It seems like everywhere I go, everyone is talking about preschool recently. Apparently January is the month to start looking for preschools (who knew?). The thing is many schools start registration in February or March and the good ones fill up fast. We’ve decided enroll the little one in preschool in the fall and it’s a huge decision. I’m full of nerves – am I making the right decision? Is this decision going to affect him for the rest of his life?

While our family is all for being frugal, we’re willing to pay for our kid’s education – it’s just one of those things that we feel is worth it. But some preschools are just ridiculously expensive – there’s no way we can hack it. Besides, even if we could, we’d like to save that cash for, you know, college. So we’re in the midst of trying to find the best preschool at the lowest price. Here’s how we’re doing it.

Set your priorities

What are you looking for in a preschool? Do you want a specific learning approach (like Montessori or Waldorf)? Do you want something that’s right around the corner or are you willing to drive further for something really great. Determine what’s most important to you and your child and keep these priorities at the forefront in your search. For me, the specific style of school isn’t so important as long as I like the general vibe of the school. That’s why visiting the schools you’re interested in is key.

Ask around

The best place to find preschools for less is your friends. All of the places I’ve looked at so far were at the recommendations of others. Moms really do know best! Chances are someone you know knows someone who has had experience with pretty every preschool in the area. Don’t be afraid to ask about prices. In my experience, moms aren’t shy about this kind of thing. If they found a great deal, they want to share that knowledge. If you’re new to an area, reach out to community services – like schools and libraries. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Go public

Public schools are usually the least expensive around. One of my favorite preschools we’ve toured so far is connected with a nearby town’s recreation program. Since it’s a non-profit, the school is easy on the wallet. Plus, it’s a really nice school with a great educational program. We’re not 100% sold on this school, but it’s definitely a front runner.

Look for scholarships

While public preschools are usually the cheapest, some private schools offer scholarships or sliding scales for lower income families. I haven’t had personal experience with this, but friends of mine have saved thousands with tuition assistance. Churches also offer discounts to parishioners on their preschool programs – to the tune of 10 to 15 percent off.

What are some of the ways you save on preschool? Also, do you think every kid needs preschool? I’d like to do another post on this because long story short, I don’t.

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