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If you decide to have children it can be a very special time in your life. Watching them learn and grow every day is truly incredible. We all want nothing but the best for our children so we need to make sure we’re doing everything it takes to set them up for success in life. As you start to save money for them to go to college you also need to start putting out the feelers for Preschools. This is one of the cases in life where knowledge is not power, it’s just more frustration towards society. It’s amazing the lengths you go to for the place where your child is going to eat glue and/or sand most of the day.
Back in the day people would take their young children to learn from some other person in the village while the parents went off to hunt or gather… Fast Forward to where we are today and you will be met with a confusing labyrinth of Non-Profit and For Profit institutions asking for a hefty chunk of change. On one hand it is not mandatory, this is a choice you make, but on another hand it is an unspoken requirement for education. There is no way you can just hang out at home and then just drop your child off for their first day of kindergarten. Kids do need to learn to socialize, pay attention, share and get out of your home for a few hours a day! So let’s take a further look at what makes Preschools completely ridiculous and what you should be looking for to make the right decision.
Non Transparent pricing! While some do list their current tuition costs, some do not. So you have to treat this like you’re dealing with a sales org! So sticker shock can be a thing here as you can fall in love with a school and then see the price and have to reset yourself.
Waiting lists! Many put on the facade of demand, oh your child was just born yeah well you’re a little late in the game so you’ll be on the waiting list. Some give preferential treatment to people who join their toddler program, belong to an associated church/temple or have siblings at the school, but they always make it feel like it’s not a guarantee. So you have a constant worry that every place will book up and you’ll be stuck someplace you hate or even better will have to homeschool your child forever.
Application fees! These fees can vary, but it’s kind of annoying considering if you go there you end up paying them plenty. I don’t think you need $100 to put my application in the recycling bin!
Since there is no “public” option you will find some non-profit schools while others are run by corporations/private owners. It seems strange thinking that your school has an owner, for instance one chain is owned by Bain Capital. Though the non-profits have their own fun of wanting you to be heavily involved and fundraise.
How to Find the Preschool for you
Figure out the different learning philosophies
There are tons of different learning philosophies some of them seem practical and others seem downright ridiculous. One example is Montessori (Well if your child is born and you’re reading this you are already too late…) this lets children guide their own experience. You also have Reggio Emilia, Waldorf and Religious Schools. Hear their pitches and see what you feel will work for you.
Ask Friends you trust
Set a net and see what others have done and are doing. If you’re the first in your friend group or new to an area check with friends who have family or experience in the region. Facebook can be a resource as well as local parenting groups. Each school has a distinct vibe and if that doesn’t match yours then you won’t have a productive experience.
Find Parents you like
This is the key here. Your kid will learn things at any school they attend, but if you don’t like their friends parents or drop-off/pick-up is awkward then fuck that. I remember my parents saying I had 15 graduations before 1st grade, well guess who you see at these things… other parents!
Things to consider is this a school where parents pick up/drop off vs nannies, do the parents party hardy (how much drinking is happening at those school fundraisers?), is there a good mix of diversity and do the kids seem nice or are they bratty pains in the ass. These kids could become your Childs BFF or at least friend for the next few years so make sure you like who they’re hanging with.
Take a deep breath
Like a lot of things in life this shall pass. You will make a decision, your child will go to a preschool and statistically most of the kids do get in to kindergarten. The key to your Childs education is you! The environment you set at home is the key to their education. Like a lot of things in parenting you will forget all about this when it’s over so don’t stress. So take a deep breath and know you’ve got this!