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<p>How did you decide what schools to apply to?</p>
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<p>Our little one just turned one. We hadn't even begun to think about anything school-related. But it turns out that our area has really long waitlists for the "good" - and even "okay" - preschools.</p>
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<p>We're overwhelmed! We don't even know if we'll want to send him to school, let alone what type of school we're interested in. But if we'd like him to be able to start a preschool at 2 1/2+, we need to get it in gear and start visiting and applying now.</p>
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<p>Any advice? Is there some kind of "primer on different school philosophies"? Did you just visit all of the preschools in your area and go from there?</p>
 

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<p>I guess I'd start by talking to other parents, see which schools they liked, visit some. Most parents I know that do the long wait list thing put their children on multiple lists and then go with the school that fits their child best when it finally comes time to it, the one that comes up soonest or even later if their children turns out not to be ready when the name starts coming up. </p>
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<p>Personally I am not a fan of early preschool at 2.5, think there are many more years ahead for school and it is a time to have fun at home but everyone has a different life. <img alt="shrug.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/shrug.gif"> I happen to work minimal hours and when I do work, the younger ones not in school stay with a sitter. My 4 year still wasn't ready for preschool this year, we tried and pulled her out, I'll try again next year (she just misses the school cut off) when she is more mature. I do recognize that not everyone has the ability to do that. </p>
 

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<p>I think I must have been really unclear! Sorry about that.</p>
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<p>I meant that the waitlists are so long that we may already be too late to consider early preschools at all - something we have no idea if we'd even be interested in. It feels impossible to know, at 13 months, if we'd be interested in sending our boy to preschool at 2 1/2 years or not, but in case that turns out to be something we're interested in, we have to make decisions now. (Phew! Convoluted...)</p>
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<p>Other parents is a good idea. The one school I called on the recommendation of other parents has a three-year waitlist, so I got totally freaked out. :p</p>
 

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<p>We dont have years long waitlists in our area.</p>
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<p>BUT- if you think you may be interested, visit a few. Get on a few lists and then reevaluate in a year or two.</p>
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<p>If in a year or two you decide *not* to do preschool, just take him off the list. It is much easier than trying to get on a list!!</p>
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<p>The lists may seem long, but many kids will be on 'lists' for multiple schools and once the year starts- some will chose other programs or move or not be ready....etc.</p>
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<p>Our area starts the year with a list, but it always settles down in the first few weeks. We only had a handful of kids that did not get a slot and the list was long ( they do not 'start' it until registration in Jan before that school year starts).</p>
 

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<p>My kids did start at 2-1/2 (two days a week, three hours) in an area with long waitlists. Definitely visit a few. My kids' school is so warm, friendly, and full of play and life that I loved it immediately. I think you'll get a good or bad gut feeling really quickly and start to know what kind of school resonates with you. And definitely also work your network to find out what the schools in your area are like.</p>
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<p>I also agree with a PP. Don't be too freaked out by long waitlists. People move, lose jobs, change their minds.</p>
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<p>Best of luck!<br>
-e</p>
 

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<p>I agree that you should visit a few now and, if the fee is not too high, get on the waitlist for one of two you like.  I started at the state's education web site which a list of all licensed preschools.  I also asked friends for references, grabbed those free "parenting" newsletters you find in doctor's offices for the ads, looked at some of the places we're considering for elementary school to see if they had pre-k programs and checked local review sites and the BBB site.  Depending on your beliefs, you could also check out local churches, temples, etc.   It seemed overwhelming at first, but it wasn't so bad. </p>
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<p>Our case is a bit skewed since we're in an area with very long waitlists (I signed up for my company's onsite preschools (there are 4 of them)  as soon as I found out I was pregnant, but was still on the waiting list until I withdrew when DD  this past September!) and  high costs (if I sent her 5 days a week 830a-230p, our final 3 choices would be just $200- $400 less than my monthly mortgage).  Plus  I had a couple of non-neg. requirements  - the preschool needed to be in one of two  neighborhoods (so that I could pick her up, take her to my parents and get back to work all within an hour) and preferably near public transportation.   To make sure I had time to explore different programs and find a good one I could afford, I started looking just before DD was born.   I narrowed down my list and started visiting programs when she was about 1.5 and then registered her for a program about 4 months after that. </p>
 
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