“Raise your hand if your parents took out a second mortgage to pay for this!”

Preschool. The word alone makes many folks shudder.

Remember when preschool was just a fun, easy-going prep thing kids were sent to the year before kindergarten, as a sort of bridge to help them adjust to what it’s like to be in a school environment?

These days, finding and getting your kid into a preschool can be downright traumatic. For some, it is war. A bloody war against other parents, other kids, preschools themselves, and against time. In this hilariously profanity-laden post about pre-school open house season (definitely NSFW) that went viral in the last couple of weeks, one dad vents his frustrations and anger at the whole preschool shebang. Having an infant myself, I can’t quite relate yet — though I have already had people ask me if I’ve thought about where I’ll send my now 10 month-old (to which I stared at them like they had spoken to me in pig latin).

I asked some other parents over the last week, and most seem to agree that the preschool wars don’t seem to be quite so extreme here as in other parts of the nation. The primary concern I encountered, which I’m sure applies to the vast majority of families across the country, is just the damn astronomical cost of it. Many of the parents I spoke to would have loved to put their kids (who clearly wanted and/or needed more stimulation and were ready for an educational environment) into preschool earlier but could not afford to do so.

So not only do we, as parents, get to scour the county for the preschool that most perfectly fits the criteria we’ve set for our kids (an extensive, exhausting check list in many cases) and beat out other parents or wait on waiting lists for 2+ years, but many have to break the bank for it to happen — or forego preschool altogether.

The folks I spoke to would love feedback from others in the area: experiences in finding preschools, opinions on cost (and theories on how to address the problem of cost), how well the school is structured and how it lives up to parents’ standards, etc.

So, folks: give us your almighty preschool advice! Tips/tricks for finding the best school for your kid, things to look for, suggestions for how to keep costs down, or just straight-up commiseration on how ridiculous the institution of preschool has become… tell us what you think!

Stephanie Ansley

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