Last minute search for preschool is nerve wracking!
This summer, I focused on a preschool search for my three year old, and it gave me the jitters. I should have used this time to get my son ready for preschool. Instead, I started looking at the last minute and finally found a school that I felt good about. How did I do it? Here is my story as well as helpful tips and resources to help you with your last minute search.
I had searched for preschools before. Ten years ago, I looked at preschools for my daughter and the process seemed easier. However, a lot has changed in a decade. My daughter attended a wonderful nursery school that is now closed, preschool tuition has increased, and my childcare routine changed. So where to begin?
I needed an affordable program offering classes five days a week with proximity to my job and my babysitter’s home. Searching for preschools should probably begin in January; I began in May.
Yes, you read right, May! I remember talking to a friend, who works at a local preschool, and telling her I wanted my son to attend her school. She asked, “Where you at the parents’ meeting for new students a couple of days ago?” I shook my head. She hesitated and said, “You should call on Monday and speak to the Director. I think there is already a wait list.” I kicked myself as soon as she said that. Why did I wait so long to find a preschool?
Immediately, I searched online and made a list of five preschools that fit the criteria aforementioned. A wait list existed for the first two preschools. The third one was excellent but cost was high and program hours too long. The fourth required a registration fee, application fee, and money for supplies and PTA membership. The fifth one was affordable, but it was more daycare than preschool. Seeing that the first two would be our best fit, I submitted paperwork and hoped for the best. Two months later, I received an email from one of the preschools informing me that they had an opening for my son.
I shared my story to another friend the same day I received the email. She told me about another preschool in the area which offered morning classes five days a week. I had not come across this particular preschool on the Internet or during conversations with others. After contacting the Director and discussing the program, my son and I visited the school. I knew after the visit that this preschool was right for him.
My son is ready for preschool and looking forward to making friends. I am very happy for him and RELIEVED that he will be in a good program at an affordable price and great location. However, we have another hurdle to overcome. While reading the “Welcome to Preschool” packet, I read the following, “children must be potty trained.” Potty training began immediately and with a week to go before school begins, he is almost fully trained. Hopefully, he will not have any accidents once school begins and I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Everyday, I remind my son about school and what to expect when he attends. His grandmother bought him a book bag with his name embroidered on it, and he is excited to use it on the first day. Searching for a preschool and potty training was definitely hectic. I am just happy that it worked out.
Below are several tips and helpful websites that helped during the process.
- Talk to you friends and neighbors about your preschool search. Sometimes they know of leads that are not necessarily found in your own research. This is what happened to me. The school my son will attend moved and they had not made their website live yet.
- Register to receive newsletters from your local school district. You will receive information throughout the year for when to register for universal pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.
- Call each preschool directly to speak to the Director and schedule a tour of the school. I found the tours to be a good experience for me and my son. He enjoyed seeing kids learn and play.
- Get a school district calendar. Most preschools follow the local public school calendar and inclement weather guidelines.
- As the school year approaches, talk to your preschooler about school and what to expect, read books and watch videos on preschools.
- Don’t forget to take a picture of your preschooler on their first day!
http://www.westchestertowns.com/htm/lnk/Link0265.html – provides a list of preschools throughout the county and their phone numbers. (This list may not reflect all preschools in the county)
http://www.p12.nysed.gov/upk/upkdirectory.html#A – For those of you who have kids turning 4 years old, there is now Universal Pre-Kindergarten. The directory in this website will help you find more information about a program in a particular school district in New York State. Every school district may not be listed.
http://www.childcarewestchester.org/services/parents/paying-for-care – Childcare is expensive, regardless of where you live. This website will give you information on resources available to help you pay for childcare.
http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/preschoolers/ – general information for parents with children with special needs.
http://www.hudson211.org/zf/profile/search?keyword=special+preschools&popular_searches=&agency_name=&age=&distance_zip=&location=Westchester&area_served=&taxonomy_name=&taxonomy_code=&dosearch=1&Search=Search – list of special preschool services throughout Westchester County.