Preschooling should not be this stressful

Pre-kindergarten students learning how to read in 2012.
Pre-kindergarten students learning how to read in 2012. Photo Credit: Getty Images

New York has an early-education problem. All over the city, parents are jumping through hoops to ensure their children not only attend a good preschool, but one at all.

There are more children than available spots, so the competition is fierce, even for preschools that are not well regarded. Unfortunately, in some low-income areas in particular, the options are few. The preschools in my neighborhood, for instance, aren’t that great. Those that are, have few spots and an avalanche of applicants.

So, how to compete for a good preschool? With solid applications, great interviews and high-scoring exams. Short of that, there are consultants who — for a fee — guide parents through the admissions process. For preschool.

My daughter is 3 and my husband and I should be deciding on a preschool now, but we’re not. We’re not sending her to preschool.

Homeschooling is something that I always considered, and seeing the stress on some of my daughter’s friends sealed the deal for me. If the only way we can get her into a quality preschool is to stress her out, I’ll do the teaching myself.

I began to have some doubts about our decision after I attended an event at a local private preschool. I was very impressed. It was the first preschool I actually pictured my daughter attending. The first place I thought might be worth a bit of hoop-jumping. That is, until I found out that the tuition was in the $40,000-a-year range. For preschool. I know private preschools are expensive but I wasn’t expecting to pay more for it than I did for college.

Regardless of our decision, public universal pre-K should be funded for parents who believe that’s the best option for their children. I don’t really care how it’s done — taxing the rich (Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan), state funding (Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal) or robbing a string of banks in New Jersey (just my idea) — the city needs to fund enough spots so that all children can get a quality education early. Studies have shown the importance of early development and its impact on academics.

Parents shouldn’t have to mortgage their lives to give their kids quality preschool. Something as basic and necessary as pre-k shouldn’t be something kids or parents have to stress about.

Rachel Figueroa-Levin tweets as @Jewyorican and @ElBloombito.