New Parent/Preschool 101

Hello, I'm a new mom and new to the world of baby education.

My kiddo is 8.5 months right now and we live in Temescal and folks told me already I'm late to the game of getting him enrolled for Preschool when he becomes 2.5/3 years old...(sort of freaking out). He was born in November which people say could be challenging too!???  Would anyone be able to give me the run-down on how the whole preschool research should ideally go? When should I start looking? Are there questions I should be considering (i.e. their hours for drop off, nutrition, etc)? How do I go about being added to waitlists? Do I just go online and email someone? Do they require to be potty trained by that time? What does the waitlist do if everyone's doing it... I'd love any insight because I'm so confused and there isn't really a one-stop shop of how to do this.

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RE: New Parent/Preschool 101 ()

Don't freak out! Just google "preschools near me" and start looking a websites to get an idea of what is out there and what the ages/requirements/costs/hours are. You have plenty of time. When my daughter started preschool at age 20 months, I did not have a car so where ever she ended up had to be a reasonable walking distance to our apartment. This was actually great because it narrowed down my search to about four preschools. I choose the one that was full day and that I could afford, did not have a waiting list, and it was so great she stayed until she started kindergarten.

RE: New Parent/Preschool 101 ()

I put my kid on a prominent preschool's waiting list at age 1, and she never got accepted, up to age 4.  That said, there is always space in plenty of good, local preschools!  Pick a few that are near you, schedule a visit, and see how they feel to you.  It's an instinct thing, I think--watch the employees interacting with the kids.  Does everyone look happy?  Or at least being tended to if not?  Does the space seem inclusive and safe?  Are the caregivers involved, or sitting on their cell phones?  Does the space seem warm, clean, and well-equipped?  All three of my kids ended up going to different preschools, for different reasons.  They were all fine, and they all gave my kids school experience before Kindergarten.  Don't worry about the hype.  Just trust your gut.  

RE: New Parent/Preschool 101 ()

First of all, you're not too late. Many families I know started looking the year before desired start date. So you'd start touring schools this fall if you wanted your child enrolled next fall (2020). Even if you start later, it'll be ok. I started looking for schools in March 2018 with a somewhat flexible start date (Sept/Oct/Nov 2018), toured only three schools and got offered a space in each. So it's totally doable, though more stressful if you start later. 

And yes, it's overwhelming! I'd start by defining some must haves and would be nice criteria. Do you want a year around program or do camps for the summer? Immersion? Mixed age classrooms? Do want to walk to school or drive? I used Winnie.com to find preschools that matched most of my criteria and then called/emailed only those schools for more infos and toured very few. Many preschools require your child to be potty trained, but there are a few that don't - I literally started with potty learning the day I got the call from our preschool; don't fret, you'll be fine. Feel free to send me a PM if you have more questions. 

RE: New Parent/Preschool 101 ()

I don't think you're late. Here is a recent thread on the subject: https://www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org/questions/when-should-we-start-lo...

I'd start looking around 1 year prior to the school year you're trying to start. For example, if your preschool starts in August, start getting in touch w/ your preferred schools in September or October of the year prior. They typically do tours in November, and enrollment is often complete by the end of the year. Of course, if there is anywhere you're really set on, call them now and get their advice as to when to get back in touch! I'm sure each school knows exactly when to enroll or join their wait-list, etc. 

Our preschool (Ducks Nest) takes kids starting at 2 years old, and the school year starts in August, so that's what people might have meant by a November birthday being tricky - depending on the strictness of the school, perhaps some places wouldn't take your son until he was 2yrs + 9 mos old... I seem to remember there being at least one young child that first year of school for us, who was admitted when they were "almost 2", so it must depend on the preschool. Also, Ducks Nest does not require them to be potty trained - some schools do. Just start reading reviews and making some preliminary calls. Hang in there! It will all work out!

RE: New Parent/Preschool 101 ()

As a mother of a preschooler, I would advise you to take a deep breath, and not freak out. Even if you call preschools now, they'd most likely ask you to check in later, when your child is older. Also, what preschool is right for your child depends a whole lot on his temperament, which you're not going to know at 8.5 months. Would he benefit from more structure, or less? Mixed-age class, or a school where different ages are in different rooms? No way you can know that now. We applied the fall before our son would start (in Rockridge), and it all went  smoothly. Don't stress. 

RE: New Parent/Preschool 101 ()

Hi, it seems to be a Bay Area pastime—freaking out about preschool. Welcome! I will say that we were in your situation 2 years ago and had no problem getting accepted to several preschools for my nov birthday 2 year old. We also got waitlisted at some. I did 0 preparation leading up to application season January prior to start. Bananas should have a list of schools. They differ based on when they start (age 2, 2.9, 3), fall start versus rolling, whether they require potty training, and hours. I would say figure out what you need as far as age, hours, location, and that may narrow it down. Then tour some places and you’ll get a better feel for how they differ. You’ll find something. Even if you do no prep ahead of tile you’ll probably find a school that is newer, or starting a new classroom, or has a kid move aaay the month prior to school starting...

RE: New Parent/Preschool 101 ()

I'd love to see other parents weigh in, too! My daycare (CEC) also has pre-school, so we are planning to use them unless something changes. I haven't seen any evidence-based data that academic preschools have superior outcomes when compared play-based preschools, so I'm going for the play-based enjoyment that my daughter will get from her current daycare/school. My daycare/school has a waitlist of about 1 year, but they sometimes get people in sooner if there is a spot that opens that needs to be filled at a specific age group. I have heard other parents say this about waitlists as well, so be sure to keep in touch with the list-keeper!