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Preschool: how did you choose one? Was there a waiting list?

  • My daughter is only a toddler, but people are already talking about preschools and where she'll be going etc. Eeek! I know absolutely ZIP about early childhood ed in this country. So I'm always interested to hear other moms' stories/advice. Suggestions? Is it worth it to do all that competitive wait list stuff?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 11th February 2008
  • We looked at several pre-schools last year for our now 4 1/2 yr old. Before we starting looking I defined what I wanted out of it for her. In our case we did not need day care, dh is a stay at home dad. We just wanted a chance for her to develop her social and class room structure skills in preparation for kindergarten. We settled on a church based program that is two days per week 2 1/2 hours per day. Their days are structured and taught by a certified early childhood education teacher. I also talked to parents of former students as part of our decision process. It helped me determine if the school in quesiton was good a preparign kids for a successful kindergarten year.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MTmomof2 on 11th February 2008
  • I guess it would depend on the area and the type of school to determine whether you should take waiting lists seriously. Say you want a Catholic preschool and there are more students than spots. Then you can expect to be on a list. In our area, there are a few really good preschools that are popular enough to have waiting lists. But there are other equally excellent schools that don't. Oh, and that's a waiting list starting in January for the upcoming school year. Not a 'get your child's name on the list at birth' sort of school.

    And run away fast from any place that promises you their's is the essential first step on the way to an ivy league education.

    BabyCenter has a good preschool interview form. And I think the February issue of Wondertime has a listing of the most popular preschool styles. Here's another online preschool article at Wondertime. l-checklist.html

    We did the usual: asked for recommendations, visited schools, asked a lot of questions, watched our daughter interacting with the teachers, etc. We ended up choosing a cooperative preschool. I highly recommend it. You really get to know the families and the kids in your class. You learn about early childhood education. There is a requirement to work in the classroom and help out around the school, but it's not a burden and fairly fun.

    Look for texture tables (eg an indoor sand box filled with rice or something), water tables, an art area, outside time every day and an active plan b if the weather is bad, curriculum wide enough to allow for differing interests and abilities, certified teachers, and an insured facility.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Jenns on 11th February 2008
  • Hey Diane,

    I went by word of mouth recommedations first. Then I checked them all out on my own because what may be good for someone may not be good for you. There is a lot of that competitive wait list stuff here with crazy pricing.

    I have friends that have their kids in "the school" and my son is not. My son can write his name, he is 3 1/2 . He is doing fine. I always say "it's preschool" not med school. Still you want the best for your child.

    I read the wondertime article and it was pretty informative.

    Some demand potty trained, some don't. Around here people send their kids at 2. I held back unti he was 3.

    I wanted a safe environment, loving teachers, safe outdoor play area and most important for me was close proximity to my house. I can actually walk there.

    My son is in a church program, they have recitals and sing.

    Our friends in NYC were telling us that they got up at 6:00 am and waited on line to get their child into "the preschool". They said it was like waiting on line for Bruce Springsteen tickets not to mention the cost of the school. Lets just say you could send three kids for their one.

    GOod luck!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 12th February 2008
  • We chose based on three dimensions:




    We went through three...
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Uhura on 12th February 2008
  • Thanks everyone for this wonderful advice. This is really helpful. I will be sure to check out the Wondertime stuff. I actually have a subscription to it (love it!) but never seem to have time to read it. I will dig my old copies out!!!!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 13th February 2008
  • I agree with Ula,

    Create a priority list and read reviews, I found helpful.

    Good Luck
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by amyjoe45 on 11th June 2011

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