Author Topic: Freaking out about cheap preschool  (Read 1298 times)


  • Stubble
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Freaking out about cheap preschool
« on: June 04, 2018, 08:22:47 AM »
In trying to avoid the ivy league preschool syndrome, I enrolled my 3 year old in a non-profit preschool located in the basement of a church rather than the beautiful shiny Montessori school down the street.

The church basement preschool has a small class size, good teacher ratios, an experienced head teacher/director who I watched in action and like, and a philosophy that is consistent with my personal parenting philosophy. The monthly cost is $350 a month for 3 days a week 8:15-12.

The shiny Montessori school has all wood toys, little wooden tables, an attached outdoor playspace, a naeyc accreditation and requires parenting to buy little polo shirt uniforms with the school logo on it for preschool. Monthly cost $1025 for a similar 1/2 day slot.

I was confident in choosing the church basement preschool for my son because he's a little shy and I thought the small class size would be a better fit, plus they have a large playroom upstairs with lots of toys, a city playground 2 blocks away, and kid's artwork on the walls that reflects individuality and creativity. ( the art does not all look the same)
Plus the cost difference is significant.

I dropped him off for his first day today and I saw a cockroach! I'm freaking out that I cheated out on my kid's schooling and have compromised his safety and health. I'm ashamed to talk to people IRL out of fear that I'll be judged for not choosing the shiny clean naeyc accredited Montessori option just to save money.

Please help talk me down from the instinct to just throw money at this issue.


  • Stubble
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2018, 08:49:22 AM »
The preschool in the church basement is likely cheaper because they are getting either free or heavily subsidized use of the space. Rent is a killer for day care economics.

As for the Montessori- NAEYC accreditation is the gold standard and you can be sure you are getting extremely qualified teachers (and Montessori requires a college degree I think) and a day care that is well run (otherwise they never would have been able to get through the NAEYC accreditation process.)  But not having NAEYC accreditation doesn't mean the preschool is no good- it's an intense process that requires $, plus staff with educational credentials who the school has to pay more.

My kids' day care was NAEYC accredited and we saw the occasional cockroach- it was in an old building. What can ya do.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2018, 08:54:50 AM »
Can you ask the person who runs the church preschool what their pest control policies look like? 

I wouldn't really freak out over a single roach - where I live, it's starting to get hot, and the roaches and other bugs are starting to head indoors.  (It's so gross.)  If you see more over the next week or so, then maybe freak out a little.

Choosing the right preschool is much more than just picking the shiny new expensive or cozy cheap option.  It's about finding the right environment to suit your child's personality and needs.  If people judge you for not choosing the popular option...then you don't want to spend a lot of time with those people.  They aren't your tribe and they don't necessarily have your child's best interests at heart.

My daughter was fine and eager to learn in any environment that I put her in.  My son, bless his little heart, needed a lot more work on my part to find the right care programs for him.  He struggled at the medium-expensive-level preschool that a lot of my neighbors raved about.  In kinder, I moved him to the uber-expensive afterschool program with the very very very small class sizes, and he thrived.  He's 8 now, and currently thriving at the ultra-cheap afterschool program at the karate studio where all the teachers are men with big gruff voices.  His needs changed, so  I found him the programs to fit that.

You know your kid and what (s)he needs.  Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions of the church provider - anyone who works with small children should be used to parents with a laundry list of questions.  If the answers don't suit you, then you can look around for another option for your little one - and that option still doesn't have to be the shiny Montessori school if that's not what you want.


  • Bristles
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2018, 08:58:21 AM »
Did you mention the roach to the staff? If so, how did the react?

We sent my daughter to a moderately priced preschool and we were quite happy with it. The key was, anytime we had an issue with a teacher/kids/whatever, the director/owner addressed it immediately and professionally.

Try to feel that out. If you are satisfied with the response and you notice change, then keep your child there. If not, look for other options.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2018, 08:58:37 AM »
Let's get back to what has happened: you've seen a cockroach. Now cockroaches aren't the nicest things in the world, but I think you shouldn't consider it as an immediate massive hazard to your son's safety.

