Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

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Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby OnFire » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:47 pm

My son will be three in March. My wife has started him in preschool at a private facility. He goes Mondays and Fridays from 8:45 to 11:45. So far he likes school. He came into my bed this morning and asked "Can I go to school today?" He is VERY outgoing, social, and smart. He knows all of the letters of the alphabet, their sounds, and can easily count to thirty. He is probably at the level of most of the children a year older than him intellectually. (My wife skipped three grades as a child, and they recommended five, her parents refused.) The tuition is $212 a month, and he would go at least another 18 months, probably 23 more months. One of my close friends has his daughter there, and one of my wife's best friends also has her daughter there.

We have another son who is 16 months old. We are tenatively planning one more about two years from now.

Kindergarden is not guaranteed in my school district. I live in Chicago and at my school, kindergarden is a lottery, but offered if your child is behind. I am required to live in Chicago for my job at the fire department. My son will not be behind when kindergarden is offered. I don't know what the odds of him "winning" the lottery are yet.

We have about $2,500 saved up so far in a 529. Would be better off saving the $212 a month for him for college. I figure it will be close to $5K for preschool. That's about half a semester of college right now. My wife is a dentist, paid most of her own way through school, and owes about $130K in student loans. I'd like to saw we will have enough for undergraduate for him at the state flagship school, but U of I is running $25K a year.

So, two boys. High school would be $10K a year. That's $80k in high school tuition. $25k x 2 boys x 4 years is $200K. SO, $280k in future education + $130k in past education is $400 k in the next 20 years. To pay off both under grads and my wife's loans by the time they graduate, or about $20K a year. I'm hesitant to drop $10k on preschool for my two boys when it's basically socialization. I DO want him to get the best education possible.

Most of my other bills and savings are fine. We just seem to be treading water financially right now, but I suspect that we will pick back up savings wise soon. We wiped out our savings buying a house last year.

Pros are socialization and routine, plus, hopefully, some knowledge. Negatives are mostly cost. What have you done? Why?
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby livesoft » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:55 pm

Daycare is well worth it if your spouse has a good job. Call it preschool if you want. Even if lower earning spouse earns only enough to pay for daycare and $17,500 for his 401(k) and his Roth IRA and his spouse's Roth IRA, so that take-home is no different than before it is worth it.

Both our kids went to daycare, then to public schools. In our area, the free public schools rival the expensive private schools in outcomes, so no reason to pay for private school.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby German Expat » Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:13 pm

Different issue for us because my wife has a full time job. We sent our son to Montessori right after he turned 2 1/2 years old. He liked it a lot, not sure how much ahead he really was but it was much easier for him to transition to Kindergarten.
We also sent him to a public charter school afterwards (he is now 7 in 1st grade) because our public schools are as good as the private ones.
I think what he learned was how to socialize with other kids. He is also in AP classes (reading and math) , not sure if he would be in there without pre school.

For us it was not a financial decision though because my wife does work full time.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:21 pm

Haven't done it yet - but $212 a month is cheap. Here it's $1,000 a month, easy.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby mlewis » Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:34 pm

I'm no expert in the topic, nor do i have kids, but I've heard about various studies showing how much early schooling can help children. I would think it would be well worth it.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby camper » Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:35 pm

We were given some advice from a family friend who was a retired teacher some time ago. She told us to spend as much time as possible with our children before kindergarten. Reason being is you will never get that time back. Nobody will ever teach your children as well as you will. We followed her advice and so far so good. Our son is 8 years old.

Glad to see our grammar nit-pickers are reading this thread. We are speaking of preschoolers here people.
Last edited by camper on Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby reggiesimpson » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:13 pm

camper wrote:We were given some advice from a family friend who was a retired teacher some time ago. She told us to spend as much time as possible with our children before kindergarten. Reason being is you will never get that time back. Nobody will ever teach your children as good as you will. We followed her advice and so far so good. Our son is 8 years old.

+1
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby livesoft » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:18 pm

camper wrote:Nobody will ever teach your children as good as you will.
I visited Lake Wobegon once.

It is simply impossible for you to teach your children all the good things they should know. Others will be better at teaching some things than you ever will. And that includes things that one learns before age 5.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby camper » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:27 pm

livesoft wrote:
camper wrote:Nobody will ever teach your children as good as you will.
I visited Lake Wobegon once.

It is simply impossible for you to teach your children all the good things they should know. Others will be better at teaching some things than you ever will. And that includes things that one learns before age 5.


