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NYC Parenting: Finding the Right Preschool for Your Child

This post is sponsored by KinderCareThanks for supporting Baby Meets City!

Of all the challenges of NYC parenting (and there are plenty to choose from), deciding on your child's first preschool experience is near the top of the list. Not to start on a downer, as we all know there are countless benefits to raising a child in the city, but making that decision is a challenge. It just is.

Once you've come to grips with that realization, though, I'd suggest you quickly move on! Like anywhere, weighing the pros and cons of your options, based on where you live, school reputations, accreditation and affordability will all come in to play (we'll get into more of that in a moment). In our particular situation, with both girls, we employed a nanny from the time they were 3 months old and I returned to work. When it was time for preschool, I connected with fellow moms in my neighborhood of northern Manhattan who had started a small Waldorf preschool. It was the right fit for us, a sweet half day program, and my nanny was able to pick them up after school and care for them until we returned home.

Searching for preschool options from atop the Empire State Building
BUT - the process wasn't without its challenges. Millie actually started first in a home-based preschool, and I would have to leave her there screaming and crying each morning. It was terrible, and my feelings of "mom guilt" were almost unbearable. Luckily, we found our happy preschool ending, but I'm here to say, I speak about the struggle of finding the perfect fit for your child with experience.

As a result, I wanted to pass along a list of preschool thought points from KinderCare, a new daycare and preschool option for NYC families. Their suggestions come from experience, having been in the business of early education and daycare for over 40 years. I wanted to share a few of my favorite suggestions from their list, and here's one I'm adding myself: breathe, parents, breathe.

First, location, location, location. Do yourself a favor and pick a preschool that's within walking distance or easy commuting with your child. It's one thing to think about it on a gorgeous, sunny day -- but remember the LONG winter months ahead and the drudgery of snow and rain (it's bad enough solo, but walking with a todder in that mess... agh!)

Also, when you go out on preschool tours, look out for the basics -- cleanliness, safety measures, the school's nutrition program. Is the school accredited? Equally important, look for what you can't find in a brochure -- the heart and passion of the school's instructors when you talk to them. I wish I had spent a little more time on this last part in that nightmare experience I mentioned in the beginning.

I love that KinderCare encourages parents to go beyond the brochure when looking at preschools, welcomes questions and implores families to think about what's most important to them in finding an enriching experience for a child's first introduction to school. This journey of parenthood won't always be perfect or Instagram-worthy; it's by turns bumpy and stressful, tiring and hilarious, but KinderCare aims to make the crucial step of finding the right preschool for your child as smooth as possible. And for that, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Good luck in your preschool search! If you choose to include KinderCare in your preschool search, click HERE for a list of their locations in NYC.

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