6 Ways to Save Money on Preschool Enrollment

by Sarah Winfrey on 31 January 2013 1 comment
Photo: amcdawes

If you have a preschool-aged child, you know that paying for preschool can be expensive. While there are a wide variety of prices and preschool philosophies out there, looking at the bill almost always feels like a shock to the system. There are, however, a few ways to save some money and still get your child the jump start on their education that you’ve been hoping for. (See also: 7 Important Lessons Frugal Parents Teach Their Children)

1. Shop Around

Look at more than one preschool before you sign up.

In our area, some preschools are five to six times more expensive than others. Are they better? That’s up to each parent to decide. The point is, you need to know what is available how schools differ from each other.

Remember that sometimes it’s worthwhile to spend more to send your child to a school that fits their personality. But if the schools are mostly the same, you don’t need to break the bank on the most expensive one. You won’t know which one that is, though, unless you look at several of them.

2. Talk to Parents

Other parents are your best resource for finding a good deal on a preschool. They’ve been where you are, and they may be able to tell you where you’ll get the best deal, where you’ll spend more but it will be worth every penny, or where your money will be wasted.

If you belong to any sort of parents’ group, ask everyone you can. Sure, some people will insist you go one place and others will send you another direction, but at least you’ll have more information. If you’re looking for something specific in a preschool, ask questions that will help you narrow your choices to those that will serve your child’s needs well.

3. Volunteer

Many preschools will allow you to volunteer and reduce your bill. While you’ll still have to pay (and sometimes the reduction isn’t very much), you’ll offset at least a bit of your child’s education. As an added bonus, you’ll get to be in and around the environment of the preschool, so you’ll have a better feel for what goes on there and what your child is learning.

4. Look for Aid

Some preschools offer financial aid. While these can be few and far between, it’s worth at least asking about, especially if you want to send your child somewhere you can’t afford.

You can also look into state and federal aid, although with the economy in its current state, these offers have gotten pretty sparse over the last few years. If you’re truly working on a low income, there should be some sort of free or subsidized preschool available for your child. If you make a bit more money, you may be out of luck.

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5. Do It Yourself (or Join a Co-op)

If paying for preschool really grates on you or just isn’t in the budget, you can always choose to do it yourself.

There are a million different resources available online, from free, printable worksheets to entire curriculums. You’ll want to evaluate everything based on what you know about your child’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses, but most adults feel competent enough to teach things like shapes, sounds, colors, numbers, etc.

Some children don’t do well with preschool at home, either because they want to get out or because they don’t like to work with their parents that way. In that case, some areas have co-operative preschools. You’re still likely to pay a fee, but most of the classes are parent-led, and you’ll take your turn every so often. Or, you can get together with some parents of like-aged kids and make your own co-op.

6. Supplement With Freebies

Whether your child is in preschool or you’re doing it at home, take advantage of free options around your city. Many museums offer free days and, while it will be busy, it’s a great chance to expose your child to something they wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

While there are certain skills that kids need to learn before kindergarten, they’ll be in a better position to learn if they’ve used their brains in a lot of different ways. Giving them the opportunity to see many different things will help them develop the ability to learn. And there’s no need to pay for this exposure if you’re willing to do your homework and battle a few crowds.

There’s no need to feel overwhelmed at the cost of preschool. Instead, take your time, look at the options available to you, and then choose what’s best for your child and your budget. Give yourself as much time as you need to make the decision, so you can be sure it is one both you and your child will be happy with. 

Were you able to save money on your child's preschool? Please share your experience in comments!

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Michael

We are in a co-op, one of the few remaining in the area. It seems more and more co-ops have been closing. I'm not sure if it's because more people are forced into going back to work, leaving parents unable to do the work necessary to participate, or if more parents believe that pre-schools can do better with a fully designed program that doesn't require parent participation. Regardless, it is great for us.