This is not Wobegon. Sorry I have to disagree with you on this one. My wife and I taught my little one before kinder age all he needed to know and then some. I believe we did a better job than a preschool teacher with a room full of small children would do.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby sscritic » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:31 pm

camper wrote:Nobody will ever teach your children as good as you will.

But will you be able to teach them the difference between well and good? Between an adverb and an adjective? Your child might need school for that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkaKwXddT_I
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby texasdiver » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:36 pm

That is ridiculously cheap for a good preschool. Is that just the price for 2x per week? Here in suburban Central Texas we were paying in the neighborhood of $500/month about 4 years ago when my youngest was still in preschool. Ten years ago in Juneau Alaska preschool was over $800 for our oldest daughter.

Regardless......

1. Look into whether your wife's employer has a cafeteria plan for dependent care. You can pay for preschool and things like summer camps out of pre-tax dollars and save quite a bit that way.
2. For us yes, it was worth it. I'm not exactly certain of your situation. Your wife is a dentist and you stay home or work at home? Who cares for the child now? My wife and I both worked so we needed the preschool. If you have the opportunity to stay home then you can just do mornings and have the kids all afternoon. That might be a good compromise. No need to do the 7 am to 5 pm routine that a lot of working parents do. If you do go half day I'd recommend the mornings as it is easier to get them settled in in the morning when all the other kids are arriving than try to drop them at lunch time.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby letsgobobby » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:48 pm

our kids have both loved preschool and we've had a mix of experiences.

The first was a religious preschool for the steal price of $250 per month per child for 3 days per week, full day (10 hr) care. That left us 4 full days plus holidays and vacations to be with our kids. It was a great balance. They loved the school. they sang, played, read books, took naps, learned to eat with other kids, learned about sharing, etc.

The second school was a for profit, privately run daycare for about the same price. It was really bad. They didn't teach them anything; threw them in a dirty old room for the day and checked their cell phones. When we realized what was going on we took our kids out but it took a few months. They charged the same: about $250 per month per child for 3 days per week.

Our current preschool is a private chain (Goddard). I think it's really good. the teachers are all BS or MS educated. They are great with kids. There is structure, order, reading, songs, playtime, free time, nap time. the school is very clean. it is very secure. It is very organized. And it is expensive: $750 per month per child (we only send 1 now) for 3 days per week. Still, it is totally worth it to us.

Again, our kids love school. They love to read and play with friends and they love adults (teachers) and it is good for them and us to get out of the house.

I think you usually get what you pay for, but not always. You need to be vigilant and ask a lot of questions. If you don't think you're getting your money's worth, look around for something better.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby Rodc » Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:38 pm

Very personal issue.

Preschool is not needed for most kids.

Most kids love preschool and get good things from it.

Having a good variety of quality adults in your child's life is a good thing, why not parents and preschool? It is not one or the other. At two 3 hour periods twice a week it is hardly like the OP is turning his kids over to someone else to raise them. Heck, might do the stay at home parent as much good as the child to get a break for a few hours twice a week. Surely there are 6 hours in a week of down time from being super-parent where you need to run errands, do laundry, cook, clean where you are not focused on quality time anyway. While you are doing those things where you are not focused on the child, why not have him in a quality preschool?

Something to consider too: a good preschool looks like play, but they do many activities with a purpose: that art project where they are dripping colored water from an eye dropper? Not so much as an art project as practice of fine motor control in the hands to help with writing when they get to school. Many other examples. Lots of things even a caring well meaning parent might not think of.

But again, not required.

Personally if I had the money and my kid loved preschool (mine did) I'd send him. That said, I stayed home with mom and turned out just fine.

Hard to go wrong here for most kids.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby DTSC » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:35 pm

IMHO, well worth it if you can afford it. One thing that is hard to teach at home is how to play well with one's peers.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby dbltrbl » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:44 pm

We were given some advice from a family friend who was a retired teacher some time ago. She told us to spend as much time as possible with our children before kindergarten. Reason being is you will never get that time back. Nobody will ever teach your children as well as you will. We followed her advice and so far so good. Our son is 8 years old.

