Preschool Decisions: What You Need to Think About 

From in-home providers to Denver Public Schools and from schedules to location, there are many different factors to consider when choosing a preschool in the Mile High City. As you dive into finding a preschool for your young learner, you should think about what’s best for your child and your family. But how do you choose a school that’s right for you? The process can be overwhelming and, at times, confusing. 

Here are some important factors you should consider when researching, finding, and enrolling in a Denver preschool that’s right for your child and your family. 

  1. Define what’s important to you. When you think about your child’s preschool experience, what’s most important: personalized curriculum, outdoor play areas, location to your work or home, hours offered in the day, etc. There’s much to consider, and there’s no right answer. You might value certain factors more than others. Prioritizing will help you narrow down your options. Here are a few things to consider:
    1. Teaching philosophy/curriculum: Montessori, Reggio, play-based learning, etc. 
    2. Types of preschool settings: school-district based, in-home providers, preschool centers. Learn more about the types of preschools
    3. Class size and teacher/student ratios. 
    4. Extracurricular activities: what’s available, what’s part of the curriculum, etc. 
    5. Location: proximity to home or workplace. 
    6. Familiarity: friends or family who attend, experience at the school, etc.
    7. Schedule: full-time, part-time, extended hours. 
  2. Keep it simple. Denver Preschool Program has distilled down the preschool process into 6 steps for residents in Denver. Use our Find a Preschool tool, visit preschools, and follow the steps to enroll. Sticking to a simple process will make the process much easier. 
  3. Research and ask. Do your homework and research potential preschools online. Ask your neighbors, family, friends, and colleagues about their recommendations. Check out Colorado Shines ratings for schools you are interested in. The Colorado Department of Early Childhood uses the Colorado Shines process to license and monitor preschool providers in Colorado. 
  4. Visit programs and use a checklist. DPP has created this checklist to help you choose a preschool program that’s right for your child. It’s a great tool to print off and take with you on school visits.  
  5. Determine what types of funding you might want to apply for.  

UPK Colorado is a free, voluntary program that covers at least 15 hours a week for every child in Colorado the year before they are eligible for kindergarten. Many preschool programs in Denver participate in UPK Colorado but not all. If you wish to participate, you will need to apply for UPK Colorado first by ranking your top choices in preschools. Once matched with a preschool, should you choose to accept that match, then you can enroll in the preschool program. 

DPP offers preschool tuition credits to all 4-year-olds in the City and County of Denver, regardless of neighborhood, income, or immigration status. Families should enroll with the preschool first and then apply for DPP tuition credits. Use this tool to find preschool providers that participate in DPP.

Families can participate in both UPK Colorado and DPP tuition support. Those families should apply for UPK Colorado, enroll in the preschool program once matched, and then apply for DPP tuition credits. 

  1. Pay attention to waitlists and deadlines. You may opt to be placed on a waitlist for a top provider or enroll at a provider who has an immediate opening. It’s important to pay attention to important dates and deadlines to ensure your child is enrolled in the preschool program you choose. 

Prepare for a smooth transition. Preschool can be a big adjustment for everyone in your household. Use this great guide from PBS about how to prepare for the first day of preschool. The biggest keys to setting up a smooth transition are to talk about it, familiarize your child and yourself with the school (visits and events like back-to-school night are great for this), and establish a routine so everyone knows what to expect. In addition, these are some skills you can work on with your little one to help them gain confidence for preschool.