I don't know in what kind of climate you live, but especially in warm/tropical climates it can be pretty challenging to get rid of cockroaches and/or to prevent getting them. Who says the fancy Montessori places doesn't have cockroaches too? The cockroach might've just come from some other parent's clothing/car/bag and that could happen just about anywhere.

Now sure it's important that the school doesn't have cockroach infestations continuously. It's important to get rid of the current cockroach that you've seen. So instead of freaking out and moving your kid to fancy Montessori school that isn't even guaranteed cockroach-free I'd suggest the following:
- Inform the school about the cockroach. Maybe they're aware of the problem and have taken measures already, maybe they just hadn't seen any cockroaches yet before and don't know about it.
- See what the school's doing against it.
- If they aren't taking any measures, ask again and insist that something gets done. Maybe group up with some other parents and/or teachers - no one likes cockroaches.

Even paying for someone to clean the place to get rid of the cockroaches is probably cheaper than the $675/month you'd be paying extra for a school that aligns with your values less. Don't panic. It's just a cockroach and that doesn't need to have anything to do with the safety/health/quality of education.


  • Stubble
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2018, 06:15:34 PM »
Thank you everybody for your responses. In hindsight it's obvious that I was primed to be anxious about anything and everything on this first day of school.

Your responses and the values of this community in general have helped me stay centered and strong in my conviction that choosing the most expensive option for things can alleviate anxiety but does not necessarily equal better quality.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2018, 06:24:43 PM »
Meh, clearly you've never spent any time in the Big Apple. It'll be fine. Cockroaches are far more adaptable than we humans, and um, at least they're not pumping the place full of insecticides, so there's that.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2018, 06:27:22 AM »
I saw a giant cockroach in my house once, as well as spiders on occasion. Does that mean Im a terrible parent? Cockroaches happen. Now if there were several cockroaches every time you dropped off your kid, that would be a problem. We have DD in a private preschool, and shes thriving. I would say the kindness and care of the teachers is much more important in preschool.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2018, 06:57:55 AM »
Our kids went to a free pre-K and we've absolutely loved it.  No cockroaches though ;)  Just kidding, most old city buildings have them occasionally.  It doesn't mean anything about the quality of the school.


  • Stubble
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2018, 10:44:50 AM »
Use some of the $600 you have saved and go buy the book, "The Importance of Being Little." It is a fascinating exposition about development in preschool age children and the role of formal school programs.  It strikes the right balance between being accessible to the lay person, but well-researched and annotated. There are no pages of "6 easy step to reading success" or crap like that.

What it does say is that there is a threshold effect for preschool - if it meets a certain level of quality, it will be just fine and going above that threshold has very little return.  This has been my philosophy and I have been very happy with the low-cost city-run preschool that my children have attended.  It has probably saved us a five figure sum over the course of educating 3 kids.

TL; DR. Good preschool is good for kids. Great preschool is good for kids (but not any better). A few hours a day is good for kids.  A full day is fine, too, but not any better (unless kid is in a dangerous, unsafe situation at home).


  • Bristles
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2018, 02:16:34 PM »
Your kid will be fine. Tell them about the roach and any other problems that occur and relax. My approach to preschool is to assume the best until I have reason to assume something worse. They generally know what they are doing and while they might not do things exactly as you do the kids will be fine. It is hard to leave them there at first regardless how great the preschool is but it will get easier. You will find your thing and they will get used to preschool. My son cried a lot when I left him at preschool at first but after a while he stopped and walked in without crying. After a while more he walked in with a smile on his face. Now he runs in smiling and sometimes even laughing. He hugs his little friends and the teachers and happily joins in the activities. When I or my husband comes to pick him up he is just as happy to see us. 

This is is how happy and muddy he was one day when I picked him and his sister up.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Freaking out about cheap preschool
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2018, 07:42:18 PM »
A cockroach? Really? Here in Florida we call them palmetto bugs. Rarely a day goes by where we don't see them. No big deal.

But if that's enough to send you, ahem, scurrying for Montessori at $1K a month, go for it.