+1

Our son is now 30. All public school. Only you can show importance and joy of learning to your kids not a teacher. Institutions give you facts and knowledge but not love of learning. If kids learn that from you rest is a cakewalk.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby mmaguy » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:46 pm

If your asking, I get the feeling you already know the answer
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby surfer1 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:02 pm

I think it's worth it for the socialization. I have a kid in pre-school part-time for around $250/mo with a stay-at-home mom. Next year, the price doubles along with the days. I'm not sure about that one though.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby sscritic » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:11 pm

The problem I see is that most people don't know what they don't know, and if they don't know that they don't know what they don't know, that makes two (or is it three? I don't know) levels of not knowing. In short, how can they teach their children what they don't know if they don't know they don't know it? For proof, just look at the number of wrong answers posted on bogleheads. It's not that people are maliciously posting wrong answers; they post answers they believe to be correct, even if wrong. The problem is that they don't know that the answers are wrong because they don't know what they don't know. You need an outsider to fill in the gaps that you don't realize you have.

Last Thursday, I babysat the two month old so the two year old could go with mommy to a mommy and me class. Every class has science; last Thursday they filled a plastic bottle with water and punched a hole in it, but the water wouldn't drain out as long as the cap was on tight. I don't remember teaching vacuums and air pressure to my children when they were two. I don't know if the two year old would have learned this at two if not for the outsider.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby mikep » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:50 pm

If both parents work, or even if one is a business owner, look into the dependent care credit or even better a dependent care FSA at work.. you may be able to take a tax credit or pay for preschool with pretax dollars lowering the overall cost quite a bit.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby porcupine » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:36 am

sscritic wrote:The problem I see is that most people don't know what they don't know, and if they don't know that they don't know what they don't know, that makes two (or is it three? I don't know) levels of not knowing. In short, how can they teach their children what they don't know if they don't know they don't know it? For proof, just look at the number of wrong answers posted on bogleheads. It's not that people are maliciously posting wrong answers; they post answers they believe to be correct, even if wrong. The problem is that they don't know that the answers are wrong because they don't know what they don't know. You need an outsider to fill in the gaps that you don't realize you have.[...]
Don't know if this is orthogonal to this discussion, but one thing I have learned is that you go farther at work (or at least your opinions do) if you are vehement that you are right even if you are 95% wrong, rather than if you are 95% right but are hesitant to say you are right (because you know there is a 5% chance that you are wrong).

- Porcupine

PS: BTW, two decades ago, the odds are that everyone in the scientific community would've told you that you are wrong if you had postulated that there are only eight planets in the solar system :oops:
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby Keep It Simple » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:59 am

I believe it is worth it, provided you have the means to pay for it without sacrificing other more important responsibilities. Prioritize!

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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:23 am

My wife, who got her undergraduate degree at Vassar and an MBA at Fordham, says that the most influential education for her considerable career success was Montessori. She says that it taught her to "finish." So many of her colleagues are great for 80% of a task, some can get 95% of the task done, but people who can actually finish are rare and, based on our experience, well compensated.

I guess it goes without saying that we sent our kids to Montessori. Would have loved to pay your price :D
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby johnep » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:41 am

livesoft wrote:
camper wrote:Nobody will ever teach your children as good as you will.
I visited Lake Wobegon once.

It is simply impossible for you to teach your children all the good things they should know. Others will be better at teaching some things than you ever will. And that includes things that one learns before age 5.


I do agree that children will and should learn a lot of things through school. However, it is the parents responsibility to teach their children their philosophies of life, values, and faith. Teaching children the difference between right and wrong, honesty, accepting responsibility and discipline are just a few. Parenting is a time consuming and tough job but it comes with the territory. It is important that the parents build a strong foundation in these things. Otherwise, school and society may well teach them, but not necessarily the way you would want them to.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby ProfessorX » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:50 am

I wish my kids pre-school cost $5,000. We live in a big city. $5,000 for a good pre-school sounds dirt cheap.
We will soon be paying $1.7K a month for a top rated infant pre-school.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:55 am

johnep wrote:
livesoft wrote:
camper wrote:Nobody will ever teach your children as good as you will.
I visited Lake Wobegon once.

It is simply impossible for you to teach your children all the good things they should know. Others will be better at teaching some things than you ever will. And that includes things that one learns before age 5.


I do agree that children will and should learn a lot of things through school. However, it is the parents responsibility to teach their children their philosophies of life, values, and faith. Teaching children the difference between right and wrong, honesty, accepting responsibility and discipline are just a few. Parenting is a time consuming and tough job but it comes with the territory. It is important that the parents build a strong foundation in these things. Otherwise, school and society may well teach them, but not necessarily the way you would want them to.

