How Much Does Preschool Cost? Let’s Break Down the Options.

Parents are in search of preschool for a variety of unique reasons. Most commonly, parents need child care as they return to work. Other common reasons are to socialize their child or have them learn in an enriching group environment. Regardless of the motive, parents want to place their child in an environment that supports their child’s mental, physical, and social-emotional health, establishes a school routine to better prepare them for kindergarten, and most importantly, creates fun memorable experiences. In the hunt for child care, every parent asks themself: how much does preschool cost? We’re here to break down the different types of preschool, their costs, and if it’s all worth it. Let’s dive in. 

How much does preschool cost?

Preschools come in all shapes and sizes, and the price for each depends on many different factors. Common examples we see are at-home care, family daycare homes, center-based child care, non-profit daycare, and public preschool. Among the many different preschool styles and approaches, they fall under four common pricing categories: public preschool, private preschool, non-profit preschool, and cooperative preschools. The option that you choose for your child’s preschool education should be safe, stimulating, and supportive and leave you confident that they will be prepared to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Let’s break down the options. 

1. Public Preschool

Many school districts in the United States have public preschool programs for eligible families ages 3 through 5. Public preschools are government-funded and required to allow enrollment for any child that lives in their districts. These programs aren’t offered in every district, so make sure to check the nearest district to you!

Since most public preschools are publicly funded, parents typically don’t need to pay any tuition or fees for their children to attend. In some school districts, however, tuition can be required on a sliding scale based on your household’s size and income. Make sure to check in with your local district to learn more about the services available to you. 

2. Private Preschool

Private preschools are owned privately and commonly have a specific specialty or focus area in their curriculum. For example, about 46% of the preschools in San Diego are religiously affiliated, meaning that they offer an early childhood education program that incorporates various religious values and principles. Other preschools may be focused on language immersion. Many private preschool programs employ a specific approach, such as Montessori, Waldorf, or Reggio Emilia. Other schools, like Kids’ Care Club, employ a blended approach that incorporates appropriate activities to develop each child socially, emotionally, physically, linguistically, and cognitively through child and teacher-guided exploration.

Center-based private preschool programs will require child care licensing in order to ensure that the program meets state safety regulations, while other private preschool options such as family daycare homes may have less stringent regulations. Some private preschools will opt for further accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which provides them with additional standards to ensure a high-quality preschool. 

Private preschools typically have a lower staff-to-child ratio which results in increased one-on-one care, instruction, and support in the classroom. Furthermore, private preschools have the flexibility to customize their curriculum in accordance with different standards, as opposed to public preschools that have stricter assessment and academic regulations set by the district. 

The cost for a private preschool is determined largely by the location, program itself, and program length. While the majority of private preschools operate year-round, some are only half-day and some are full-day.  Average preschool prices cost a different amount on a county-by-county basis. 

We invite you to learn more about Kids’ Care Club and the cost of our preschool programs by scheduling a tour today at either our 4S Ranch or Rancho Peñasquitos location. 

3. Non-Profit Preschool

Non-profit preschools are run in a very similar way to private preschools. Typically, non-profit preschools are going to be churches and government-subsidized care, both of which are eligible for federal, state, and private grants and other funding.  Furthermore, with 501(c) they are exempt from various state and federal taxes that private preschools may face. Still, most non-profit preschool programs have tuition charged to families that utilize services at a reduced rate than the standard private preschool. 

Head Start and Early Head Start comprise a large sector of non-profit preschool programs and are designed to promote school readiness for children from low-income families. These programs typically serve children that are between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. Head Start programs are most commonly operated by non-profit organizations, various community action agencies, and school districts. Learn more about these programs by visiting the Head Start website, determining if you are eligible for services, and finding a program in your neighborhood!

4. Cooperative Preschools 

A cooperative preschool is a type of nonprofit organization run by parents and caregivers from the community. This increasingly common style of preschool usually requires parents to volunteer and take on duties a certain amount of days a month to assist the teachers in the daily operations of the school. Being a part of the preschool comes with responsibilities in playing a role in the hands-on learning environment of the classroom and preschool maintenance, but also in the decision making, fundraising, meeting attendance, and any other tasks that help the school run smoothly. 

Typically, the cost of a cooperative preschool is comparatively low, offering tuition that can be ½ to ⅔ less than most private preschool programs. 

Affording preschool for your child 

If you know you will want to send your child to preschool, and you have concerns regarding the cost, explore your options as early as possible! Knowing available options unique to your situation can help you make an informed decision on what type of preschool is the right fit for you. Consider the following criteria to help guide you in learning more about the options available to you. 

Types of Preschools Available: Are there private preschools, public preschools, or other forms of childcare in your neighborhood? What age do they provide care, and when do you need it? 

Workplace Benefits: Check in with your company’s benefits package. Many organizations have corporate discount programs that can go towards your child’s education or child care programs on-site to help you with child care. 

Subsidy Programs: While Head Start programs are the most common school readiness program for preschool-aged children, there are numerous subsidy programs available on a state-by-state basis. Learn more about the specific local resources in your state and district

Why Preschool is worth the investment 

The preferences that you may have for your child’s preschool can make the costs add up. Is preschool really worth it? Decades of research show that yes, it is.

The developmental benefits of preschool are abundant and we see these in the classroom every day. A high-quality early childhood education facility teaches children early on how to be effective learners, develop gross and fine motor skills, and nurture each child’s creativity and curiosity. Through a wide variety of daily engaging activities with an early childhood educator, preschoolers build pre-literacy skills and a foundation for math and literacy. Most of all, the various social interactions between educators and peers help children understand the world around them to better take care of themselves and each other, as well as know how to navigate conflicts. We truly believe that early years are learning years, and early education builds a strong foundation to help your child become a learner for life.  

Do you live in San Diego and are in search of care for your child aged 6 weeks to 6 years old? We’re glad you’re here. We invite you to learn more about how Kids’ Care Club is providing nurturing learning opportunities that support the development of each child. Contact us to schedule a tour today. 

Additional Resources

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