Choosing Preschools

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you consider your options for preschool.

  • Attend every open house that you are remotely interested in – This is the best way to get a feel for the school and the staff. At open houses, there may be a presentation about the philosophy of the school, a chance to meet current families and a tour to view classrooms. I think it would be very difficult to make decisions without this piece. Take advantage of any options that are provided. Some schools give private tours or offer families that are happy to speak about the programs by phone. You want as much information as possible.
  • Compare the schools you are interested in by brochures and websites – The reason is that this is often the school’s best foot forward. This should provide a summary of their philosophy and highlights of their programs. Brochures have been well edited, and the language has been poured over. Brochures and websites should feel like a good fit with your family.
  • Speak with current families – You can often ask for a list from the school, but you might also just ask around on the local playgrounds or ask for families on list-serves like D.C. Urban Moms ( When you do connect with families, ask them for the high and low points, ask about parent-teacher communication and any difficulties they experienced. You are looking for well-rounded feedback.
  • Apply to a few more than you think necessary – It is still the case each year that there are children who end up not getting into preschool. Have a back-up plan or two.
  • Learn about and consider various approaches – There are big differences between Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Montessori, Play-based, Hi-Scope, Cooperative and Religious based programs. Find out about these and weigh your options.

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

One thought on “Choosing Preschools”

  1. I really like how you talked about attending preschool open houses to get to know the people involved with the school. I’m currently looking for a preschool for my daughter and I didn’t even know that they did open houses! I just want a school where my daughter can learn and grow and be comfortable, so hopefully checking out some preschool open houses can help us out with that!

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