My oldest, 30 years old, visited during the holidays, and I was pleasantly surprised by how many of my core values had been given expression in her life also. I honestly think, however, that it turned out that way only in part because of what I told her, but mostly because of what she saw of how I live. Words are fine if they are consistent with your behavior but children's observations of how you behave matter the most. To paraphrase, "much begins at the dinner table."
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby sscritic » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:15 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:My oldest, 30 years old, visited during the holidays, and I was pleasantly surprised by how many of my core values had been given expression in her life also. I honestly think, however, that it turned out that way only in part because of what I told her, but mostly because of what she saw of how I live. Words are fine if they are consistent with your behavior but children's observations of how you behave matter the most. To paraphrase, "much begins at the dinner table."

I agree completely. What you do is more important than what you say. It goes from the simplest things (if you ask your children with a please, your children will use please their whole lives*) to how you treat others (honesty and fairness fit in there).

* I don't know where it comes from, but my grandchildren know the difference between may and can ("may I please" vs "can I"). My daughter says I taught her, but I have slipped into bad habits and often use can when I should use may. Either I had better habits when she was young or my wife had better habits than I. It must be the latter.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby thinkingmama » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:37 am

It sounds like your child is already getting a lot at home in terms of intellectual development, so I doubt that preschool will be value added in that area. If he has play dates from time to time, visits with relatives or neighbors or friends who have children close in age (within a few years), or participates in any group activities (e.g. art classes, soccer, gymnastics), then the socialization needs are likely also being met without preschool. My take as a psychologist who works with families is that preschool most benefits kids who do not have siblings, are not getting socialization from other contexts, and are not getting much intellectual stimulation at home. Really, the benefit is in learning to share, and in learning to sit and listen even when you may want to play or explore in a different way. If your child is already getting those things, then preschool may be fine for him, but it probably isn't necessary for his growth and development.

That said, I have used childcare for all 3 of my sons. This has allowed me to work, which I enjoy both intellectually and socially, and to save money for retirement and for our children's college education. We used 45 hours/week of childcare. It was good quality, but nothing like what our children would have gotten at home with us. I don't think they were hurt by it, but I'm not at all convinced it was really value added for them. For us, working full time allows us to support ourselves, save money, and maintain a set of professional skills that matter to each of us. The downside is that work unquestionably detracts from our ability to enjoy our children. We are often chasing the clock, trying to get to work on time, rushignt o get from work to childcare or school, and then rushign to get dinner on at a reasonable time.

With preschool only 5 hours a week in your case, and with your son enjoying it, it could free up a little time for your wife in a way that is enjoyable for your child. It may be worth it from that perspective, but if money is tight or if it just makes sense to chanel the preschool money into college education savings, I have no doubt that being home will offer plenty of enrichment.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby davebo » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:41 am

livesoft wrote:
camper wrote:Nobody will ever teach your children as good as you will.
I visited Lake Wobegon once.

It is simply impossible for you to teach your children all the good things they should know. Others will be better at teaching some things than you ever will. And that includes things that one learns before age 5.


Ha. Yeah, I agree with livesoft. We spend a lot of time with our 4-year old exploring his different interests, but preschool goes through an entire curriculum...music, art, teamwork with other kids, science, etc. You could do that stuff at home, but most people (Like the OP) have another child at home which makes it challenging.

So yeah, I would definitely spend the money now and do the preschool. My son is 4.5 and loves going to school, I wouldn't want to lose momentum.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby Keep It Simple » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:44 am

johnep wrote:
livesoft wrote:
camper wrote:Nobody will ever teach your children as good as you will.
I visited Lake Wobegon once.

It is simply impossible for you to teach your children all the good things they should know. Others will be better at teaching some things than you ever will. And that includes things that one learns before age 5.


I do agree that children will and should learn a lot of things through school. However, it is the parents responsibility to teach their children their philosophies of life, values, and faith. Teaching children the difference between right and wrong, honesty, accepting responsibility and discipline are just a few. Parenting is a time consuming and tough job but it comes with the territory. It is important that the parents build a strong foundation in these things. Otherwise, school and society may well teach them, but not necessarily the way you would want them to.


This is spot on! Without parents teaching(through words and actions) their kids the basics, your child will be ill prepared to succeed in any school. No teacher is going to replace what can be taught at home. Teachers can only work with what they are given.

