Preschool: Considering Costs, Quality, and Location
Preschool costs in the United States are rising at an alarming rate. In fact, for some families, enrolling their child in preschool may cost as much as college tuition. In some cases, preschool rates may be nearly the same as your mortgage payment.
Preschool is not to be confused with daycare centers. Preschool is specifically designed for children between the ages of 2 and 6, while daycare centers enroll children of many varying ages ranging from infants to elementary school-aged children. Preschools can be government sponsored or privately run. In addition, preschool curriculum focuses on a specific educational approach and kindergarten readiness, whereas most daycares may be more childcare oriented than educational. This makes preschool a more expensive option than other types of care.
Preschool costs can range from $3,800 to $10,900 annually according to the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies. How much you can expect to pay for preschool is dependent upon a variety of factors.
Quality and Services of the Preschool
Your preschool costs will vary depending upon the quality of the preschool and the services offered. You will pay more for high-quality, stimulating curriculum that focuses on kindergarten-readiness. In addition, for those preschools that adhere to the strictest of requirements for quality and safety, like smaller class sizes, you will pay big bucks. If the school offers specialty services like second language learning or unique health and nutrition services, you will also pay a higher price. The cost of the facility and transportation services may also affect price.
Part-time vs. Full-time Care
If your child is enrolled in preschool for a full day every day, your costs will be significantly higher than if your child is enrolled part time or only attends a few days per week.
The centers costs will vary depending upon your location in the United States, since the cost of living and daycare costs go hand-in-hand. Alabama and Nevada are the most affordable states while the District of Columbia and Massachusetts have the highest annual average preschool rates.
One way to reduce preschool costs is to enroll your child in a cooperative preschool, or “co-op” preschool. The cooperative preschool program is a nonprofit organization that requires parent participation. A qualified teacher, director, and staff are often employed, but parents are relied upon to run the school and assist in the classroom on a rotational basis. Parents also conduct the nonprofit business of the preschool. This is a less expensive, yet high-quality option.
When choosing a preschool program it is important to consider, in addition to cost, your child's needs, the quality of the program, the preschool's physical environment, and the qualifications of the staff.