City vs. Suburbs: The Hunt for Early Childhood Education

If you’re one of the city families who managed to stick it out through the early years navigating the city with a baby – dragging strollers up and down flights of stairs only to have to store them in the middle of your already-cramped living space, trying to keep baby on a sleep schedule in the midst of endless outside noise and disturbances, and having your walls close in around you as the room fills with bouncers, walkers, and other baby gear – it might feel like once your baby finally makes it beyond the toddler years you’re in the clear. The truth is, though, that in the city you’re trading that minor set of woes for an entirely new, higher pressure set — the search for early childhood education.


In the city, early childhood education (we’re talking preschool and Kindergarten) is a notoriously grueling process. So grueling, in fact, that entire careers exist around this problem – preschool admissions coaching. You read that right! Not “college,” not “prep school,” not even “elementary.” Preschool. Admissions. Coaches. If you don’t see yourself hiring one of those (and, really, even if you do!), here’s what you can expect from your search for early childhood education in the city….



If you want your child to enter preschool around age 3, most experts recommend that you begin your search around the time your child turns 2 – a full year in advance. Even after extensively researching all the schools, you aren’t guaranteed a spot at the one you choose. Once you narrow it down, you’ll fill out pages and pages of applications, attend interviews with school officials (both parent and child!), and then you wait. And wait. And while you wait to find out whether or not your child got a spot in the school of your choice, all the spots at your back-up schools are filling up. Weeks (or months) later, your letter of acceptance or rejection comes. If you’re rejected, you’re back to square one but this time, with one of your second tier options that now has even fewer open spots, or none at all. If you’re accepted, yay! The celebratory mood continues…. until you receive that first bill (of many!) for multiple thousands of dollars.



But here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be this way! In the suburbs the process is much lower pressure and lower cost. Here are a few ways the hunt for early childhood education is easier in the suburbs.



1) Options! The early childhood education problem in the city boils down to the classic problem of supply and demand. There just aren’t enough spots for the number of kids who need them. In the suburbs, people and businesses are more spread out. There are more than enough facilities to accommodate the families who need them and you’re pretty much guaranteed a spot in your top choice. With all this choice, you can worry less about the process of applying and getting in and instead focus on finding the perfect match for your family. The tables turn – instead of you and your child getting grilled in interviews, you’re the one in the driver’s seat come interview time. You can meet several school administrators, tour facilities as a potential customer as opposed to someone trying to woo preschool directors, find your perfect curriculum match, and have several options come selection time.

2) Cost. Most preschools will set you back at least a few thousand dollars, but there’s no denying that the city preschools are significantly more expensive and not necessarily for better quality. In the suburbs, there is a broad range of prices. If you want to pay just a few thousand dollars a year, your child can still have a great preschool experience. In the suburbs, some towns even have free preschool and most towns also have free Kindergarten.

3) Quality. All that talk about cost might have you wondering if you’re sacrificing quality for money and the answer is a resounding NO! Schools in the NYC suburbs can be consistently rated among the top in the country.   In the suburbs, the public options can be just as highly rated as the private ones, but the private options are still there for the taking if you want them.

If you’re finding the search for early childhood education in the city daunting or nearly impossible, schedule your free Suburban Success Call with FromCityTo and let’s talk suburban schools! 



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