P. S. I have the utmost respect for teachers!

K. I. S.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby sscritic » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:51 am

One way a parent prepares a child for later success and simultaneously supports the teacher is by being enthusiastic about school.
What did you do at school? Really, that sounds very interesting. Did you get to do it yourself?

You can help your child learn to love learning no matter where it occurs. School is Cool!

I don't know how to do this if your child isn't in a school.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby Rodc » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:03 pm

I do agree that children will and should learn a lot of things through school. However, it is the parents responsibility to teach their children their philosophies of life, values, and faith. Teaching children the difference between right and wrong, honesty, accepting responsibility and discipline are just a few. Parenting is a time consuming and tough job but it comes with the territory. It is important that the parents build a strong foundation in these things. Otherwise, school and society may well teach them, but not necessarily the way you would want them to.


All true especially in an ideal world, and I suspect true for the vast majority of people here.

But the OP is talking about 6 hours a week. Will six hours away damage your ability to teach these things to your child?

Indeed, would 6 hours a day damage your ability to teach these things to your child?

I don't think so.

In some cases where parent are ignorant (not us of course), have biases against certain groups (perhaps subconsciously), or say who have poor dietary habits, whatever short coming they have as humans (and frankly none of us is perfect), having some of this come through interactions with others can be a life saver.

But we are formed by a life time of experience. Rarely is one experience, or one parental decision hugely important. We are informed by thousands of experience and parental decisions. That is not to say how we raise our children is not very important. But I think parents often get too focused and overwhelmed by choices that 30 year later they will hardly remember and neither will the kid. Give them love, attention and freedom, give them a nice wide variety of experiences and opportunities and they will be fine. We worry too much.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby jtundra » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:07 pm

My 3 year old just started her preschool at a Montessori school. She was at a daycare before that. We are paying $1,015 a month for her which includes pre and after school programs. My husband is in pharmacy school right now. We borrow $23,000 a year student loan for his tuition. Does it make sense to pay daugter's preschool but borrow for husband's pharmacy school? I have asked myself this question a few times. And the answer has always been yes.

There are things/skills/knowledge we can't teach her at home. I firmly believe knowledge (ABC, numbers, colors etc) isn't as important as skills of navigating among peers. All preschools help build social skills. For my daugter, the Montessori school is doing a very good job for that part, or better than the two dayscares she attended previously.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:13 pm

jtundra wrote:My 3 year old just started her preschool at a Montessori school. She was at a daycare before that. We are paying $1,015 a month for her which includes pre and after school programs. My husband is in pharmacy school right now. We borrow $23,000 a year student loan for his tuition. Does it make sense to pay daugter's preschool but borrow for husband's pharmacy school? I have asked myself this question a few times. And the answer has always been yes.

There are things/skills/knowledge we can't teach her at home. I firmly believe knowledge (ABC, numbers, colors etc) isn't as important as skills of navigating among peers. All preschools help build social skills. For my daugter, the Montessori school is doing a very good job for that part, or better than the two dayscares she attended previously.

Pardon the indelicate way I'm putting this, but having parents who "put their money where their mouths are" will pay dividends also. Your daughter is 3 years old only once in her life, and there are some lessons best learned young. The timing of your husband's schooling wasn't chosen by your daughter, and I have only admiration for the decision you made. My prediction is that you will look back on this with a smile later, when all the loans are paid off and your daughter is thriving.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby kitkat » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:08 pm

I had to re-read your post twice. My first thought was "move out of Chicago", then I re-read and saw you couldn't due to your job. If it were me, I would continue to pay for pre-school and private schools ESPECIALLY since you live in Chicago. Have three of my own, two now are in college. Had it not have been for their good education, they would not have received academic scholarships. I do not live in Chicago, and do not send my kids to private schools. We live in an area of the country whose public schools are better than private schools academically speaking.

In addition , some schools EXPECT all children to do well and offer Advanced classes for those who are a bit brighter than the others. This is important to keep in mind also. Alot of schools--including private--keep teaching levels the same.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby spotty_dog » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:40 pm

This is obviously very personal. For my family, I believe pretty strongly in two years of preschool. However, I do not believe in sending a 3 year old for more than a few hours per week (assuming this is purely a question of educational choices and not of childcare needs), and I do not believe academic curriculum has any part in a 3-year-old program. Kids have SO much to learn other than academics, and they have their whole school career to become "advanced" in their knowledge of ABCs and 123s. IMO, preschool is for the friendships, the opportunity for varied stimuli that they don't get at home (let's just say I do NOT have glitter and tempera paint in my home), and for the indoctrination to school expectations (lining up, raising hands, sitting still). And most importantly, as others have pointed out, preschool as a first school experience creates the belief that school is SUPER FUN.

