February 16, 2015

The Preschool Roundup; The Reviews

Back in January I had posted an entry about how taxing, but important it was to narrow down which preschool Noelle would attend next year! Although it may seem silly to some people (it's preschool after all, not college), we were taking it pretty seriously because we want Noelle to have a great start to her educational career, and we value and acknowledge how important early childhood education is. (Might as well be college!) Also, we started considering the fact that I would not be staying home this upcoming fall, so she would need some type of all day care. We knew that we wanted her to attend something more similar to a structured school day, than to daycare. With this in mind, we broadened our horizons and checked out even more schools than we had originally planned!

Here were the initial three schools that we visited: (I've highlighted the things that I thought really stood out about each preschool.)

  • 2 days/week + has add on day options + extended day options.
  • 2.5 hours per day.
  • Roughly $193/month.
  • Includes physical education, swim lessons, and indoor/outdoor playgrounds.
  • Includes snack.
  • 1:8 ratio.
  • 2 family social events per year.
  • Holiday program.
  • Assessments/1-2 conferences per year.
  • Lots of community events within the center; workshops, family events, holiday parties, etc.

  • 2 days/week.
  • 2.5 hours per day.
  • Roughly $125/month.
  • Includes gym for large motor skills + outdoor playground.
  • 1 on-site field trip and 1 off-site field trip per year.
  • Includes snack.
  • 1:8 ratio.
  • 2 family social events per year.
  • Christmas program.
  • Monthly library time.
  • Assessments/1-2 conferences per year.
  • Lots of community service.
  • Accredited by the NAYEC.

  • 3 days/week + extended day options + all day option.
  • 3 hours per day. (Or all day.)
  • Roughly $160/month.
  • All day option is $900/month.
  • All day option includes breakfast, lunch, and a snack as part of tuition.
  • 1:10 ratio.
  • Includes older school buddies that assist and become friends with preschooler throughout the year.
  • Includes physical education and music class, each weekly.
  • Weekly library time.
  • On-site/off-site field trips.
  • Christmas program.
  • Assessments/conferences.
  • Accredited by the NAYEC.

Then we expanded our search to find more schools with an all day program. Here are the additional schools in the area we looked into:

  • Offers 3-5 days + all day options.
  • 3 hours per day. (Or all day.)
  • Roughly $650/month for 5 days. 
  • 1:8 ratio.
  • Field trips planned.
  • Daily music lessons.
  • Montessori methods are used, but there is still structured circle time.

  • Offers 2-5 days + all day options.
  • 3 hours per day. (Or all day.)
  • Roughly $693/month for 5 days. (Tuition fees are calculated by how many days and hours your child is enrolled for instead of a flat rate.)
  • All day option includes lunch, two snacks, and milk.
  • 1:8 ratio + classroom aide.
  • Around 4 family functions per year.
  • Christmas program.
  • 1 off-site field trip per year.
  • Accredited by the NAYEC.

  • Offers anywhere from 2-5 days (all day).
  • 6 hours per day + before/after school care option.
  • Roughly $700/month for 5 days.
  • Tuition includes lunch and a snack.
  • 1:10 ratio + 2 paraprofessionals per classroom.
  • Offers busing, pick up/drop off directly from home.
  • Curriculum lined up with Mounds View district's kindergarten program.
  • Assessments/conferences.
  • Offers a resource center with parenting books, children's books, and toys to check out. 

Joey and I seriously did our research. We visited each school, spoke to the directors, and toured the classrooms. Whenever we could, we also would bring Noelle so she could see it too. We wanted to see her reaction. There was something that we loved about each one.

  • Kids Corner is where she currently attends for her First Friends Preschool class, and although I love her teachers, and think the community center offers so much to families, it sadly does not have an all day option for us. It was a great stepping stone for her, and we'll always have good words to say about it. 
  • Incarnation was our very first choice (it just has that warm feeling, a few of her friends are attending there, and is so close to home), before we decided that we wanted her to attend more than twice a week. 
  • St. Odilia's was the next school at the top of our list. We were impressed with their curriculum, and loved the large classrooms. Joey also had attended Catholic school when he was in grade school, so he enjoyed the nostalgia that St. O's gave him. Ultimately, the cost was a bit of a factor for us. We also know in our hearts that she will be a Mounds View Mustang and will attend the district's public schools, so we didn't want her to get attached to a school that she would end up having to leave.
  • Musical Montessori had a lot of appeals to it as well. First off the director/owner/teacher is sweet and is very passionate about her work and the children. Joey and I sensed that right away upon meeting her. We loved how close the school was to our house as well as the super affordable price. The only drawback for me was that there was no meal or snack included in the tuition (therefore makes sense that the fee is less). They don't have access to a kitchen or to a place to keep lunches cool, so lunches cannot contain anything perishable.  Because I'm horrible at packing lunches, especially if limited to only non-perishable foods,  am not sure I would fair well doing it every single day. 
  • Noah's Ark was a very close contender for us towards the end. The reminded me a lot of Incarnation, but offered an all day option, as well as 5 days a week. I was really impressed with their reputation, how long their teachers had been working there, and how accommodating they were to varied family schedules (ex. they offer their fees by days/hours instead of flat rates). Although the school itself is a bit older (they have been around for decades), I loved the warm and friendly feelings I got from visiting and observing their classrooms. I was a skip and a hop away from signing Noelle up.
  • In the end, we went with Mounds View's Adventures in Learning (AIL) preschool program. Joey and I attended the parent information night and were blown away. We were so impressed with the curriculum, how clean, spacious, and modern (there is a Smart Board in each class) the school building was. Being connected to the rest of Mounds View district, they have paraprofessionals in the classroom, the same curriculum that will be studied deeper in kindergarten, and have access to so many resources. We were not only impressed, but after some discussion decided it was in both our daughter's best interests to begin their education there since we have plans for them to attend Mounds View for K-12. Not to mention I currently substitute there, and would love to become a teacher there myself. 
We are so excited about our decision, and know that it was right for us. Apparently the AIL program became so popular this year that they had to add an additional class for it for the 2015-2016 school year, and even then there is an extensive waiting list. I'm so excited for Noelle to start this new adventure, and am so excited that because Noelle was admitted, Halle will have no trouble enrolling in the future. Starting next September Noelle will be attending school 5 days a week! My baby is not such a baby anymore!

Preschool here we come!!
Go Mustangs!!

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