Where to find free preschool “near me” and online

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Numerous studies show the positive impact preschool can have on a child’s future success. A study conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education found that quality early education: 

  • Reduces special education placement and grade repetition
  • Increases graduation rates

The researchers concluded that the social-emotional skills developed in preschool support a child’s ability to engage in learning, manage behaviors, and get along with others.

However, less than half of 3- and 4-year-olds in the U.S. are enrolled in a public or private preschool, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

Although pricing varies by state, the Center for American Progress reports the average cost for licensed, center-based preschool is $889 per month, or $10,668 a year. That’s more than half a year’s income for a two-person household at the federal poverty level ($18,310). For millions of low-income families, it’s just not feasible, financially. 

Thankfully, President Biden’s $1.8 trillion federal American Families Plan includes free, universal preschool for children ages 3 and 4, though the measure will be implemented over a 10-year period.

If you need help finding low-income preschool programs in person and online right now, you can start by searching for “free preschool near me” or by dialing 211 to inquire about programs in your area.

Here are more resources for free and low-cost preschool:

Free preschool: Bezos Academy

Founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Bezos Academy is a tuition-free, full-day preschool with locations in Florida, Texas, and Washington. 

The program uses Montessori principles: giving children work choices, keeping a consistent learning environment, and focusing a child’s interests and movement to support learning.

This free preschool operates five days a week, year-round and accepts children ages 3 to 5 years old. Eligibility is based on a household income that is up to 400% of the federal poverty level, which is currently $23,030 for a household of three. . 

Eligible students are admitted through a random lottery. To get on the waitlist for the 2022-23 school year lottery, you can create a free account.

Free preschool: Early Head Start

Early Head Start is a free, federal preschool program that serves pregnant women and children under 3 years old. The program encourages parents to get involved in their children’s early education and is run by local nonprofits, community-centered agencies, and school districts. 

Early Head Start promotes healthy living, learning, andsafe play, and provides nutritious meals and snacks to children whose family income is at or below the federal poverty level. Children also qualify if: 

  • Their families receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits
  • They are enrolled in foster care
  • Are experiencing homelessness

Find an Early Head Start center in your community to begin the application process. 

Free preschool: Head Start

Head Start is a free preschool program that supports the education and well-being of children from low-income families that are between 3 and 5 years old. Head Start uses the same eligibility criteria as Early Head Start.

If your income level exceeds the FPL, your child may still be eligible at some Head Start locations. To start the process, use the Head Start online locator to find your local program.

Free preschool: Pre-Elementary or Voluntary Prekindergarten programs “near me”

To find free preschool programs and free or discounted child care resources in your state, childcare.gov is a trusted resource. You can also search by zip code on freepreschools.org, a nationwide directory of free preschools and pre-kindergarten programs.

The following states offer free or low-income preschool or Head Start programs:

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Online preschool

Are you looking for online preschool programs or curricula? Many of these options require tuition or a fee to access materials.

If you are homeschooling, live in a rural area, or aren’t comfortable placing your child in an in-person pre-kindergarten program, here are some virtual options: 

Creative Kids Virtual Preschool

Creative Kids Virtual Preschool was started by preschool teacher Denise Shields. Shields had an in-person preschool, but COVID-19 inspired her to move to online teaching. Now, she offers 40 full-length lessons and 35 learning videos for free. Paid lessons are also available for $57 for full-year access. This resource is ideal for homeschooled children.

Growing Brilliant Online Preschool

Growing Brilliant offers in-person and online instructor-led preschool programs for children ages 2 to 6. There are in-person schools in Folsom, Granite Bay, Sacramento, and Roseville, Calif. 

The online class covers 60+ subjects via video conferencing. Pricing is based on how many days of instruction you prefer:

  • $34 per week for two days of online preschool
  • $49 per week for three days
  • $74 per week for five days

Each online class is 45 minutes long, and you can choose your preferred class times. You’ll receive a curriculum box in the mail with supplies for each lesson. There is a one-time materials fee of $35. This is great for homeschooled children and children enrolled in cyber education. 

HOMER

Homer is an early-learning program for ages 2 to 6 that claims to boost early reading and math performance. Programs for arts, crafts, problem-solving and emotional and social skills are included.