However, though I believe in the value of preschool, I am way too frugal to pay hundreds of dollars per month for this. Fortunately, a parent-child cooperative preschool is available in my area. The tuition is way WAY lower, I get to work in the classroom occasionally and take part in my kid's experience and get to know her little friends, and I get to attend monthly parenting education that is usually really interesting and helps me grow as a parent. Plus I get to know other area mommies. It's a win-win-win for me. Can you shop around for a different program that might meet your family's needs (and budget) better?
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby Rodc » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:02 pm

One thing I did not see mentioned that may help someone is the following.

We had a son with a modest neurological delay. Not terrible and not so noticeable to my wife and I who were likely somewhat biased to not see it, and without vast experience with small children. However it was picked up by the day care staff who did have a vast amount of experience and were less biased. We asked the local school system for an evaluation, they agreed and at age 3 he started free occupational therapy provided by the school system, one day a week in their OT facilities and some visits (don’t remember the details) by a specialist to the daycare to get real world observations and to help the teachers design complimentary activates to his OT.

It seemed to be very helpful, though with no control subjects hard to know for sure. :)
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby steve r » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:23 pm

DTSC wrote:IMHO, well worth it if you can afford it. One thing that is hard to teach at home is how to play well with one's peers.

+1

Worth it in terms of social skills. I am skeptical about the quality of education being worth 5k as opposed to 2 or 3k.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby jon-nyc » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:38 pm

What is your other option? Sounds like you and your wife both work, so it not preschool than what? And how much would that cost?

I think 5k for preschool is a good deal. We pay a lot more than that here in nyc.

As another poster pointed out, see if you can do a dependent care FSA. We have one for 5k which defrays costs of our nanny and preschool.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby Ducks » Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:21 pm

As the mom of a kindergartener, I can wholeheartedly tell you that it is obvious and apparent what she learned in two years of preschool. I can't imagine her starting K without the foundation of the wonderful preschool we attended for 2 years.

Private school is a separate matter, and one you will have to make based on the actual school your child will be attending, which it sounds like you may not know which one that is. We live in one of the best public school districts in the nation and still considered private school. I looked at one that was 20-25k/year, depending on the grade. It was an absolutely incredible school. INcredible. However, the question I asked myself was: Is it better to spend ~250,000 on a primary education, or would she be better served having that money go into some sort of account, that would be waiting for her after college? What else could she do with that $? A down payment for a condo, maybe travel abroad for a year after school was over. I don't know. But in the end, we decided to go with public school, and if at any point we felt that her needs were not being met we would reassess.

Interesting story about preschool in Oklahoma (scroll down to act 4):
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-a ... ay-with-it
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby janelane » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:34 pm

Hm, just to give a (former) latchkey/daycare kid perspective:

Both of my parents worked; my siblings and I were placed in daycare at very early ages. I earned a full academic scholarship to a school consistently ranked in the top 15 of best colleges in America. I missed the honor roll only once in my entire pre-college education career. My oldest brother is an anesthesiologist, my second brother is a lawyer, and my sister is preparing to enter law school in the fall. My point? You can raise successful children who love learning without having to stay home with them. Also, I've never felt cheated out of a fulfilling relationship with my parents; we're very close and I speak with them several times a week.

I don't have kids yet, and my evidence is just anecdotal, but I believe if you teach your kids to love learning, encourage them to read, give them unstructured play time, they'll be fine. Also, eat dinner together every night (or as much as possible).

FYI, I didn't go to a fancy Montessori school and struggled with reading in kindergarten. Some of my peers who had a parent at home until they were in high school are still struggling to complete basic courses at community college.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby bru » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:23 pm

Our 4.5 yo son is in his second year of Preschool. It is through our Public school system and it is 2.5 hrs/5 days a week. He even takes a bus one way. I think he has gotten a lot out of it.

His first year his teacher was younger, kind of a free spirit, did things like reward the kids with toys and a few other things that I didn't think was exactly what I wanted for my son. So I talked to the head of the program and she suggested his current teacher, a 30+ year teacher who runs a much more structured classroom. At our conference I was very impressed with all the things that had been accomplished in just a few months. I hope his Kindergarten teacher will be as good.

