conditions.
Scotland could again be a pioneer as it was 180 years ago when Robert Owen opened a nursery at New Lanark.