Preschool Prep from a Dad’s Point of View
By Dedicated Dad
Believe it or not, the back-to-school talk is starting to ramp again. And who would have thought that it applies to my 2-and-a-half-year-old toddler? After barely graduating from bottle to sippy cup, my young son now has his own backpack, lunchbox and daily planner. Yes, I am officially the father of a first-time preschooler.
So from a dad’s point of view, what does that mean?
For one thing, cost. In my home, I always keep a close eye on the bills, and Pre-K’s can charge as much as $1,000 a month! I consider that a hefty expense, but in the world of early education $1,000 is deemed fair and reasonable (especially if kids need to stay beyond the typical 8 a.m. to noon day).
Fortunately, the magic of Google helped me profile price structures in my local Valley neighborhood. There were a few deluxe “break-the-bank” schools, full of fancy classrooms and state-of-the-art learning centers, and a large number of mom-and-pop facilities (at around $400 a month), where the toys looked like recycled goods from my 1980’s childhood. So, tightening up our purse strings a bit, my wife and I decided on a mid-grade $700 preschool, which had all of the basics and only a few of the bells and whistles.
Many of my lifelong friendships were formed within my first 5 years.
Another important factor for the fathers I know is location. Let’s face it: Even if your wife or family members have the ability to drive your child to preschool, there will be times when it will fall on Dad’s shoulders. So make sure to take your work commute into consideration and ask yourself, “Is this preschool an easy addition to my route?” If (God forbid) there were an emergency, would you be able to quickly leave the office and get to the school without any Carmageddon-style traffic situations? It’s definitely a point worth considering.
Finally, and most importantly, ask yourself if this is a school that my child will love. It may sound hard to believe, but many of my lifelong friendships were formed within my first 5 years. If I’m sending my son to a school with a bunch of strangers, I want to be sure that he’s in an environment that’s comfortable and has a great network of people.
My advice would be to do a little snooping. Visit the campus, read its Yelp reviews, and try to meet other parents. Most preschools offer full tours, which is something I highly recommend. In our case, we brought our son with us and let him test his comfort level in the new surroundings. We explored the classrooms, the sandbox and (best of all) the giant monster truck toy chest.
Thankfully, I believe we found a good fit. But I know that the preschool hunt can be challenging and time consuming. Regardless, I recommend doing your due diligence and making a careful, well-thought-out choice. These early years are crucial, so make sure your child’s in a place where he or she can flourish and be happy.
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