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Playing the Preschool Game

Last December, I had the very rare opportunity to spend some time thoroughly cleaning my house. I don’t know what it was about that day, but the stars were all aligned. My son was playing peacefully by himself, quietly moving from room to room with me, and he also napped for an unusually long time.  I remember thinking “How awesome would it be to just have a day like this where I could get things done?” In that moment, the skies opened up and the heavens began speaking to me. . . Hello! It’s called Mother’s Day Out!

By that afternoon, I began making phone calls to local preschools fully expecting to speak with a handful of eager directors just ready to open their arms to my sweet baby boy. I’m a new mom. Can you tell? After being transferred from voicemail to voicemail, I finally got a hold of an elderly woman who very nicely told me “waiting lists start in February.” Did she just laugh at me?

What I found out that day is that to a new mom, the Preschool Game is a foreign one; especially when you’re new to the area or don’t have a lot of friends with children around the same age.  I feel like it was pure luck I had this naïve experience because come August, I would have been that mom knocking on the door of preschool like a scene from an old Mervyn’s commercial: Open, Open, Open.

One of the benefits of living in Dallas is that weren’t not limited in our preschool options. With such diverse communities, we have the unique ability to choose when, where and how we want our children to learn. You might see a Montessori, Reggio Emilia, or Waldrof based school all within a few miles of each other. Or maybe you’re the type of parent who wants your child in a faith-based program, immersed in another language, or gym for a classroom. The combinations are endless!

So, where do you start?

First, start now! Enrollment at most schools begins in February for the Fall. Many fill up quickly, so begin contacting schools as soon as you’re able.

How do I find the right school?

One option: Google.

Google will give you basic information about almost all preschools in your area; where they’re located, reviews, and ratings. But, be careful! Often schools can show up as having 5 star ratings or as being labeled the “best,” but don’t put too much stock into this until you’ve researched the school for yourself. Sometimes schools can be placed with these ratings through paid advertisements or with a small number of reviews. Always check the sources, and use this information as a way of guiding you; not making your decision for you.

Another option: Check for Accreditation.

As a former educator, curriculum and structure is important to me. So, I also do a search using the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Educational Programs (NAC) or National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) database. When a preschool is accredited, they’ve passed a rigorous process of testing against very specific standards such as does the school maintain positive relationships among adults, children, and the community? Is there consistent curriculum and effective teaching and assessment? Is there effective school leadership? Don’t be alarmed if a preschool isn’t accredited. Some schools may have simply chosen not to go through the process; however, as a parent, it’s one way of reassuring that your concerns and questions about a school have already been evaluated.

The expert option: Word of Mouth.

Being new to preschools, I also rely on the stories and experiences of friends and family members. There’s nothing more valuable than hearing  from parents who’ve sent their children to a preschool or Mother’s Day Out program you’re looking into;  I feel listened to by the staff, the teachers are well educated, the school loves my child, etc.

Which is why Dallas Moms Blog is now opening up the discussion to you!

If you’re a mom who’s had preschool experience in Dallas and/or surrounding cities, we want to hear from you! Help new moms, like myself, get to know the options in their area!

Why did you choose your preschool? Did you have many options in your area of Dallas? What was your waiting/registration experience like?

If you’re new to the area or new to the preschool experience, here’s your chance to ask questions and get some answers! Simply leave a comment below, and with a little help from our blogger community, you’ll find out what you need to know.

So. . .what are you waiting for?

Let the discussion begin!

51 Responses to Playing the Preschool Game

  1. Jessica Nelson February 24, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    When did everyone put their kiddo in preschool? I think we’re going to go ahead and do it for our daughter (she’ll be 4 next January). We’re in the west Frisco area–any suggestions?
     

    • Krystal Hurst February 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

      I just enrolled my son at a Mother’s Day Out for the Fall and he’ll be exactly 18 months. I originally thought I was going to wait until the Fall after he turned 2 (he’d be 2 1/2), but thought that a 1/2 day for me would help me keep my sanity as a SAHM.  For Kindergarden preparedness, I think by 3-4 is a great age to start! Good preschools will have developed curriculum that will only help them be prepared for when they start school! Of course, it’s always dependent upon your child and what you think they’re ready for!

    • Lauren February 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

      I think I’ll be waiting until my kids are around 4 as well. I’ll probably start out with just 2 days a week and then when 5 (my oldest won’t start Kindergarten until 6 because of a summer b-day) maybe more days a week. 