So my advice for the OP would be whatever you decide make sure you are comforable with the instructor and if not seek out someone who will be a better fit for your child.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby OnFire » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:42 pm

Some more background. I work as a firefighter/paramedic with a 24 on/48 hours off rotating schedule. My wife owns her dental practice and works her schedule around mine. Days I am at the firehouse, she works 9-1 and we have a nanny who we like and trust come to our house for $10 an hour. Days that our older son goes to school she picks him up for us. We wind up paying for both. I went to medical school before dropping out to pursue my lifelong passion. We both value education very highly.

The school is open to anyone who can pay the tuition. It's called Bobbie Noonan and I believe it's a chain/franchise. We have dinner as a family every night I'm no at the firehouse. We go to gymnastics one hour a week with both boys, and visit a local children's museum about once a month. We belong to the local zoo and have frequent playtime at the local park and at home. So far he is loving school, making friends, and the teachers are saying he is getting along great. They have story time, sing songs, eat snacks, play dress up, have recess out side on the playground during the spring and fall, and learn about taking turns and potty training. I am happy with the school and instruction.

My concern was the cost/benefit that's less clear. If we have three kids and put all of them through a similar program, that's $15K. We still owe so many of our student loans, it's hard to fathom paying both. We live relatively frugally and it's hard to pay off loans ahead of time, max out 401ks, Roths, 529s, pay early on the mortgages (have one rental property) and save for the next car, etc. We are only putting away $50 a month for college for BOTH boys at the moment.

My wife is strongly in favor of the school. Until finances become critical, I think I will let sleeping dogs lie.

Thanks.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby JCom » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:48 am

Studies show that children with preschool have lower drop out rates and better overall outcomes. Studies also show that who your parents are will affect a child's outcome far more than all the other factors. If its a struggle to pay the bills and save at the same time then I would skip it. If I felt comfortable financially then I would absolutely take advantage of preschool.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby epilnk » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:48 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:Your daughter is 3 years old only once in her life, and there are some lessons best learned young.

Exactly why I am a believer in high quality early childhood education.

Whether you should send your child to preschool of course depends upon what you expect preschool to accomplish. If your focus is the alphabet and counting, you can do that much better at home. Values are the family's job whether the child is in preschool or not. Kids can socialize outside of school. Social skills development, on the other hand, is not quite the same as social interaction. Trained teachers and a stable peer group add value here. If you volunteer in your kids' kindergarten you very quickly see how easy it is to distinguish the kids who had preschool from the ones who did not, just from their behavior. But the visible distinction fades by first or second grade, and I don't recall ever noting an academic difference.

When my kids were in preschool there wasn't as much buzz about the development of executive function as there is today. My elder son loved preschool, but I didn't really think he "needed" it - he's the type to thrive in just about any environment. His gifted younger brother, however, was academically advanced but strong willed, insecure, and immature. I suspect that in the long run his two years of Montessori preschool will turn out to be the most important years of his education. Looking back, I believe executive function development was the most valuable thing Montessori was providing. Both are currently excellent students, and I give a great deal of credit to their preschool.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby Alex Frakt » Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:36 am

I live in Chicago and have a 4 year old. Have you looked at the Chicago Park District programs? Most of the parks with a fieldhouse have a preschool program of some sort. They run from 1 all the way up to 15 hours a week and the cost is nominal. I've been very happy with the programs my son has attended. They are mostly play, with some crafts and singing/dancing mixed in. Not much if any academic work, but cognitive scientists appear to be coming to a consensus that that is exactly the way it should be for preschoolers.

BTW, Park District classes for kids are an incredible asset in general, not just the preschool ones. We take them all the time. My son is currently taking three in a row on Thursday mornings at Northerly Island (fka Meigs Field), soccer at Kosciuszko Park on Saturday and Mommy and Me Yoga on Sundays at Jefferson Park.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby bru » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:33 am

Alex Frakt wrote:I live in Chicago and have a 4 year old.

You, me (in the NW 'burbs) and the OP should arrange a play date for our kids. While they play we would talk all things Boglehead of course :wink: .
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby sprmario2k3 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:20 pm

I have a 4 yr old and 2 yr old. I am a VP of Finance at a real estate developer and I attended private schools K-12. My wife is an activities director at a Miami-Dade public high school. She was raised in public schools K-12.

I cannot tell you how often we discuss education and what we will do with our children in the future. Opinions vary greatly in our circle of friends.

