SO Many Questions Regarding Preschool Search

Updated on June 18, 2009
I.P. asks from Redwood City, CA
23 answers

Hi Folks,

***Update*** - Thanks for all the replies so far. I wanted to update my request by saying I live in Redwood City on the border with Atherton and would be interested in preschools in Redwood City, Menlo Park, Atherton, Foster City (near my work), and perhaps San Carlos (near husband's work). Thank you for all your messages!!!! Any suggestions on particular preschools is greatly appreciated. ***

Have not posted in a while. I have a 20-month old and realized that I need to start looking into preschools and I am nervous and have so many questions! First, anyone have a good website that has a comprehensive/full view of Preschools? Second, when do toddlers begin preschool typically? My son has had a nanny since he was 11 months old and he loves her. My dilemma in starting to look at preschools is that I have noticed that most preschools are only for half-days. That would be an issue for me since my nanny currently works form 8am till 5:45pm and I really need that given both parents work. Do most of you take your children to preschool and then have a nanny for the rest of the time? I would not want to have my son go from preschool to daycare....unless of course, someone can give me some good reasons for that. Anyway sorry for the longwinded post but I am only starting now and feel that I should have started this research ages ago....

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S.P.

answers from Sacramento on

Creative Frontiers in Citrus Heights is great. they take 2 years and up (potty trained to mostly go in the toilet, please) and are a full day; 6:30am to 6pm. they serve great lunches and snacks and are friendly. this is not a high brow exclusive school and most of us parents were drawn to the school because of the 'country' like atmosphere of having animals on site. I started my oldest at 3.5 years and she has continued for private school. my youngest will start this fall at 3.5 years. she would be there already but i have not wanted to take income from my friend/sitter. you can email me if you have more questions at [email protected]____.com

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B.R.

answers from Sacramento on

The main reason for preschool is to help the child socialize. You don't really need to put him in a preschool if your nanny can get him involved in group activities. Look at your local parks and recreation schedules to see if there are classes offered that she can take him to. Have her take him to a park where he can play with other children under her supervision. Get him involved in classes at a local church or community center.
Does your nanny work with him on speech and learning activities? She can do a lot in the way of teaching him academic things at home, and get him into enough social activities that you wouldn't even need to worry about a 'formal' preschool situation.. and I'd guess the nanny would appreciate the job security that would give her!

If you need some ideas for learning activities for the nanny to use, I suggest online help from SchoolExpress.com
I also like the Mailbox magazine (preschool edition) for ideas. You can find a lot of help online by putting in a search for "Preschool curriculum". Your nanny probably has had training and knows how to do the educational things anyway, but these are places I have found helpful.

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T.S.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi I.,

Typically, preschools that are part of a childcare center have the same hours as the center (even if the "academic part of the day is only in the morning") so you may want to look into some of the local centers.

True preschool generally starts at 3 and potty trained, but younger children (2)are typically included in a toddlers class that is a cross between preschool and day care. Those classes usually potty train and teach kids to follow directions, sit in circle (for very short periods) etc. so that they are ready for the routines in preschool.

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E.C.

answers from San Francisco on

many pre schools have the option of paying for extended care (earlier drop off and/or later pick up) so you would not have to have your child moved from preschool to a separate daycare facility. So when you start looking in to preschools, ask them if they have an extended care option.

1 mom found this helpful

C.C.

answers from Fresno on

Hi I.,
I've always found the best way to find a great preschool is to ask other parents whose parenting style is similar to yours. You also want to take your child's personality into account - for instance if your child is particularly rambunctious, you'll want a preschool that focuses on outdoor play, lots of "big" art projects, not too many rules, things like that. If your child can sit still and focus for a long time, or is a bit more introspective, maybe you want to look for a preschool that focuses more on academic type stuff. We looked at a bunch of schools for both kids, and schools that other people loved just didn't seem right for our kids - so it's really a gut decision on your part in the end.

What we did was wait until we felt our daughter was outgrowing her nanny, and then we put her in preschool full time. For my older daughter, that was when she turned 2. She really needed the companionship of other children at that point, and LOVED preschool. Our younger daughter started at 3, and for her we found we needed a school that was way more structured than what we'd found perfect for our older daughter. She had a much harder time with the transition, but after a year, she's really into it and loves it.

In both cases, we specifically looked for a preschool that had an "extended day" - in other words, they'd feed the kids lunch and put them down for nap, rather than being done for the day at 11:30am. I've found that preschools that only offer half-day are really not geared toward working parents, so it's best to find one that offers a daycare option. Once your child is ready to be "out in the big wide world" away from home, they can generally handle day care just fine. I suppose if your nanny wants fewer hours, then you could sign up for the half-day and have her pick up your son from preschool - but to me that seems overly complicated. Life's hard enough when you work full time for your child care to be too crazy!