  2. JenKay February 24, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    If you are in Far North Dallas or Addison area, I can’t say enough good things about Bent Tree Child Development Center. My son started at 18 months and is now in the Level III preschool program (he just turned 4). The school provides strong curriculum, activities and the staff is wonderful including the directors who run the school. I have seen the growth in my son every year with incredible learning this year. One of the best resources is talking to other moms especially as we make decisions for kindergarten. I am confident my son will be more than prepared for kindergarten (and he’s having a great time along the way).

  3. Lisamiller7 February 24, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    I live in Richardson. My son will be 3 and we wanted a preschool with a one-day option for three year olds that wouldn’t break the bank. I found good choices at graham cracker express and jubilee junction. We just got him registered for Jubilee Junction…Had to get there EARLY and there were only three spots open for his class. I’m really excited for him and I’ve heard great things about the school. The preschool/MDO dilemma is challenging!

  4. Kelly February 24, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    I live in Richardson, as well, and we just put our two older children in the MDO program at Dallas Bible Church.  We are homeschooling for kindergarten, but I still needed a morning to myself!  They seem very laid back about curriculum since it’s not their actual preschool class, and that’s exactly what we were looking for.

    I’ve also heard wonderful things about the Northaven Co-op in Dallas…particularly for mothers who want some time but still want to be a little more involved (volunteering there is mandatory).

  5. leila February 24, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Any suggestions id the dallas/oak cliff area?

    • guest February 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

      We just enrolled our 3 year old at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Dallas. 

  6. Brooke February 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    We chose Rainbow Connection Preschool. It gave us the unique ability to pick from a variety of times and classes. Rainbow is a boutique preschool, (not a daycare) where every child gets individualized attention. In the North Dallas/Richardson area, there are so many preschools, but none with the education level and experience of the teachers there. As a mother to 3 gifted and talented children and one special needs child, it is amazing how each one of them have thrived and really been given the tools for a successful entrance into kindergarten. The lessons are well thought out and all the day’s activities center on the day’s lesson. Enrollment is just now opening up, so call today.

    • Krystal H. February 24, 2013 at 8:05 am #

      We’ll be enrolling our son at Rainbow (Plano Rd. & Campbell) in Richardson this fall and I’m so excited! Since the teachers are all degreed, I’m so excited to see all the amazing things he’ll learn at a preschool where they focus on education and biblical teachings. They’ve only recently started a MDO for 18 mos and older. I wish they’d had this earlier, so I could have enrolled him sooner!

  7. conscientious February 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    In Richardson/Plano area, the preschool/Mother’s Day Out options that my playgroups/church friends/mom friends use are:
    Jubilee Junction
    Graham Cracker Express (Trinity Bible Church)
    First United Methodist Richardson
    Arapaho United Methodist Day School

    My kids have been/go to Arapaho UMC Day School and Graham Cracker Express. Love them both!

  8. Sallybatt
    Sallybatt February 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    We are sending our son to the new Prestonwood Baptist campus in Dallas. We have several friends who send their kids there and they love it. As a former kindergarten teacher, we LOVED having kids with at least 2 years of pre-school experience!

    • Krystal H. February 24, 2013 at 8:00 am #

      I also can’t say enough good things about Prestonwood Dallas (Hillcrest & Churchill Way). They’re extremely affordable compared to other schools, and the teachers are amazing. Only down side is that they’re only open Tuesdays and Thursdays, so if you’re looking for a preschool as your children get older (3+ days a week), you’ll have to find another option.

  9. stacie February 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Messiah Lutheran Lamb’s School is wonderful in Richardson/Plano area (Custer & Plano Pkwy). They have MDO thru Kindergarten.

    • Guest February 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

      Our family enjoys Messiah Lamb’s School also! The teachers are dedicated to the grow & development of the kids they teach.

  10. Mary Helen February 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    My son Carter (12 months) goes to Park Cities Baptist Church Mother’s Day Out once a week. They offer MDO on Tuesdays & Fridays from 9am to 2pm. We have been so happy with them! The teachers are so caring & loving and I can tell that they take really good care of him. They have lesson plans & bible lessons each week – obviously pretty simple for their age, but they will do things like focus on one color each day and have all that color toys out to play with, etc. They also have a special “baby” playground so that the kids can go outside and not get trampled by the “big” kids. I did have to go on a waiting list to get in, so I know that it is pretty popular. They are located on Northwest Highway between Preston & Hillcrest. Their website is http://www.pcbc.org/mothersday… if you need any other information. They also offer Preschool for older children (I believe 3 & up). Hope that helps!

  11. Anne February 28, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Could anyone offer any knowledge of and/or opinion of the Pre-K program at Dealy Elementary in DISD?

