Like far too many parenting decisions, choosing a preschool can be paralyzing. Studies show it’s crucial for future academic and social success, right? So how do you find the best preschool for your child – and for you? Here’s the best advice from those who’ve gone before you.
Keep your priorities in mind.
Find a preschool that is compatible with your life, distance, and schedule. What works for you as a parent, and for those who help you? It is such a hectic time!
Abi agrees. “Sit down and decide what the most important things for you are, when it comes to preschool. Security, curriculum, field trips, price, length of day. Whatever it might be, decide on what you feel is most important and then go from there. There’s a lot of options out there, but that doesn’t mean they’re all right for you and your child.”
And ask for input from others.
Allison, one of our readers, agrees with Abi. “Make a list of a few qualities that are important to you and focus on those – don’t feel like there is only one right decision! Preschool is so much about social interaction and creating a positive outlook on education. They will undoubtedly learn a few things along the way, but academics shouldn’t be the only, or even the primary concern.” And she adds, “Ask around! Don’t be afraid to talk to people you trust about where they send their kids.”
Also consider what’s nearby – some preschools are connected to the elementary schools your children will attend. “Make sure you don’t discount those,” one of our contributors offered. “Some are wonderful! And in some districts, preschool is free for many children.” Another reader liked that her child’s daycare option also offered preschool, so her child would be familiar with the kids and teachers as he learned and grew.
Trust your gut, and get first-hand experience.
Visit several programs and take your kiddos with you. If something doesn’t feel right, or if something feels like a good fit for you despite the reviews of others, remember that only you know what is best for your child and family.
Another reader offers this great tip: Tour the preschool during peak time periods to fully see how the children experience the center. A super-clean facility is one thing, but how the staff interacts with kids during the height of the day is vital information.
Then give yourself a break.
Megan T. reminded us, “You are choosing a preschool – NOT a final career path in life.” This was driven home when Rachel, another CSMB contributor asked her son what he liked most about preschool. His answer?
If that hysterical response isn’t enough to calm you down, consider Megan’s other piece of advice. “The purpose of sending your child to preschool is mostly social interaction and teaching each child how to coexist with others. Of course, learning takes place along the way, but it’s not as if choosing (or not choosing) a preschool will determine the fate of your child. The only thing that really matters is that the preschool you choose is a comfortable fit for both you and your child. While this decision may seem overwhelming, it really shouldn’t be.”
With those tips in mind, here are some of the Colorado Springs Moms Blog’s favorite preschools:
Lewis-Palmer offers great programs in their elementary schools, a great option for those who want their kids to go to the same school they’ll later attend in elementary. As one CSMB contributor told us, “we’ve had two children go through District 38’s preschool programs and have loved every moment. And when asked to describe their time there, they said, ‘YAY! Fun and learning every day!’” You can’t beat that!
Favorite aspect of their program: Proximity to home and caring teachers.
Allergy friendly? Yes.
Primrose School of Cottonwood Creek
Primrose has a daycare and a preschool program in the Woodmen/Dublin area. Abi shares why she chose Primrose:
“I was putting my infant son in part-time care, so security and communication were huge for me. The entire building at Primrose is locked down, which made this mama feel good about security. The rooms were happy and well-lit, and anyone walking down the halls could see into the rooms. When I would pick my son up, I would get a piece of paper with a schedule on it of everything he had done that day from eating and sleeping to diapers. And they also followed whatever schedule (eating, naps, etc.) I had him on (up until the child is a year old). There was also very little turnover in the staff, which told me that the environment there was a good one, and the workers enjoyed what they did. Most of the caregivers in my son’s room had been there 5 years or more.”
Favorite aspect of their program: “I loved that even with infants, they had a curriculum and crafts and activities they did with the kids,” Abi said. “He always seemed to be a happy boy when I would pick him up.”
Allergy friendly? Yes – you don’t bring food in. All the meals/snacks were provided to control what was in the building. You can provide breastmilk or pre-mixed formula (and cereal, when ready) for the little ones.
Springs Community Church
Allison, one of our readers, was looking for a preschool that was recommended by friends. “Springs Community Church had a schedule and location (Woodmen and Lexington) that worked for us, where my son could learn some new things, and that we could afford.”
Favorite aspect of their program: “Every day is intentional – they have lots of fun but it’s all on purpose and the learning comes out of that. They seem to thrive on the structure. Every day there is something they are focused on learning. And I love how much communication we get from the director and the teachers. My son would say he has fun and learns! He loves his teachers and all of the fun activities they do.”
Allergy friendly? Yes, all snacks must be nut free.
Little Sprouts Learning Center
One CSMB reader shares that Little Sprouts has a caring staff, clean environment, and individual attention for children at all levels – not only working in groups. They offer daycare, preschool, and a half-day kindergarten option at their north location (Academy and Vickers) and also have a location in Monument.
Favorite aspect of their program: Their inclusion of American Sign Language (ASL), Spanish, and Mandarin. They encourage appropriate use of technology and have plenty of opportunities to get outside to play. Her kiddos report they always have fun – the school has pets in many classrooms and chickens as well!
Allergy friendly? They serve 100% organic meals and are labeled as an Eco-Healthy Child Care provider, but there is no indication that they are nut free.
Holy Apostles Preschool
Holy Apostles offers kindergarten prep with their religiously affiliated and accredited program in northeast Colorado Springs (N. Carefree and Oro Blanco). Rachel, a CSMB contributor, appreciated that their program had small classes and multiple schedules, and she loved that the program was both established and affordable. That her kiddo described it as fun was a bonus!
Allergy friendly? Yes, it is peanut free and very respectful of all food allergies and sensitivities. I check the snack each day and sign off that it is safe for my son.
Hope Montessori Academy
If you are looking for a Montessori program, Hope Montessori Academy in the Rockrimmon area is a great option. One reader shares that they are “very accommodating to cloth diapers and encourage the child to learn and explore at their own learning speed. They are incredibly clean and the staff to child ratio is 6-1.” Her son “loves the exposure to the older kiddos in his classroom to watch them and learn from them.”
Favorite aspect of their program: Another reader “really liked that everyone at every level was involved in my child’s development, meaning everyone is all-hands-on-deck. They have the mentality that it takes a village, and that is something I appreciate and will help my child grow in a more holistic manner. It was also important that they are located relatively close to our home!”
Allergy friendly? Hope is a peanut friendly facility.
First Presbyterian Church Preschool
Megan was looking for a place that was close to her house and one who was comfortable with food allergies. “I like that First Pres Preschool not only teaches from an educational curriculum, but that they also are concerned with teaching the children to serve others through various projects.”
Favorite aspect of their program: “My sons love the variety of the lessons, the fact that they have music and chapel every week, and of course, recess.”
Allergy friendly? It is peanut/nut free. For other allergies, they require paperwork to be filled out. My son’s teacher watches him like a hawk to make sure he doesn’t accidentally eat someone else’s snack.
How about you? Any preschools you feel should be on this list? Comment below!