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J.H.

answers from Sacramento on

IMHO Montessori preschools are the best option for children. You may pay a little more, but to me it is worth it. Many of them have extended day child care. The preschool day lasts half day, but they have child tending from 6am to 6pm to help fit your needs. My son went to one at 18 mo for that full year (I was working, now I'm not). He loved it! I had to pay a little more also, because he was in diapers. I paid $735 per month. I will probably go back to work again soon, and I'll put him back into the Montessori environment. Google Montessori Method of education and you can get lots of information. It's all about following the child, respecting the child, and understanding the child's capacity to learn complex concepts. Good Stuff!

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J.C.

answers from San Francisco on

In terms of a complete list of of licensed preschools, daycare, and family daycare, check out Community Care Licensing (a CA state website--you can google it). They also have a phone number you can call to check on any complaints or issues during the licensing inspections. Your county should also have a childcare referral agency--in Alameda County it is BANANAS. Good luck!

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J.G.

answers from San Francisco on

I do not know of a web site that would give you a list of daycares but i do know that many places are a daycare that is preschool based. I dont know where you live but i have check out the web sites for Kidango, Kindercare, and I also looked in the phone book for my area. My daughter is going to be going into a full time preschool/daycare in August. and is open from 6am to 6pm. They have a 2,3 and 4 year old class. Good luck.

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P.R.

answers from San Francisco on

There seem to be a lot of different opinions, even some saying what school is "best", but my 2 cents since we also have a nanny and live in your area. We started my oldest in preschool at 2 for two or three days a week and I do think that's about the youngest that can be called preschool vs daycare - and even then it's likely the same thing. I partly did it bc I already had #2 when she was 15.5 mos but also bc she was super social. My youngest could easily have waited as she's happier on her own. So one thing I'd consider is your son's personality. Does he seek out other kids a lot or is content just playing alone or with your nanny? Preschool at this age is definitely not a necessity. But, many good preschools around us have long waiting lists so you should at least get on some. As for whether to cut back your nanny or not, some nannies need full time pay and if you cut her back, she may quit after a couple of months when she finds full-time again. And there will be days when your son is sick and can't go and then likely you'll have to miss work. Or, maybe he just doesn't want to go one day. Nice to let kids that age stay home if they want. Finally, we've had nanny help to the point of overkill but they pick-up some household chores along the way. ie: when your son is in school, she can do the grocery shopping or light cleaning around the house, maybe a bit of dinner prep. Adds to total cost but if you can afford it, means you can focus on your son more when you're home.

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E.B.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi I.,
You have gotten some great responses. Preschool is not mandatory, kindergarten is at age 5. Preschool is primarily for social skills and some prep work for school like listening and following instructions. As long as your Nanny can expose him to play groups and works with him, don't worry about preschool for another year. Wait until he is 4. This gives you time to talk to other parents and visit some schools. Most have extended programs for working parents. Or, maybe by then, your Nanny can work afternoons for you. Good luck.

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K.L.

answers from San Francisco on

Hello-our children (twin B/G who are now 5.5)had their nanny since 9 weeks old when I went back to work. We sent the kids to preschool at 2 years old and our preschool was from 7am-6pm. It was a Montessori school. We really had no need for a FT nanny, so we shifted her to PT and she dropped off the kids in the morning.

WHere do you live?
K.

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L.O.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi I.,

Most children are not ready for preschool until they are two and a half years old and even then (depending on the child) that may be too early. Typically by the time a child is three years old and potty trained they would be ready for preschool. Have you thought about a home daycare? Many home daycares offer a preschool curriculum for children two years and older. The programs (there are many) that home daycares use are the same as many centers. With a home daycare you would be able to have your child in one place while you are at work, instead of worring about having to have them picked up in the middle of the day. They get to be around other children like a center but there are fewer children (up to 8 in a small home daycare and up to 14 in a large home daycare) which allows for more quality one on one time. Oh, and cost... home daycares tend to be more affordable than centers. Good luck in your decission, you've still got some time. =)

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J.A.

answers from Sacramento on

Really you just need to decide what type of program will work best for your family. There are so many different options available.

Traditionally kids have started preschool two years before they start kinder. If kids go to a preschool only they tend to go 2 to 3 days a week for 3 to 4 hours. This is great for those families it works for, but it doesn't work for all families.

Many childcare centers have preschool as part of their program. You would be able to get all day care at one. But generally the preschool part is still only in the morning, the rest of the day is generally childcare.