  12. Jennifer February 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    Both my 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 year old go to Parkway Hills. My older one has been going there since he was 1 and we love it. It is in East Plano off the tollway and Chapel Hill. They are moving to three days/wk for the older kids next year. T-W-H from 9-2. They offer both MDO and Preschool classes. I just can’t say enough good things about everyone there. They really know how to love on all the kids. They have music, bible and monthly chapel time. Along with both an indoor and outdoor playground. Plus they have Parents Night Out days on certain Friday nights which are a real treat for both kids and the parents.

  13. Brooke February 20, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    We live in North Dallas and have been very happy with The Creative School at Walnut Hill UMC (Marsh Lane and Walnut Hill). It’s a wonderful program where every teacher quickly gets to know your family and your child. I liked that they have a full-time music teacher and a great playground. It’s an active campus where the kids cook, plant flowers and collect leaves. I would recommend talking to moms with older children in your neighborhood. My earlychildhood association, NDECPTA, was a great resources for me.

  14. Megan February 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    We put out daughter in Mother’s Day Out at age 15 months. She’ll be considered preschool at age 3. We are at University Park United Methodist Church, and it’s FANTASTIC. The program is accredited. Her teachers are loving, smart, hands on, creative and very knowledgable. I highly recommend putting your kids in school before the age of four, even if it’s just one day a week and ESPECIALLY if they are only or first children. It’s good for them to be with someone other than mom or a nanny at home. Sophie adores her school, and even at her young age she’s learned four colors and how to interact with other kids. UPUMC places in February, so you want to get on the wait list ASAP. I went on in November 2011 for the 2012-2013 school year. We’ve made wonderful friends!

    • Jen January 16, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

      Megan,

      Do you know where I can get more info about MDO at UPUMC? I’ve searched on the UPUMC website and I can’t find anything, I’m hoping to change my son’s MDO venue, if I can find a good fit for us. Thanks!

  15. Amanda February 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    My daughter is two and going two days a week to First Kids at First Baptist Richardson. They are fully accredited, have small ratios and teach in the classes. My daughter’s favorite part is that they have music class every day with a music teacher. I did not have to wait on a crazy list or stand in line days before. They have options for one, two or three day a week programs and offered transitional kindergarten, if you child is young when they are slated to enter kinder, or you just prefer not to have them in for full days of school at a young age.

    The school is very affordable, and I have been so pleased with her teachers and small class size. She can get individual attention lavished upon her, while still developing social skills by playing with friends.

    http://www.fbcr.org/preschool/firstkids

  16. Becca February 23, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    We loved the Mother’s Day Out program at Lakeside Baptist Church in east Dallas when we lived over there. It is super affordable, doesn’t have crazy wait lists, and they let you drop in any time. They also have a 1 and 2 day a week option.

  17. Bianca March 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Hi. We are in located in Desoto, Texas and moving soon to Waxahachie. Does anyone have any suggestion for preschools or Mother’s Day Out programs in these areas?

    Thanks

  18. Christina April 8, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Live in Lake Highlands and looking for a 3 day preschool for my 4 yr old. Suggestions for anywhere near Lake Highlands or Dallas?

    • Krystal Hurst April 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      We’ll post this question on our Facebook timeline today to see if anyone can help!

  19. Heather July 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    I am also in Lake Highlands looking for daycare and/MDO in our area for our 7 month old. Thanks.

    • Ray August 27, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

      Did you ever find a place in or around Lake Highlands or White Rock?

      • Zehra February 4, 2015 at 9:07 am #

        Might be too late to respond but we send our 1.5 & 2.5 year old children to CCDC- the child development program at Lake Highlands United Methodist Church. Though it’s considered a Mother’s Day out, it is definitely more like a preschool. Lots of free play everyday and two separated playgrounds for the toddlers and older kids. The kids are also exposed to music classes and arts & craft as well as story time every day. The older children also go to chapel and KidFit. It’s structured but not militant and more than anything there is an incredible amount of love from the staff.

  20. Rosa August 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    I have a almost 4 year old she just started preschool she loves it but she is really afraid of the nap she says she doesn’t like when the lights go off. When it is time to drop her off every morning she cries and screams she doesn’t want to stay i have asked the staff (principal and teacher) if instead she can sit on her mat and look at a book or something the principal said yes but the teacher said she has to take a nap. I have asked my daughter if she reads a book like i asked the staff and she says no the lay her down. Any recommendations on how to make her feel safe at school or anybody know of another preschool around Oak cliff area?

