I don't know if people have this problem outside of Berkeley, but the preschools here are either really expensive, have hardly any structure (not much different from a daycare), or both. And the waitlists for the expensive ones are really long. Some people recommend signing up your child while s/he is in utero. I'm even thinking of starting my own neighborhood pre-school co-op. I can do just about everything the expensive schools offer. Teach music, art, science, letter recognition and writing...but I don't have chickens in the backyard for egg collection (yes, one school has chickens!). But then, maybe I might be willing to pay someone to do what I can do just so I can have some time to myself. Because really, do I want to take care of four or five little children besides my own? Elementary school-age, no problem. But preschool age is a whole different ballgame.
Maylin went to public preschool in France, and boy, was that easy. It was easy because we didn't have a choice. You were assigned a school in your neighborhood, assigned a teacher...the only choice I had to make was whether or not she would get a school lunch. Plus, the quality of preschool education there is excellent. By American standards, it would be considered too structured, but it was just perfect for Maylin who was ready for it. Kids are never too young to learn some discipline and be orderly. Of course, give kids time to play and explore, but let them learn how to sit quietly in a seat and work, if only for a few minutes. They have the capacity to learn! The transition to kindergarten will be so much easier, especially for boys who tend to be the ones who can't sit still.