Skip to main content

Is public or private preschool right for your child?

Find out what kind of preschool will best fit your child's needs

If your child is ready for preschool, you’ll have to decide if public school vs. private school is right for them. Which one you choose depends on a number of factors, including cost, schedule, parenting style, and location. We’ll take you through which questions to ask yourself when making this decision for your little one and yourself.

Preschool teacher talking with students at a table

Public preschool

Public preschool is a popular option for parents as a go-to choice that is in town, near where they live. Kids are able to continue there as they grow to attend kindergarten and beyond at the same school. This not only gives them a sense of routine — getting to know the building, playground, drop-off and pickup system, staff, and cafeteria, but it also helps them make and keep friends they’ll have year after year.

Related Videos

The local public school sometimes offers free preschool, but other times it has a price associated with it. In most cases, the public option costs (much) less than a private option, even if it does cost money.

The school hours may only be a half day or a shorter day without after-school care available with the public option, and class sizes may be larger than some private schools.

Child with abacus

Private preschool

You may want to get one or two years of a different type of education or have unique needs for school hours before the transition to public school, or you may not be planning on public school for the elementary age at all.

There are many options for private preschool. A Montessori school emphasizes independence. A coop has parents pitch in with the learning. A day care has longer hours available and may have less of a curriculum. Some independent schools may offer outdoor learning or other unique offerings.

Your preschooler may not be ready for prep school or boarding school yet. But some private preschools may give your child a little extra attention with a lower staff-to-child ratio. You may also have the benefit of a newer facility or other perks from the school that you get to choose instead of the one districted school you’re automatically assigned.

Teacher sitting at a table with preschool students

Public preschool vs. private preschool

Your choice simply depends on what will be the best fit with your needs, budget, and child’s personality… and which school has availability. What fits with your parenting philosophy and goals? If you think the Montessori method is right for your child, consider getting your child the foundation of one to two years of Montessori before elementary school. If you’re concerned about transitioning from a different preschool to a public elementary school, go ahead and start out at the public preschool. Budget, driving distance, and work schedule may make your choice for you.

As long as your child is safe, happy, and learning, you can’t go wrong!

Editors' Recommendations

Tips on how to get your toddler to follow directions willingly (seriously)
Not following directions is common toddler behavior. Here's how to overcome it together and with respect
two parents playing with blocks with a child

Toddlers are full of energy and exceptionally curious. It can make these years fun for parents and they can start learning more and more about their little one’s unique personality and interests. Toddlers are learning, too. As they become stronger and more mobile, they become more independent — which is a natural part of growing up. However, it also makes teaching a toddler directions important.

Making a toddler follow directions can feel like a steep uphill climb. Think about it: Would you like being told that you must skip lunch with a friend to power through an unexpected work project? Pushback is not abnormal toddler behavior. You and your child can work together to overcome challenges.

Read more
These are the top subjects to cover when you talk to teens about sex – What your child needs to know
How to have the teen sex ed talk
Dad talking to daughter

Ideally, there shouldn't be one day where you sit down and have "the talk" with your tween or teen. Sexual education is a a lifelong conversation. But if you've reached the age where your tween or teen is already potentially thinking about sex and you haven't laid any groundwork, here's how to talk to your teen about sex.

When you're covering teen sex ed, you don't just educate your teenager about sex for them; you also talk about sex for their partner. They need to know what to do in a situation where a partner isn't respecting consent, and you also need to tell them to respect their partner's consent.

Read more
How to plan your toddler’s feeding schedule to keep them happy
Here are the benefits of a toddler feeding schedule
Toddler girl eating fruit in the kitchen

As children grow from babyhood to toddlerhood, a lot of things change, including how, what, and when they eat! It's an exciting time introducing your toddler to new foods, textures, and flavors, but they can also be a picky bunch. If we left it up to toddlers to create their own feeding schedule, they'd probably munch on Goldfish crackers, string cheese, and not much else.

A toddler's feeding schedule is important because not only does it help keep the growing little one from getting "hangry," but it also helps ensure they're getting the nutrients they need for their physical and mental development. Keeping toddlers on any kind of schedule isn't always easy, but having a toddler feeding schedule is a great way to keep your little one happy and healthy. Of course, every child is different, but here are some easy ways to create a toddler feeding schedule that will work for your family.

Read more