  21. VM January 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    MY SON IS 20 MONTHS AND HE LOVES RUNNING AND PLAYING WITH ANY TYPE OF BALL (SOCCER, FOOTBALL, TENNIS,…). WE WANT TO FIND A PLACE FOR HIM TO GO AND DO THIS 2 OR 3 TIMES A WEEK. HE DOESN’T LIKE MOTHER’S DAY OUT PROGRAMS OR DAY CARE, HE JUST WANTS TO RUN AND KICK A BALL. DOES ANY OF YOU KNOW A PLACE IN THE PLANO AREA WHERE WE CAN DROP HIM OFF FOR 1 OR 2 HOURS, 2 OR 3 TIMES A WEEK TO DO WHAT HE LIKES?
    THANKS

  22. Sara January 5, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

    Hello,

    Do you know of any Reggio inspired (or similar) schools in the dallas area?

    Thank you!

    • Uli February 6, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

      Did you hear back from anyone about Reggio inspired schools? I would also be interested. Thanks!

    • Donna February 4, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

      The Carlisle School on Lovers Lane is the should be considered as a Reggio inspired school.

  23. Maria January 21, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    Can anyone recommend a highly rated preschool for a 4 year old in the Plano/Allen/Frisco area?

  24. Reah January 26, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    Hi

    Please advice a good preschool for a 3 year old in Irving/Coppell area.

    Thanks

  25. NS January 30, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    Hi-

    I’m Looking for a preschool recommendation around the Rockwall area!
    Thanks!

  26. Amber January 30, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    Any suggestions for a two year old in the east dallas area (just south of the 635) that is separate from a church (ie secular)? All the affordable ones seem to be religion-based.

  27. Ann January 30, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    I’m looking for a MDO in the frisco area for a 1yr old. We are new to the area as well. Thanks!

  28. Kendra January 30, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    We have a 3 1/2 year old and a 6 month old and they are both in white rock north .. It is a full week program but I couldn’t be happier. They are very structured and academic and all the staff simply adore my kids and all the kids! Saying the pledge and abc’s before 2, writing her name at 3 we couldn’t be happier! Both started there at 6 months … For working moms who need more than a MDO program we checked around many places and settled here. We now drive further just to keep them there. Super long wait list but that speaks to the quality as well 😉

  29. Dani January 30, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

    My 3 year old is enrolled full time in preschool at Spanish Schoolhouse North Dallas (Hillcrest & Arapaho) right now. I am applying her to Dallas International School (Preston & Churchill) for next year to be in the PreK-4 program and hopefully keep her enrolled through graduation, pending that she likes learning in French as she gets older of course! 🙂

    • Michele February 2, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

      Does anyone have any experience with Spanish House on Skillman Street? We are considering their program for a two hear old.

    • Michele February 2, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

      Dani,

      Have you been happy with Spanish Schoolhouse. Is our daughter fluent? Was it a difficult transition?

  30. Bisma February 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    Hi, we are relocating to Mansfield, TX in August 2015. I am looking for a preschool for my 4 year old son. I will be grateful if you all can suggest few names.

  31. Shannon Markin April 21, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    My family is relocating to Dallas Tx from FLorida in the Fall near Oak Lawn area I think…
    I’m trying to find a preschool that would be highly recommends for a transition into private school for my 3 yr old daughter.

    I am aware I mcht be behind in my search. Any suggestion or personal experience with a great school would be greatly appreciated.
    I’d LOVE it if there was at least a Spanish class included as we are teaching her Spanish as a second language.

    Also, I will be looking for a full time nanny as I’m pregnant with #2 and would also be open to any Suggestions.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I know every mom leads a busy life

    • Donna November 24, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

      You must see The Carlisle School!
      Lovers Lane near Oak Lawn and total immersion Spanish.
      In operation for 40 years.

  32. Robyn June 22, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    My son had some developmental delays but is doing great now. He has been home with me since born and I am seeking a really good preschool in the Garland area that will help prepare him for Kindergarten (he’ 4) and help with structure and social interaction. Thank you for your responses.

  33. Jennifer January 29, 2016 at 6:14 am #

    Hi-

    My family and I are relocating to the Dallas area this summer and looking for recommendations for a play based preschool. My son is an energetic, social 3.5 year old. I was hoping to find a preschool with a large outdoor space, plenty of free exploration time, and opportunities to practice his social skills.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  34. Jenna January 2, 2017 at 1:38 am #

    My family is relocating to the Dallas area and are looking for a play-based preschool. My son is in preschool now in Portland and will be 4 in May. Any suggestions? Thank you!

  35. Shreya March 7, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

    Hi,we are in Plano, TX. I am trying to find a preschool for my 2 year old daughter.Any suggestion or personal experience with a great school would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards .

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