If you are happy with your nanny, I would keep your child with her until he is at least potty trained and close to 3. Personally I think 2 years of preschool is just the right amount.

Visit lots of places and talk with friends. You will know when you find the right place.

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K.L.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi there-
I can really relate to you! I have a 20 month old son. He had been in daycare since 4 months old but then his provider retired - we are SO sad about that! So he is in a new daycare with 3 other kids his age. For right now it works well for him - more of a "pre-pre school environment", but still in someone's home with nap time, etc. Plus I need care all day too (7:30-5:30) and she can do that for me.

I did look into pre-preschools but they were pretty pricy - Carden West (pleasanton) and Larson's Children Center (danville) - which I loved but was a little too out of our way. They have an infant center and then a pre-school - one of my co-workers takes her son there and swears by it. And they take him all day which is nice.

You may want to check out www.eastbaypreschools.com - that's been a good resource for me.

For us, we decided to put the pre-school thing on hold for just a little bit - I don't think our son is ready just yet. But we will probably revist the idea in 4-6 months and see where he is at.

Hope that helps! Let me know what you decide to do... I'm curious!

K. (pleasanton)

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C.L.

answers from Yuba City on

Hi I.,
My husband and I also work full-time. Our daughter has attended Fusion Preschool Academy in Yuba City since she was two years old. Their hours are 6:30am-6pm, Monday through Friday. She is now 3 1/2 and we are planning on enrolling her in kindergarten in Fall of 2010 (she will turn 5 in October). They also have a facility in Olivehurst, which has an infant center. The curriculum is designed to get the kids ready for kindergarten, while teaching them in an age-appropriate manner. My daughter's vocabulary has improved VASTLY since enrolling them. Check them out on www.fusionkids.com.
Good luck!

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M.F.

answers from Salinas on

I think its such an individual difference and depends on your nanny's schedule flexibility. If your son is 20 months now he probably won't be eligeable for programs until the fall of '10. If its anything like where I am it would be a good idea to get him on a bunch of waiting lists and then decide when its closer.also usually local mommy and me type programs will have good recommendations for your area

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D.C.

answers from Fresno on

I'm not sure where you live, but I started my daughter in preschool at 3-1/2 (www.kidskare.net). They are open from 6:30 to 6 or 6:30, so you pay for the time you plan on spending there. They even have pre and post-school programs for older kids.

Good luck with your search!

T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

If your son is happy with your nanny then preschool is really not necessary. I would just make sure he gets a chance to socialize with other kids his own age, at the park, etc. More organized socialization can happen in classes like kindergym. Check out youre local community center/YMCA. I'm sure your nanny would enjoy getting out and taking him to these classes/activities, too.
When your son is about 3 to 4 years old make sure he spends time every day drawing, cutting, painting, gluing, etc. Those are the fine motor skills he'll need to be ready for kindergarten. And of course, learning his numbers and letters (which most kids naturally absorb from their favorite books.)

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

if you're looking for a preschool that operates as a preschool for an eight hour day, I don't think you'll find one. Just like in kindergarten, preschool is only a half day because the kids cannot stay focused that long and they get extremely tired. Most people who work find a preschool/daycare situation where both are provided. If you don't want to do that, perhaps cut your nanny's hours back so she picks the child up from preschool and then cares for him until you get home. As far as I know, those are about your only two choices.

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K.M.

answers from San Francisco on

2 things: check out www.savvysource.com for preschool ratings/reviews/listings. Also, my older daughter went to the Wonder Years in San Carlos. You can drop off as early as 7:30 and pick up til 6pm.

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S.S.

answers from Yuba City on

Hi I., lots of advice so far, just wanted to let you know that we decided to go with a preschool that had a behavior specialist, we found one at a local college (not in your area). Turns out that this preschool is state run which is a plus because they run all day long,(we don't need that but... most parents have their kids their 8 hrs or longer) and the rate is based off of your pay instead of hourly or whatever, apparently there are programs through the state if you're a single mom or dad or if you're job searching whatever.. my friend got free tution because she's not married to her daughters father.. ??.. The preschool is awesome, I went shopping around for one seems like forever... it's worth looking into! Good luck!

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S.H.

answers from San Francisco on

My children have been attending a Montessori school that takes children at 18 months to 6 years. It is full time. There is also a school in Berkeley, Model School, that takes children from 3 months to 6 years. There are a lot of options, but not sure where you live. My children have done very well and been well prepared at Montessori schools and they do offer full time schedules. Good luck.

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K.G.

answers from San Francisco on

Check out the website below:

http://www.savvysource.com/

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