When My daughter was 2 I decided to work part time and put her into a Montessori pre-school/child care. She didn't like it very well at first but after a short time she began to LOVE going there. They worked on practical life skills like balance, threading a string through a hole, and transferring things from one bowl to another with a spoon. This was all in addition to the number and letter recognition. So it is not all work and no play. A good pre-school should also incorporate a lot of musical education as well.
I think it was a great move because her social skills and manners got a lot of reinforcement and practice. She still had the primary influence of home, but she was able to thrive in social situations as well (my friends daughter of the same age is still ultra clingy and scared of anything and anyone new.)
I am in education, a school counselor, and I work with kinder gardeners on a regular basis. I can definitely tell which ones have had the socialization skills and are used to the educational setting. They get off to a much earlier start and stay ahead well into the upper elementary grades.
The key is to interview schools and teachers thoroughly. Find a place that has a similar philosophy to yours on discipline, education, family, manners, potty training techniques, etc. I went to about 12 schools before I found my daughters. I was very happy with it and would recommend it any day. If you are near Yorba Linda I went to Ivy Crest Montessori!