Below is a VERY general summary of historical part-day preschool pricing in the Utah market.
$$$$$ PS-8 (or 12) Private Schools: Challenger, Waterford, Realms of Inquiry, parochial schools, etc.
$$$$ Commercial Day Care Centers: KinderCare, LaPetit, etc.
$$$ Commercial Preschools: Newcastle Preschool, Holladay Preschool, Learning Dynamics, etc.
$$ In-Home Preschools: One every few blocks along the Wasatch Front.
$ Public Sponsored Preschools: Almost every high school, Head Start.
What’s right for your family?
$$$$$: If you have the motivation and the means to put your child in a Utah private school all the way through high school by all
means go to that school’s preschool. If you are like most families and your child will attend a Utah public school from
kindergarten onward, you'll pay way too much if you chose a PS-Grade 8 (or 12) private school, particularly if it is part of the
accelerated learning industry - (See Understand Utah Preschool Economics)
$$$: Commercial preschools are highly specialized businesses that exclusively educate 3-5 year olds. There are just a
handful of them in the Salt Lake Valley. Most of them are storefront operations in shopping zones or churches (Hilltop &
Holladay Preschool, etc.). There are a few in public schools. The rarest of them all are free standing-commercial buildings
(The Newcastle School, Learning Dynamics, etc.). Typically, these preschools have tuition rates below PS-12 private schools
and daycare centers but they are higher than in-home preschools and public supported preschools.
$$: If price is the primary factor influencing your preschool decision, ask around for an in-home preschool. In-home
preschools are typically half to two thirds of the price of commercial preschools. That can be a bit of a gamble because there
are some good ones and a bunch of not-so-good ones. The upside is they are inexpensive. The down side is that preschool
in the basement of a neighborhood home might not optimally prepare your child to negotiate the challenges of Utah’s large
$: At the lowest end of the tuition spectrum are the preschools in Utah high schools. These are dirt cheap because their
teachers are high school boys and girls who are taking a high school child development course. Your child is their introductory
lab work to see if they have the aptitude or attitude to be a teacher someday. One upside: child to teacher ratio is the best here:
one 16 year old usually has just two or three kids. The downside is the academics aren’t top notch.
This site is focused on part-day, academic preschool, not daycare.
Most of the businesses that advertise as preschools in the Salt Lake Yellow Pages are primarily daycare centers. How can you
tell? Call and ask if they care for kids all day and if they charge by the week. If they say “yes” to either, their primary function is
Pricing and the Utah Preschool Marketplace
Utah has huge diversity of preschool options, from small in-home preschools to large corporate school chains. This variety
preschools in Utah.
Key Concept of Preschool Pricing in Utah
|Every preschool is selling you a different sized apple, |
|so each school's monthly tuition rate is never an|
APPLES TO APPLES comparison.
|Some apples are smaller than others, and some aren't |
|apples at all.|
Their 2-3 hour per day tuitions are usually very high compared to commercial and in-home
preschools in Utah.
Unless you are a working mom who requires care for your child while you are at work, don’t
choose a daycare center to prepare your 3-5 year old for Utah’s public schools. It is difficult for an
infant through 12-year-old daycare center in Utah to have a comprehensive academic program
that satisfies choosey Utah moms looking for solid Early Childhood academics.
If price is one of your criteria in selecting a preschool for your child, be diligent in understanding what you are paying for. It’s
not as simple as just comparing monthly tuition rates. Why?
Because every Utah preschool is selling you a different size apple.
The only way to do a fair comparison is to factor the number of actual school days in their school year and then look closely
at their relative daily session times.
Take the total cost for the year (total tuition, reg. fees, materials fees, uniforms, etc.) divided by the total number of days the
children will actually be attending during the school year to get a true daily cost.
How does a business do this? It starts the school year later, ends earlier and takes longer
Christmas or spring breaks than other ten-month schools. Consumers don't know it unless they
count the days on the school's calendar. For perspective, this year another preschool's parents
paid for a 10 month (MWF) school year that consisted of 118 days and a chain-school's parents
paid for a 10 month year that consisted of just 106 days. The chain-school trimmed 12 days or
one full month of MWF classes off its school year.
A “half day” at preschool is not the same at every school. Daily session lengths can vary by as much as an hour. Sessions at some
Utah preschools may be as short as two hours while other school's sessions may be as long as three hours per day. Historic Utah preschool
market session times, including pick-up and drop-off have been three hours long (for example 8:30-8:45 drop-off to 11:15-11:30 pick-up). That
consists of two and a half hours of organized class time with another 30 minutes with the children in transition. Those times are fairly standard in the
Salt Lake preschool market.
The key learning here is that it’s smart to factor in the length of sessions as you are comparing relative pricing among Utah preschools.
Extra Fees & Parent Volunteer Time Requirements:
Be aware of supplemental enrollment fees, deposits, materials fees, snack fees and activities fees. There is a real cost to you if you are required to
provide a class snack or the preschool mandates a required quota of volunteer time from parents.
Example: Children attending preschool in Utah for almost three hours should have a snack built into the day. Almost all Utah preschools provide a
snack. Some don’t. If the school is asking the parents to provide that snack, it’s an incremental cost.
Example: There is a Utah preschool that requires a $200 materials fee, up front in addition to monthly tuition. That huge materials fee is an incremental
cost that equals about a month’s tuition. Spread over a nine month school year, that fee effectively raised their actual tuition rate from $185 per month to
$207 per month.
Uniforms are an incremental consumer cost. Most Utah preschool students will go onto traditional public schools. Most will not wear uniforms to
grade school. Three year olds who attend preschool in Utah should wear everyday play clothes and if they attend a school grounded in Early
Childhood Education principles, they should come home every day with paint on their elbows and glue in their hair.
The key learning here is that it’s essential to review any prospective Utah preschool's annual calendar so you can compare apples to apples with other
preschools. If you are paying for ten months and you are only getting nine months of service, you are not getting full value for your dollar.
School Year Shrinkage:
Several years ago a chain-school adopted a pricing strategy that involves shrinking a ten month school year by trimming the days children actually
attend while still charging parents for 10 full months.
In other words, parents pay 10 equal installments and get just 9 months of preschool classes.
Most mom's don't notice. Below are several real examples of Salt Lake preschool pricing scenarios you should look at as you compare Utah schools.
Understand Utah Preschool Economics
How do you think the parents liked them apples? Well, actually, they didn't notice.