There are businesses that dedicate their services to minding and teaching youngsters. As we are not yet ready for elementary school yet want a degree of academia, parents look to preschool.
These places mix play, social development, and academics. That is where their similarities end. There are faith based, secular, public, private, and cooperative. There are play based, Montessori, and Waldorf. Some are part-time, some full-time. Some cost as much as $9,000 per year, while others run about $3,000 per year. Some have waiting lists for everyone, some are first-come, first served, while others favor legacy. Some require interviews with the family, and others also want to interview the child. Some require the child to be potty trained, while others will change diapers.
Research into my options has just begun. One website came back with 833 options, thirty of which are within one mile of our house. Half of those are Catholic (we are Jewish). I will probably expand the range to two miles, which means about thirty possibilities. Some friends have experience and can lend a hand. At the very least, they can tell us about their preschool. They may have heard horror stories about others. It is easier to take things off the list. If there isn't a horror story, then it's got a chance.
We hope to begin some level of preschool at about eighteen months. (That's one-and-a-half for you non-parents out there.) Therefore, we have six months to be enrolled, which really means about a month or so to visit, apply, and go through the other hoops. Did I mention some schools have application fees as much as $300? Yikes.