Today, I signed my 2-year old up for preschool in the fall. Yes, it's February 1st and I'm already planning my September. I've been planning it for several weeks. Squirty turns three in September, which means he will miss the normal cut off date for public schools around here. Technically, I could wait another year or two to enroll him. I mean, they don't require kids go to preschool until they're four and starting kindergarten the next fall. Squirty just needs more interaction with other kids and some outside adult instruction without my presence, so I started the selection process...
Now, I live in a pretty high-rent area between DC and Baltimore. Lots of well-paid people who want only the best for their little princes and princesses. That means there are lots of different types of schools and availability... but not necessarily openings.
First, you have to pick your type of school. There is a public option in our school district, but you have to be 4 by September 1st... so that was out for us. On to private preschools...
Now, the decision is religious or secular. There are so many different things from which to choose in our area. I'm Methodist and my husband is Catholic. I have no problem with religious schools. I would consider any of the many Christian or Jewish preschools in the area. I say those two, because I didn't come across any other religious-based schools within a decent driving distance for me. The Catholic schools required 3 by September 1st IF they had a 3s program. Most only had a 4s. The one Jewish school was very nice, but a little cost-prohibitive for us. Luckily, there are tons of Protestant preschools that have either a 2s program or an "early 3s" one. It's just a matter of picking the one that "fits" the best.
As for secular preschools, you have even more choices there sometimes. You could go co-op, where the parents have to be involved with the school both in the classroom and outside of it. You could go Montessori, with self-directed learning. You could go traditional academic. It's almost overwhelming. I knew Montessori wasn't for me. I teach my son in that method at home, so I wanted him to have a more directed method of teaching. With the traditional academic, I felt like I was sending my 2-year old to prep school, with uniforms and everything. I'm not ready for that. He's not ready for that. I liked the idea of a co-op. I have a strong science background and could help bring that to the classroom. I do like the fact that the parents run the school to a major extent. That could also have issues, though. What if you butt heads with the head of the board of directors? What if you have another child like I do? What are you supposed to do on your day to help? The cost of a co-op tends to be significantly lower than most other preschools.
There is the option of a home-based preschool. My sister runs one. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone in my area who does. I have trust issues when it comes to my kids, so I'd have to know the person pretty well to enroll a child in a home preschool. They are great for personal attention, though. I totally see the appeal.
Then, when you make your decision, sometimes you have to go wait in line to register your child. I did pick a school and enrolled my child for the fall. Open registration was at 10:30am this morning. Moms lined up at 6am. Seriously... 6am... I've heard of places where they go even earlier. I got there at 10:30 and got a spot in their 2-day 2.5s class. That wasn't anywhere near full, but the 4s were. I hope we made the right choice, but I won't know until Squirty has been in a few weeks or even months. I don't know how people make it through these things without beating themselves up that they chose correctly. I guess I can say to myself, "It's only a year... He has 2 more after it." I'm not looking forward to repeating this in 2 years with Milk Dud.