So I’m in charge of finding a decent preschool/day care for my son.

Any tips and advice from those who’ve been here before?

Visit each one – sounds lame but make it a good visit- watch the kids, do they seem happy…is it clean, are the kids having fun, is there a tv on (bad sign), is there a place for naps…even if you decide to go to a homebased preschool these are good ideas- we had one place tell us that they let the kids sleep where ever they passed out.

You get what you pay for- generally.

Is the day structured?

!! Do NOT be afraid to pull your kid out if he or she is unhappy!! We did this twice. When a 3 year old cries every day for a week when you drop them off and do NOT want to go back-listen to them.

If you are ever even the slightest bit uncomfortable, even if you cannot quatify the feeling, take your kid out. We had an issue that was probably nothing but both of us felt just a twinge of uncomfortable-ness. We took our daughter out, and we both felt relieved, and we found a new place that our daughter STILL talks about 5 years later.

Call the references.

I am sure there are more but those stand out for me-- in the end, we were paying 165.00 per week and 200 in the summer but we found a great place.

Most people will say that a good preschool is one that has a religious approach and so doesn’t practice SRA. Most of the Christian religious schools don’t do SRA, and are a little cheaper than the standard little achievement academies. Nevertheless, getting your child involved early in SRA can really help them excel and make connections throughout the rest of their lives. However, SRA philosophy does require that the lowest performing student be eliminated each quarter, so if your child just doesn’t seem to want to learn the little rituals they may end up on the extreme business end of SRA.

One thing with the SRA and preschool, you have to be willing to get involved in SRA and stick to it during the mandatory parental involvement sessions, even to the point of supporting the group during the elimination phase. You also aren’t supposed to talk about SRA with people who aren’t involved in SRA. It’s cool though, I went to a preschool at my local YMCA that practiced SRA and everbody who was anybody had their kids in the class. I liked it and although it was a little competitive, I think I turned out fine.

What exactly are you looking for? Is it for socialization or do you need childcare?

If it’s for childcare, you’ll be limited in your choices because a lot of preschools are only half day programs. If it’s primarily for socialization and your hours are flexible, then you’ll have greater options.

Word of mouth is a good way to find a place. Think of people you know with kids. Ask ones with similar parenting philosophies where their kids went and why they chose that place. Then make a list of schools/daycares and visit them. Ask lots of questions, observe the kids, ask about parental involvement or anything else that’s important to you.

If you look at home daycares, ask for references, make sure they’re licensed, ask their policy on drop ins and parental involvement (if they’re not open to the idea of parents dropping in, that’s not a good sign), and see about talking to parents of kids currently enrolled there.

After you choose a place, ask your kid questions about their day. See if what they tell you is good and if they seem happy. Note any changes in attitude. Talk to the teachers. Some adjustment and nerves are totally normal but if they seem unreasonably down about the preschool thing, look at other places and don’t be afraid to pull them out.

I just did a Google maps search for “preschool near” the zip code for the nicest area in between where I live and where I work. I got almost 100 results and pared it down from there. Absolutely absolutely absolutely go to each one that you think is a possibility.

If a school has a long waiting list, there’s usually a good reason. We had narrowed our field of choices down to 2 places – one that could take our daughter right away, and one that had a 4 month waiting list and was $100 a month more expensive.

We put her in the place that she could start immediately, but after less than a week, we were on that waiting list. She is now in the more expensive place and all of us are much happier. What Walter said is right – if you have ANY concerns, indulge them. You don’t want to be second guessing your feelings about your kid’s welfare.

Eliminating kids from Preschool? Please elaborate, that sounds rather harsh.

"Learn to tie your shoelaces faster, you miserable tow-headed whelp! No, no, don’t make shooting sounds out of firetrucks! Do you want to grow up and attend a second-tier law school when you could have gone to an Ivy? "

Flowers’ post doesn’t make any sense at all until one does enough googling to realize that SRA stands for “Satanic Ritual Abuse.”

