There are dozens of preschools in the Tucson metro area.
In general, “preschool” in Arizona refers to any program for young children who are not yet eligible for elementary school.
According to Arizona Education Code, “a child is eligible for admission to kindergarten if the child is five years of age. A child is deemed five years of age if the child reached the age of five before September 1 of the current school year. The governing board may admit children who have not reached the required age as prescribed by this subsection if it is determined to be in the best interest of the children. Such children must reach the required age of five for kindergarten…by January 1 of the current school year.”
Most preschools offer programs for ages 2, 3, 4, and 5. Occasionally, preschools will offer infant and toddler care as well.
In Arizona, “preschool” is the most common term that is used for schooling prior to elementary school. Other terms that may be used include: early childhood education (ECE), nursery school, or PreK (pre-kindergarten).
DIFFERENT KINDS OF PRESCHOOLS
Although there are many preschools, there are a number of different focuses that you will be able to choose from.
Some preschools are half-day, whereas others are full-day. Some are play-based; others are more academic. Some are five days per week; others offer 1, 2, 3, or 4 days per week as an option.
If you have a particular type of preschool in mind, rest assured that there a variety of options in Tucson – bilingual preschools, Montessori preschools, Waldorf preschools, Christian preschools, preschools for children with learning disabilities, preschools for gifted children, and more.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are there any preschools in Tucson that are free?
The state of Arizona does not currently offer free preschool. That being said, some public school districts do offer free or very low-cost preschools – especially for students with disabilities and/or students who meet low-income requirements.
A good starting point if you are in need of free or low-cost preschool in Tucson is the Arizona Head Start Association.
Do tax credits apply to preschool?
Only preschoolers with disabilities are eligible for the Arizona Tax Credit program.
Can ESA be used for preschool?
ESA stands for Empowerment Scholarship Account. It is a program that is administered by the Arizona Department of Education.
In essence, parents can choose to opt their child out of the public school system and instead receive funds to enroll their child in a private school or to homeschool.
There are very specific eligibility guidelines for this program. Your child may qualify if he/she falls in one or more of the below categories:
- Preschool student with a disability
- K-12 student with a disability
- student with a parent who is active duty military
- student with a parent who was killed in the line of duty
- student with a parent who is legally blind, deaf, or hard of hearing
- student attends a D or F rated school
- student resides within a Native American reservation
- student is a sibling of a current or previous recipient
- student was a ward of the court
- student was a previous ESA recipient
There are application dates each quarter. If your child is approved for the ESA program, you may be able to use the funds for preschool type programs (specific guidelines apply).
What is the average cost of preschool in Tucson?
At most preschools in Tucson, the tuition rate ranges between $150-$900/month or $1800-$10,800/year. The average cost probably hovers at around $450/month or $5400/year – but tuition rates vary greatly depending on facilities, class size, special programs, included meals, etc.
If the cost is prohibitive for your family, you may want to inquire about scholarships and/or financial aid at the preschools you are interested in.
What questions should I ask on a preschool tour?
In order to find a program that is safe for your child and that is a strong fit for your family, it is important to ask good questions at any tours or information meetings.
Here are ten questions you may want to ask prospective preschools:
- Do you offer a play-based or academic curriculum? If academics are part of the curriculum, what skills do you teach at each age level?
- During a typical day, what percentage of the day will my child be outside?
- What percentage of the day is structured versus “free play”?
- What teacher credentials do you require? Bachelor’s degree? Certification? CPR/First Aid?
- Have all teachers been background-checked? Does the screening process apply to all employees (janitors, lunchroom staff, security personnel, bus drivers, etc.)?
- How are students supervised during visits to the restroom?
- How much “screen time” (movies, apps, games, etc) is part of the day, if any?
- How is discipline handled?
- What is the average class size and student/teacher ratio?
- What makes this preschool special?
What is the best preschool in Tucson?
Great question! With dozens of preschools in Tucson, it’s hard to pinpoint just one. Each preschool has a unique community, curriculum, and focus.
The best way to find a preschool in Tucson is to ask friends and family members for recommendations. You can also check yelp and google reviews.
PRESCHOOL SPOTLIGHT: Desert Christian Schools
Desert Christian Schools provides “a play-based, child-focused, Christ-Centered preschool program.” The primary focus of Desert Christian Preschool is to grow to know, love, and follow Jesus while developing an academic foundation for the years ahead. Desert Christian preschool welcomes children 3-5 years old. Programs offered include a traditional morning program and a bi-lingual full-day program with aftercare available. For more information, please visit Desert Christian’s website.
***Watch this page for new and updated information about preschools in Tucson.