We have friends who do not even consider spending any money on education. They believe that even if private schools are better, that they are not so much better to justify the cost. We have other friends who think that public schools are full of bad kids with bad parents, even in good areas of town and even in highly rated public schools.

Private Schools in Miami are very expensive. For the most part you have 2 options. Religious schools (mostly catholic) will routinely run about $14 to $15k. Non-religious private schools typically run for $24 to $28k, growing at 5% per year.

We do well, but not that well. I firmly believe that private schooling is better. The question is how much better? and is it worth the extra cost. We live in a decent school district. We have 2 charter schools that are top 10 in the county. The main public elementary is A rated as are the two charter schools, so we have 3 A rated schools to choose from. A good friend of ours is in the same situation. They felt that they could be either the poorest family at the private school, just barely getting by or they could be one of the most well of families in the public schools and use a lot of that extra money to save an cover the extras. They went the public school route. All three of their kids are in the gifted track as well at the charter school.

We have made a commitment for the next year and a half at the private pre-school. We don't know what we will do after that at this point when our son is up for Kindergarten. It is going to be a very tough decision.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:16 pm

sprmario2k3 wrote:We do well, but not that well. I firmly believe that private schooling is better. The question is how much better? and is it worth the extra cost.


You might be surprised how much some private schools will work with you financially. We are lucky enough to be able to send our kids to a private school, and we feel that it is appropriate that we make donations to the school so that some other kids, equally deserving but whose families are less financially lucky, can also attend. We live in an affluent area, and interestingly, there is more diversity (economic and ethnic) in the private school than the public, to some extent because of scholarships.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby epilnk » Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:19 pm

sprmario2k3 wrote:I have a 4 yr old and 2 yr old. I am a VP of Finance at a real estate developer and I attended private schools K-12. My wife is an activities director at a Miami-Dade public high school. She was raised in public schools K-12.

I cannot tell you how often we discuss education and what we will do with our children in the future. Opinions vary greatly in our circle of friends.

We have friends who do not even consider spending any money on education. They believe that even if private schools are better, that they are not so much better to justify the cost. We have other friends who think that public schools are full of bad kids with bad parents, even in good areas of town and even in highly rated public schools.

Private Schools in Miami are very expensive. For the most part you have 2 options. Religious schools (mostly catholic) will routinely run about $14 to $15k. Non-religious private schools typically run for $24 to $28k, growing at 5% per year.

We do well, but not that well. I firmly believe that private schooling is better. The question is how much better? and is it worth the extra cost. We live in a decent school district. We have 2 charter schools that are top 10 in the county. The main public elementary is A rated as are the two charter schools, so we have 3 A rated schools to choose from. A good friend of ours is in the same situation. They felt that they could be either the poorest family at the private school, just barely getting by or they could be one of the most well of families in the public schools and use a lot of that extra money to save an cover the extras. They went the public school route. All three of their kids are in the gifted track as well at the charter school.

We have made a commitment for the next year and a half at the private pre-school. We don't know what we will do after that at this point when our son is up for Kindergarten. It is going to be a very tough decision.

I believe the variance is large enough to swamp out any small difference in the mean. And the schools available to any one family form too small a sample to be representative of a larger trend anyway. So don't base the decision on public vs private, consider only the group of schools actually available to you. And disregard test scores.

In my town the consensus among nearly everyone is that the private schools here are not superior to the public schools. The catholic school is still popular with catholic parents, but I know many people who have left private for public and none who have gone the other way. However with rapidly growing class sizes in our public schools I know some who are reconsidering the smaller classes of the private schools to get their child more one on one attention.
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Re: Is Preschool worth it? for $5,000?

Postby 13characters » Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:37 pm

I'm not a parent, but I did read an article that speaks to this question recently.

The Early Education Racket
If you are reading this article, your kid probably doesn’t need preschool.


Excerpts:

But what does all this have to do with preschool? Research suggests that preschool only benefits children from these disadvantaged families (in particular, families that are below the poverty line, whose mothers are uneducated, or who are racial minorities). This could be because preschool acts as a kind of “equalizer,” ensuring that for at least a few hours a day, these kids get the same high-quality interaction with adults as more advantaged children do, which helps to even the developmental playing field.


This is not to say that parents who have money can do anything they want and their kids will be fine. We all know plenty of horrible adults who were once rich kids. But as Tucker-Drob puts it, upper-middle-class parents do “tend to be choosing between all very good options.”


And so forth.

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