For starters, DD is 3 yrs 9 mo and has not been in any preschool setting. She participates in music, gymnastics, storytime and our local playgroup, so she has some activity nearly every day of the week. She is bright, active and energetic. She is outgoing and social.
We live in a very rural area. Our closest chain retailer is an hour away. We have a few preschool options where we live, though there is only one that I would consider, and that is a long shot. The majority of the programs locally are run by older women in the community as serve primarily as cheap daycare, IMO. The only one that I would possibly consider is religious affiliated and I am not interested for that reason and b/c the teachers are just moms that basically volunteer that do what they want with the kids, ie no training whatsoever. It is EXTREMELY important to me that she is in a respectful environment. I don't want her to be put into time out or have to wait use the bathroom until they offer the group bathroom time.
So we have begun researching other possibilities that are in the closest city, an hour away. In it are numerous preschools, but mainly daycare facilities, which I am not interested in. We toured the montessori school there, which has a 1/2 day preschool. The director was super nice, helpful and interesting. The campus was a bit lacking. The building is kindof old, the materials are similar to other preschools. The M is accredited, so it has all of the basic things, it is just a bit cramped and not particularly a beautiful classroom. The teachers were pretty friendly, but not super warm to us, though the teacher did invite my DD to join them during circle time (she happily did). The lead teacher is pretty old. Definitely 60. The interactions with the children and teachers seemed positive, but not super awesome.
So here is my conundrum: If I were to enroll DD in the preschool, there are some great things she would experience: new friends, Music Together (part of their program, included in tuition), more variety in her week. However, the school is an hour away. They are flexible with drop off time and attendance in our case.
We really have very few other options. I could keep her at home and continue our weekly activities, which we both enjoy... for another year... after that, the young children activities in the community drop off b/c everyone puts their 5 year olds into K. I do NOT plan to put her into public K here. I could explore some in-home preschools (also an hour away). I could look into the homeschool group (also an hour away).
So would you do the M that is good but not fantastic (as I'd hoped). ? Should I just sit tight for another semester? Year? Try to start my own preschool group? (an option but a difficult one!)