Nolan's first #preschool tour. How do you know you've found the right one?!? #motherhood

We can't believe it's time to have the conversation about preschool.

But it is.

Nolan is going to be the required 2 years and 9 months old in March and we want him to have two full years of preschool before Kindergarten, which means he needs to start this fall.

Which also leads me to ask the question: how do you know you've found the right one?

There are so many factors to consider, how does anyone ever narrow it down?

David and I started with the basics that were important to us:

1. Proximity to where we live
I spent an hour of every day Emily was in preschool driving back and forth to drop her off, go about my day and then, pick her up. Talk about a waste of time! I'd really prefer something close that I can walk to or that is within 1-2 miles. Luckily, where we live, there are preschools on nearly every major corner.

2. A morning 8:00am - 12:00pm schedule
I'd love to have both kids gone to school in the mornings so that I have the flexibility to volunteer in either school. Also, they both really look forward to our afternoons together at the parks, at swim lessons, hanging with friends so, I want them both home in the afternoons. Lastly, with Nolan still napping from about 12:00pm - 3:00pm every day, I'm not interested in paying a facility to watch him sleep.

3. Help with potty-training
Nolan isn't potty-trained. We have yet to even begin the process. Though we plan to as Spring approaches,  I cannot be under the pressure to have a perfectly potty-trained child. This was my experience with Emily and it was really frustrating for all of us. I'm not interested in bathroom accidents being at the center of daily feedback from his teachers  either! I've always given my kids the room to grow and develop on their own time and have avoided a few battles this way.

4. A small class size
Nolan is really sensitive, tender, loving, and gentle. He likes having mom, dad, or Emily close by. We fear he would get lost in a larger school as he can be quite shy and doesn't speak up very often outside of the comfort of his family. Plus, public school around here is up to 32 kids per class without classroom aids - he'll have a lifetime to adjust to that environment and to be pulled out of his shell by his teachers, he doesn't need it now.

5. A play-based philosophy with some structured activities and learning for a portion of the day
Nolan is still so young, I feel like there's plenty of time to learn his ABCs and really want a school that focuses on the social aspect of school. He's just learning to take turns and share and has only recently been exposed to children who hit and kick (you should've seen his face, he was stunned!). I want him to gain an understanding of how to interact with other kids and what to do when he's feeling frustrated.

6. A school with lots of opportunity to do whatever he wants!
Again, he has a lifetime of school ahead of him, I want him to have the chance to run around and play while learning all those little social graces about playing with others. I want him to play with clay, to shoot baskets, to push a doll stroller, to build with blocks, and to color. And not just while sitting properly at a table or quietly by himself.

So, with all those must-haves, going into preschool tours for me today meant checking off those boxes quickly and focusing on staff experience & credentials and how they communicate with parents and the kids; how the children were interacting with each other and what they were playing with; the cost, the daily schedule and their availability; their discipline philosophy; and safety of the facility.

I have to tell ya, this school I toured this morning exceeded my expectations and had everything I could have ever wanted in a preschool. I am impressed! I wish David could've seen it but he had an early meeting that we found out about after we made this tour appointment.

They made us feel right at home and Nolan took off happily to play with the other kids and all the outdoor toys. He only came looking for me once and when he found me he pointed at me and said; "hi, mama!" and ran off again. He wasn't timid about jumping right in!

They have only one opening right now (they only take 12 children) and I winced a little at the $670 per month price for only three 8-12:00pm days a week.

We are hoping to look at at least three more before we decide.

Wish us luck!


  1. Preschool! That's crazy! Henry's birthday is in November, so he will have a whole other year after Nolan goes before he starts school. I love your expectations for a preschool experience. It drives me bonkers when people are obsessing about their 2-year-olds learning letters :). Sounds like you will have plenty of preschool options to choose from. That's great!

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah - I value your input so much and appreciate our friendship! :) I've already done this once so it was a little easier this time around to figure out what our priorities are.

  2. Finding the right preschool can definitely be tough! With everything you're looking for, I was going to suggest a Montessori setting but it sounds like you've found a great place. I did have to gasp at the cost though...where I live in FL we paid $125/month for 2 days a week, 9-Noon!

    1. Thank you so much for the suggestion - we are actually touring two Montessori preschools to find out about their program and how they differ from a traditional, play-based preschool. Yes, the prices are outrageous... it's really difficult for a lot of families to afford more than one year of preschool around here.


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