At that point it all snaps into focus and you immediately regret doing the googling.

Yea ouch, thanks for the save there.

Uhm… it was Flowers. And “SRA” stands for “Satanic Ritual Abuse.”

So I think it was a wee bit of a joke there.

Yeah, we’re looking for socialization. He’s bored with our house and the immediate neighborhood. He just needs to get -out- for a while, learn some new things, make some new friends.

I’d it and realized what Flowers was talking about.

Flowers…can you please be less weird? You’re kind of getting annoying.

Don’t listen to him Flowers, he’s just jealous.

Don’t think for a second that you’re going to win if you force people to choose between Flowers and you.

> you

It’s pretty straightforward, thought time intensive.

  1. Talk to those you know who’ve had kids recently in child care. Realize that most parents have an emotional investment in having made the “right” choice, and so nearly all of them will say they love where their kid is now – while childcare is frequently mediocre. You’ll need to politely look beyond that, and ask why.
  2. Visit and see what the kids do, how they like it, children per teacher, check there is no TV, etc.
  3. It’s good if they have some sort of income reductions for poor parents, as you’ll get a more diverse crowd of kids.
  4. Places that’ll help you hold the line on potty training and picking up are good. If it’s ok at school, some kids will think it’s ok at home too.
  5. Places that demand some level of parent involvement are good filter.
  6. You do get what you pay for, within limits. Beware of franchises, as they like to cut corners on things like food.
  7. Probably most important: Different kids want different environments. My two boys were markedly different in areas like attention span, desire to play alone vs. in a group, temperment, potty training, etc.

In the end it all comes down to visiting a bunch of places, and picking the one you (and to a lesser extent your kid, as they have little comparative experience) feel most comfortable with.

Whoah, if he gets about 1000 times more annoying than “kind of,” he might approach your level.

Ask other parents for recommendations. We talked to other parents in our neighborhood, then after narrowing down the choices visited each one. Ask some parents that attend each one what they think. Works for elementary school as well.

WTF? Flowers, that’s fucked up.

How old is he, Rimbo?

If he’s 3+, check out the Montessori schools. They’re not for every kid, but for some kids, it makes a huge difference. A lot of day cares are just “keep the kid occupied for the day,” where Montessoris can not only get them interested in learning on their own, they also teach kids to clean up after themselves. :)

Yeah, day cares / preschools fall into two rough categories: “jungle” aka “let the kids roam unsupervised”, and “educational” aka “provide an enriching environment with some (but not too much) structure”.

We toured one of the former. One little boy came right up to my wife and clung to her legs, he was so desperate for attention. It was apparent that the “caregivers” really didn’t actually care that much about the kids, and were just marking time. The thought of putting our little girl into that kind of environment made us both sick at heart.

My wife wanted to take some community college classes, so we decided, what the heck, let’s check out the community college’s childcare. Holy shit, was it great. It was where the students in the child education program did their labwork, so ALL the caregivers were actually studying early childhood education, and the senior teachers had been there for over a decade on average – and it showed. Our daughter LOVES it there; there’s lots for her to do, lots of little friends, and the teachers are on the ball in preventing fights or unsociability. (And the best part is the cost – $2 AN HOUR :-O My wife has to be physically on campus while our daughter is in the center, but that’s no problem!)

Soon we’re having another baby, so my wife won’t be able to go to classes for the fall semester, so we need another option for our girl. We’ve gotten her into a Montessori school that takes 2.5-year-olds. I’m a huge Montessori fan – went to one myself as a tyke – and this school seems really on the ball… very experienced teachers, very comfortable environment, really harmonious and enriching.

Definitely check everything out yourself, and pay special attention to the kids. Are they engaged? Are they playing together? Are the teachers really focused on them? Watch how the teachers interact with the kids. Are they communicating at the kids’ level? Are they able to redirect kids who are freaking out or throwing a tantrum? Or are they kind of just sitting there while everyone runs wild?