As the preschool year winds down, The Teacher and I have had to do some thinking about the next year and make some decisions. Even though our budget is already pretty lean, we choose to pay for our children to attend preschool.
At first, I hesitated to spend the money. I tend to consider preschool more of a luxury than a necessity, so I wondered whether it was really needed when money was so tight already. The Teacher felt like it would be a good thing, so we dove in and made it work. I crunched the numbers and determined that we could do it.
After three years, we are huge fans of preschool. Our kids love it and we feel like they have benefited greatly. Here are some of the reasons why we are willing to pay for preschool when money is tight.
It fills a gap that I cannot fill
One of the hardest things about being a parent is trying to juggle it all. Whether it’s trying to keep up with the laundry, trying to stay within budget, or anticipating everyone’s every changing needs, there is simply not enough of me to go around. I do the best that I can, but I am not superwoman.
Sending our children to preschool has provided them with the socialization, educational structure, and development opportunities that I have not been able to provide for them consistently on my own at home. (I especially appreciated preschool when I was caring for a new babies and very sleep deprived).
I am not passionate about teaching
My husband loves teaching. The more I see him in action, the more I realize that teaching is not where my passion lies nor where I am gifted or skilled. I’m a smart person and could learn. Almost every homeschooling parent I meet tells me they felt very ill-equipped starting out, but that there are many great resources out there to help and that they “found their groove” eventually.
I don’t doubt those statements, but at this point in my life, I’m not passionate enough about teaching my children at home that I’m ready to figure it all out. I have learned to “never say never,” so there may come a time when that will change. For right now, I’m thankful for the teachers at our preschool who are gifted and passionate about preschoolers. I also admire those of you who do educate your children at home.
It gives me one-on-one time with each child
As our children have entered preschool (only two are currently enrolled), it provides some priceless one-on-one time with their younger siblings that I would not have been afforded. I treasure that special time with each of them individually.
It gives us space from one other
We live in a small home, in close proximity to one another. Most of the time, I believe that it is a good thing. Our kids are learning valuable life skills by living closely with one another. But, at the same time, space can sometimes be a good thing. I miss them when they are gone (and they miss each other), but the little bit of distance is positive too.
Depending on where you send them, preschool can be expensive. For the reasons mentioned above, we believe the cost is worth it, but we still cannot afford to pay an arm and a leg. After all, we are talking about preschool, not college. 🙂
Here are some ways you can pay for preschool when your budget is tight like ours.
1. Save all year round
For many, it is a huge hit to pay all that tuition at one time. Some schools require monthly payments, but even those are only spread out through the school year. Saving throughout the entire 12 month year helps spread out the tuition costs, so it may not be as bad as you think. I take the total tuition costs, divide it up over 12 months, and make a monthly deposit into our slush fund. This way, the money is ready when I need to make the payments.
2. Choose a school that offers a discount if you volunteer
Our preschool does offer this option for the 1 and 2-year old classes. I have not been able to take advantage of it myself since I have younger kids, but it’s a nice option.
3. Send your child for fewer days
No one says you have to send your child to preschool every day of the week. If you need to save some money on tuition, you can send them for 2 or 3 days instead.
4. Ask about financial aid or scholarships
It never hurts to ask if your preschool offers scholarships or financial aid. While it can be humbling to ask, some preschools have very generous donors who give specifically for those who need some financial help. I just attended a fundraiser at my nephew’s preschool and the generosity was phenomenal.
5. Work part time at the preschool
Oftentimes, preschools will offer a discount if you work part time for the school. Your child’s preschool may need some extra administrative or bookkeeping help and you may need the extra savings to make it fit your budget. My sister has done bookkeeping for years at their church’s preschool and receives an employee discount.
How to educate your children, including preschool, is 100% a personal choice. I know people who homeschooled their children for preschool, others who sent their child to a preschool, and some who have opted for a combination of the two. There is no right way to educate your child, but preschool has been a great option for us!
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Do you think preschool is worth the cost?