4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Preschool

Are you trying to decide which preschool is right for your child? As you narrow down your choices, consider these 4 important questions before making a decision.

4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Preschool

Choosing a preschool can seem daunting, especially as you consider all the factors in making a good decision. You may have found a few options but don’t know how to narrow them down. Perhaps you want all your bases covered so you can feel confident with the school your child will eventually attend.

As I was getting ready to welcome my twins home, I knew my 3 year old would best thrive in a preschool setting given our circumstances. But my husband and I also needed to consider several factors, from cost to convenience, before making a decision.

Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons of preschool, keep these questions in mind as you learn more about each school:

1. How much does the preschool cost?

For most of us, cost is the most important factor when choosing a preschool. No matter how much you love a particular school, you simply can’t afford to enroll your child if its fees are out of your budget.

Consider how much you’re willing and able to pay for preschool. This can narrow your choices down to those that fit within your price range. Budget before- and after-school care costs if needed, as well as other fees like materials, field trips, and registration.

Despite the steep costs of preschool, many can also be flexible to meet your needs. For instance, ask if they offer reduced hours or days. They’ll likely have lower fees for half days like 9am to 12pm or for three days of the week instead of five. Some might also have sibling discounts which can help.

Lastly, ask if they typically increase tuition every year, and if so, by how much. That way, you can prepare your budget should you want to enroll again next year.

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2. Do their hours coincide with your schedule?

Another factor to consider is the preschool’s hours. Depending on your needs, you may need a school that opens as early as 7am and as late as 6pm. Those that only function a few hours a day—9am to 2pm with no morning or afternoon care, for instance—may not be an option.

Perhaps you only plan to enroll your child for a few hours in a day, or a few days in a week. You might need a preschool that can accommodate shortened hours or flexible days.

We needed a preschool that allowed my husband to drop our son off at 10am so that I could pick him up at 3:30 in the afternoon. Depending on your schedule (from work, school, or other obligations), consider their hours in your decision.

Similarly, find out how many times a year they go on a break. Some are off for two weeks in December and another two in the spring, not to mention a few more breaks during the summer. For many working parents, too many breaks may not be feasible.

I was grateful my son’s preschool offered child care year-round (except for one week in the summer). If your preschool breaks frequently, arrange your schedules to coincide with the breaks, like scheduling your vacations during that time.

3. How convenient is the preschool?

Sometimes simple convenience can be the deciding factor when choosing a preschool. When all else evens out, the conveniences can sway you to choose one over another. Other times, the combination of several conveniences can make for a clear choice.

For instance, how easy are drop-offs and pickups? One we visited required us to park on a busy street where finding an empty spot seemed impossible. Meanwhile, the preschool we eventually chose had its own parking lot with easy and quick access to the entrance.

Another consideration is how far the preschool is located from your home or work. Going out of the way can disrupt your work schedule or a long commute may be too much for your child. Maybe one is close to grandma’s house so that she can walk and pick him up in the afternoon.

Other conveniences can center around meals. Does the preschool offer a healthy lunch menu that can ease the task of packing lunches every day? If not, are they willing to heat up your child’s lunch in a microwave?

4. How do you feel about the school?

As irrational as a gut feeling may be, sometimes it’s more telling than any logical fact. After all, the brain can argue any side indefinitely, while your heart usually tells you what’s right.

All that to say… how does the school feel to you? The director, the teachers, the classrooms?

Sometimes the deciding factor when choosing is simply the energy or vibe you get from the facility. For instance, I visited a well-rated preschool but found its environment too boisterous for my son’s quiet temperament. The school might look impressive online or through word of mouth, but only by visiting will you determine whether your child can thrive.

However important technical factors may be, you need to feel confident about that particular preschool. Nothing will ever be perfect—there might be a few inconveniences to overlook. But if you generally feel positive, there’s a good chance he will too.

The bottom line

Whether you’re nearly certain about a preschool or are still weighing your options, consider these 4 questions before making a final decision. Hopefully, your answers will provide a clear direction with which one to choose.

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