Preschool Guide for Cincinnati and NKY Families
When I was a new mom, I had no idea January was the month to start looking at and choosing preschools. No one tells you these things!
Luckily, I had a friend (Karen, now a fellow FFC writer) who did the legwork for me. I managed to get my daughter into a good preschool thanks to her.
Now, my son is 3 and I’m going about the search a lot differently. I’m better informed, so I know what to look for, which questions to ask, how to evaluate schools, etc. And I wanted to share what I’ve learned over the years to help all you prospective preschool parents out there in the tristate area.
I already imparted one very important piece of advice in this post, but it’s worth repeating: January is preschool shopping season. So get on it.
Many preschools will host open houses during the month of January (and sometimes February), so parents can bring in their children and get a chance to sample the goods. As you look at various schools, mark your calendar for the open houses you’d like to attend, and note when registration occurs or applications are due. The good schools usually fill up quickly, and if you wait too long, your child may end up at the bottom of a long waiting list.
Of course, preschools will let you come in at other times, too, so don’t sweat it if you miss an open house.
Pre-K: It’s kind of a big deal
Perhaps you grew up as a child of the 1970s or ’80s like me, going to “nursery school” or “playschool,” a place where you messed around with finger paints, sang silly songs and snacked on juice and crackers. Your parents might have sent you there for a year or two, hoping those few hours a week would socialize you enough so you wouldn’t freak out when the bus dropped you off the first day of kindergarten.
If you haven’t already heard, early childhood education has come a long way, baby. Those first few precious years (including preschool) form the foundation for the rest of a child’s life, both in and out of school. And research shows that for kids who miss out on a solid preschool experience, there’s no catching up. That’s serious pressure on us parents, right?!
Here’s what kids get out of preschool (just the highlights, mind you):
- Exposure to basic learning fundamentals (ABCs, numbers, shapes, etc.)
- Social development – not simply how to get along with others, but how to share, negotiate and resolve conflicts with peers
- Acquisition of pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills — all musts for kindergarten readiness
- A new sense of self-confidence and independence
- Large and small motor development, such as balancing on a beam or working with beads
- Language skills and self-expression
If you weren’t already convinced that preschool is paramount, I hope I’ve nudged you toward considering it.
Start your search
You could spend a bunch of time Googling preschools — or you could reap the rewards of my labor over the holidays. I put together a searchable directory of more than 300 preschools throughout Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana. I personally went to each school’s website and verified the information included in our directory, so you don’t go on any wild goose chases.
Feel free to search by ZIP code, educational philosophy (play-based/traditional, religious, Montessori, etc.) or keywords. We’re working on making this directory even easier to use and more robust — but the info is all there now and ready for you to dig in.
When not blogging for Family Friendly Cincinnati, you can find Susan writing at her personal blog,Working Moms Against Guilt.
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This article no longer shows the 300+ schools. Was it modified or am I missing something? It used to show every school in the area and now it only lists a handful.
Hi Stacey – The link has been fixed. We were having issues with our database. Sorry about the delay.
[email protected] says
Great article for people who are searching for preschools; however, gotta disagree on this… “Those first few precious years (including preschool) form the foundation for the rest of a child’s life, both in and out of school. And research shows that for kids who miss out on a solid preschool experience, there’s no catching up.” Yes, those first few years are important, but missing out on preschool is not going to hinder their education (if they have parents at home that are working with them on those developmental things you mentioned). Many children simply aren’t ready for the preschool environment and subjecting them to such creates nothing but anxiety, stress, and will make it more difficult for them to attend school in the future. Feels like you’re pressuring people to put their kids in preschool when they can thrive just as well (and maybe even more) at home. Don’t stress already worried mommas out and let them keep their babies in their arms for as long as they can!
The link to your directory is not working. . .help!!
Shelly, thanks for the heads up! We must have done some housekeeping that changed the directory links slightly. I just updated this post with the correct links.
Thanks again–and hope you find the information helpful.
The link no longer works again.
Jillian Kuhlmann says
The search for quality early care is tough! Thanks for sharing your experience. For parents in the Greater Cincinnati area with questions about what quality early education looks like, eligibility for child care subsidy, free child care referrals, and more, check out 4C for Children:
4C is the child care resource and referral agency for 40 counties in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. We’re here to help!
Yes, I should have included your agency in this post. Cincinnati is lucky to have 4C.
Thanks for your comment, Joie. I will be sure to add The Growing Room to our directory!
Joie Linser says
Your directory is a fantastic resource! Lots of great information. You left off an incredible school, though. The Growing Room in Madeira. My kids have been going through there for years and we could not be happier. The classroom is warm and inviting, the curriculum is varied and interesting, and of course the teachers are top notch.