A Nail-biting Decision: Picking “The Right” Preschool

The new school year is just around the corner and many 3 and 4-year-olds will have their first day of school. It’s time for preschool, where’s your child going?

Picking one isn’t as trivial as you might think. There’s tons to consider. Full-time? Part-time? Do you want a program where you have to volunteer at the school? What about Montessori? There’s also some “must-have” school systems that are so exclusive you feel pressured to get into the $20,000+ a year preschool because that feeds into the elite elementary school, which you must attend to go to the immaculate middle school to get admitted to the high-performance college prep school that paves a yellow brick road to the Ivy Leagues.

Before you know it you’re panicking over whether your child will get in. How will the interview go? What about the “play-date” where they evaluate your kid’s interaction with others? How will she behave? Did you get in all of the right papers? Say all the right things in your essay? Have you talked to all of the right people? Of course to me the latter is the more extreme example, but the concern is palpable on all levels.

Logan’s in daycare and a few months ago there was a flurry among my mommyfriends as to what preschool their kids were going to attend. I honestly didn’t know if I needed to even think about that. My kid’s been in a learning facility since he was 7 months old and the facility has kids from 6 weeks to 12 years.

Nevertheless I figured any good mom would at least know her options. So I poked around at schools in my neighborhood and found one that was highly recommended, focused on letting kids be kids instead of enrichment programs to enhance their SAT performance. Plus many of the kids that go there go to what eventually will be Logan’s elementary school. He’d arrive in kindergarten with friends in his class.

I was tempted to make the switch, especially as I grew increasingly frustrated with his teacher. But his girlfriend, Cali, was there (she replaced Emma) not to mention his best buds, Shawn, Soham and Jackson. The teachers are wild about him and he loves them, even calling one of them Miss Holly-Mom. The other parents dote on him too since he gets there early, he’s the unofficial greeter, hanging out at the front desk saying hi to all and doling out hugs. I figured, why change? Plus now he’s moved up into a new class and his teacher is amazingly wonderful.

So in going through the throes of picking the right school, go with your gut and try not to fret too much, though every mom does. (Even if they won’t admit it.) The biggest thing that kids need at this stage is a few hours each week of playing with peers. And peers can be siblings. Some kids never go to preschool and they’re fine. I think that’s the key. Remember that they’re going to be fine. We’re doing our best and that’s all you can really ask for.

3 responses to “A Nail-biting Decision: Picking “The Right” Preschool

  1. Just went through this conumdrum myself. Came to the same conclusion. One of the dumbest kids I know goes to the high-dollar preschools, so if they aren’t getting it at home, money won’t solve the problem. My mother-in-law, who has a master’s in early childhood development and decades of experience working with preschoolers, says what they really need is socialization and playtime at this age. She raised three kids that collectively missed three points on their SATs, so I trust her. 🙂

  2. Could be in my shoes…Missouri’s school cut-off date is August 1. No pre-school for Abby this year. 😦 I want her to go, too.

  3. The preschool thing can easily drive you nuts, but we just have to try not to let it get to you. Though you *are* allowed to go bananas later in their scholastic careers. 😉

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