Numerous studies have shown that childcare costs can rival those of attending college in many areas of the United States. Federal law defines "affordable" care as no more than 7 percent of annual household income, and child care ran more than this in every state in a 2018 review. Paying someone to simply care for your child – especially in a school-type environment – can be almost prohibitively expensive. It can help to have an idea of what those nursery school costs are before you commit.
What Is Nursery School?
You might catch a bit of a break if you're looking for care for your toddler. The ages of children who attend these types of facilities generally span from two-and-a-half years up to age four. It's not infant care, which can cost considerably more.
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Choosing a Nursery School
Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital recommends performing background checks on all teachers and staff at a school. Look into teacher credentials and teacher experience if the "school" aspect is what's important to you – you're not just looking for child care. Determine the student-to-teacher ratio. What about any specialized enrichment programs that are offered? What's their philosophy for parent communication? Will staff report to you regularly, or will your requests for information be considered an annoyance?
You'll want to look into vaccination requirements in this day and age as well, not just for COVID but all the usual child must-haves. Make sure your kids are up-to-date.
What Contributes to the High Cost?
You've left the infancy years behind if you're looking for a preschool, and that's a good thing when it comes to cost. The Center for American Progress indicates that infant care costs 61 percent more than care for older children. Toddler care can be pricey too, however, which is effectively what you're paying for with nursery school.
It will obviously cost you more if you want to send your child to school all week or for just a few days, and depending on how many hours a day they'll spend there. Perks such as after-hours care, before-hours care, extended-day care and holiday hours will certainly cost you more as well.
Don't hesitate to ask for discounts or other courtesies if your child will be attending on a full-time basis. The provider might be willing to waive registration or supply fees (yes, these can be tacked on to "tuition") in exchange for a long-term or full-time commitment.
Consider also: What Does it Cost – First Child
The Cost of Nursery School
Location plays a big part in any child care program's cost because it affects the cost of living. Preschool tuition averages $10,178 annually in New Jersey for the 2021-22 school year, and it can go as high as $42,000 a year. A Care.com survey showed that 85 percent of parents are devoting more than 10 percent of their household incomes to child care in 2021. The national average for toddler care ran about $340 a week in 2020.
Possible Child Care Alternatives
Care.com's study indicated that a good many parents are bypassing nursery school and hiring an in-home nanny instead, and this option can offer few advantages. You won't have to worry about a student-to-teacher ratio, although finding a nanny with a background in education might be challenging. But this is nursery school, not high school for a potential Rhodes scholar. A good nanny should be able to handle many aspects of a nursery school curriculum, from arts and crafts to mastering the potty each and every time nature calls.
The quality of care you receive from a nanny might be superior to that provided in a nursery school. And you might consider a hybrid approach, such as a family-run, in-home nursery school arrangement rather than a commercial facility. The Center for American Progress indicates that you might save upward of $400 a month if you choose this option.
- Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital: 10 Must-Ask Questions and Tips on Choosing a Preschool
- Center for American Progress: The True Cost of High-Quality Child Care Across the United States
- Private School Review: New Jersey Private Preschools by Tuition Cost
- Care.com: This Is How Much Childcare Costs in 2021
- Center for American Progress: Understanding the True Cost of Child Care for Infants and Toddlers
- Westminster Nursery School: Welcome to Westminster Nursery School