Get your free 30-day trial with Homer now >>

Learn and Play Montessori School

San Francisco Bay Area Learn and Play Montessori School offers paid in-person and virtual preschool. Using the Montessori curriculum, this preschool delivers remote learning via Zoom to children 3 to 6 years old. Remote learning tuition is $545 per month, with an enrollment fee of $50. 

Mighty Kids Preschool

Mighty Kids Virtual Academy is an online preschool that uses an assessment to gauge your child’s learning level and responds with tailored videos to encourage learning. The preschool also offers live Zoom sessions and covers math, language, reading, writing, social/emotional, art, and STEM lessons. 

Teachers are degreed in early childhood education or a similar field. Plus, you gain access to a private Facebook group to interact with other parents. Plans start at $35 a month with a 14-day risk-free trial.

Miss Humblebee’s Online Preschool

Miss Humblebee’s Academy is an award-winning online resource for parents who want to teach their children at home. It offers a fun and educational curriculum that encourages children between the ages of 3 and 6 to learn at their own pace.

There are printable resources as low as $0.10, and you can access lessons on the computer or via compatible tablets or smartphones. Get started for as low as $7.95 per month and get one week free when you register.

Palo Alto Academy Bilingual Montessori

Palo Alto Academy Bilingual Montessori offers online preschool and kindergarten for children ages 2 to 6. Online plans start at $250 per month and include online and in-person classes at its Los Altos and Palo Alto, Calif., locations. Classes are taught in English and Chinese (Mandarin). 

This school offers live classes and options for recorded sessions five days a week. Topics include math, Chinese, language, science, practical life, geography, art and culture, and music and movement. For more information, contact the school.

FAQs about free preschool

Is pre-K free in the U.S.?

While pre-K is not currently universally free in the U.S., there are free preschool options in each state. Most free programs have income requirements to determine eligibility. For example, if a program requires an income that is up to 200% of the federal poverty level, it means twice the FPL for the number of people in your household.

Early Head Start and Head Start are needs-based programs and require participants to meet certain household income or other eligibility requirements. The Biden Administration’s American Families Plan calls for a phased rollout over 10 years of free, universal preschool for children ages 3 and 4.

What age can you get free preschool?

Age requirements for free preschool programs vary by organization. Qualifying children between 3 and 5 years old may be eligible for free preschool from Head Start.

How will Biden’s free preschool work?

Biden’s American Families Plan will partner with states to provide free, universal preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds across the country. Priority will go to underserved communities, with a focus on quality education, small class sizes and relevant curricula delivered in inclusive and supportive classrooms. The rollout is part of a 10-year implementation plan.

In terms of child care help, President Biden’s American Families Plan will provide:

  • Financial assistance to low- and middle-income families to ensure no more than 7% of income is used to pay for child care
  • Better access to high-quality child care
  • Tax cuts for low- to middle-income families with children

This plan, when fully implemented, promises to save qualifying households up to $13,000 in child care costs. 

Other resources and help for single moms:

Free laptops$500 monthly single mom grant
Free clothesScholarships for single moms
Free carFree Christmas gifts
Free smartphoneGovernment assistance for single moms
Free wifiFree and low-cost prescriptions
Free formulaFree diapers
Free gasFree toys
Free daycareAffordable dentures
Free prescription glassesFree money
10+ charities that help single mothersTutoring and homework help
Free or low-cost after school programsHealth insurance
Is pre-K free in the U.S.?

While pre-K is not currently universally free in the U.S., there are free preschool options in each state. Most free programs have income requirements to determine eligibility.

What age can you get free preschool?

Age requirements for free preschool programs vary by organization. Qualifying children between 3 and 5 years old may be eligible for free preschool from Head Start.

How will Biden’s free preschool work?

Biden’s American Families Plan will partner with states to provide free, universal preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds across the country. Priority will go to underserved communities, with a focus on quality education, small class sizes and relevant curricula delivered in inclusive and supportive classrooms. The rollout is part of a 10-year implementation plan.

Robyn Evans is an award-winning writer, inspirational author, and occasional songstress (especially in the shower). Born and raised in Baltimore, she focused on helping women make healthy choices for body, mind and soul. She’s a grateful bonus mom to a photographer son and activist daughter and works with young writers through a nonprofit organization. Robyn writes for corporate clients, is a former feature writer for The Carroll County Times, has written for The Baltimore Sun and is the author of three books. Learn more about Robyn here.

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