How to Choose the Best Preschool

how to choose the best preschool in the quad cities

Looking for the Top Recommended Preschools in the Quad Cities?

Do you have preschool aged kids or will have soon? Davenport, Moline, Bettendorf, and Rock Island and the surrounding areas have so many top-notch preschools it’s hard to know where to begin when it’s time to make the decision of where to send your child to preschool.

There is no one “best” preschool in the Quad City area — or anywhere for that matter. Not every school is right for every child. You have a lot of factors to consider when choosing the perfect preschool for your child.

We at QC Moms know that you all agonize over this decision and that this is a well researched choice. When you place your child in the hands of carers, teachers, and staff at a preschool, you want to put him or her in the best possible hands. We hope to help you make this decision easier.

Some priorities to consider when choosing a preschool:

  • Knowing where to start can go a long way in making a child care decision. And that’s what we’re here for. The following steps will help you break down the process and provide a clear path for finding the perfect provider for your little one – and for you.

Start Earlier Rather Than Later in Your Research

  • Do you want to start your child at a Mother’s Day Out program when she is two, and then transition into three year old preschool at the same location? Do you need full time child care or is this preschool option supplementary to your own child care? Do you want to keep your child at the same institution once they start kindergarten? It’s never too early to start thinking about your preferences.


  • You probably have many things to consider when determining how many hours of preschool are best. You may have to choose the school based solely on your work schedule. Yet it is possible in a two working parent home to arrange alternative childcare or hours so that a child may only spend a few hours in care outside the home. A stay-at-home parent may opt to enroll a child in a preschool program for many reasons.


While obviously cost is not the only factor, it is a significant one. Some things to consider:

    • Sliding Fee Scales – some providers set child care costs according to a family’s income, with reduced rates for lower-income families.
    • Payment Plans – a payment plan allows you to pay in slightly more creative ways that will help you manage your monthly budget. This might mean larger, but less frequent, installments, or smaller, more frequent payments.
    • Local Assistance or Scholarships – sometimes local non-profit organizations will provide need-based assistance or centers themselves may offer scholarships programs.
    • Sibling Discounts – most licensed childcare centers offer reduced rates when more than one child from the same family attends their program.
    • Military Discounts – for many childcare centers and providers, military service matters. If you or your partner serve, or have served, in the military, ask about discounts.



        • Iowa has three types of child care; licensed centers, registered child development home providers and child care home providers that are not registered.

Licensed Centers – These are businesses that typically care for dozens of children. Centers are required to follow a long list of requirements and they receive at least one unannounced monitoring visit annually from DHS consultants.

Child Development Homes –Any person providing child care in their home can apply to be registered.  Those serving more than 5 children are required to register.

Child Care Homes – People who provide childcare in their own homes and who care for five or fewer children are not required to be registered but have the option to do so.  

There are a variety of legal child care arrangements available in Illinois to meet the diverse needs of families. These include care arrangements in homes or center-based programs, licensed or licensed-exempt care, and care for the wide range of hours parents and caregivers work and attend school. 

  • The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is the agency responsible for licensing Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes in Illinois.

Licensed: A license means that the provider has met the State of Illinois standards for care in areas such as teacher to child ratio, educational qualifications, safety standards, capacity, and nutritional requirements.

Licensed-Exempt: A center or home may be exempt from licensing because of characteristics such as school-age only services, number of children in care, and school or religious affiliation. Some Illinois options include

Licensed Child Care Centers

Licensed Family Child Care Homes

Licensed Group Family Child Care Homes

Licensed-Exempt Centers

Licensed-Exempt Family Child Care

Ratios and supervision

  • Most states require at least 1 teacher for every 10 children. What is the ratio that your short listed options have?

Teacher Training

  • Education and training requirements vary depending upon the type of preschool. In childcare centers, preschool teachers are generally required to have at least a high school diploma and certification in early childhood education. Some require an Associate’s Degree.

Safety and Health

  • Every parent wants to leave the preschool drop off knowing that their child is safe. It is every parent’s worse nightmare to get the dreaded phone call telling them their child was just hurt. When you visit the school, look for how the teachers enforce the rules, the room arrangement and how well the children are supervised.

General Philosophy

  • Do you see eye to eye on child raring techniques? Perhaps you use a cozy corner instead of time out for disciplinary tool. It’s important to know where the school you opt for stands on these big questions.


  • The scientific research is clear, preschoolers need lots of free play and outdoor activity. The preschool you choose should emphasize social skill acquisition, free play, playing in nature, and creativity. The schedule the school follows should follow the children’s natural rhythm with alternating periods of activity and rest.

If these options don’t work for your needs, you might also consider doing preschool at home!

The good news is that finding the perfect place for your baby to learn, grow and develop doesn’t have to be an impossible task. With careful thought and planning – and most importantly, a clear understanding of your specific needs and environmental requirements – it’s easier than you might think to narrow down the options and land in just the right place.

..places to take younger kids to play in collin county


How to Find The Preschools the Quad Cities Offers

Fortunately, the Quad Cities area does offer a wide range of preschool and child care services – from churches, to nannies, to highly reputable and accredited early childhood education centers. So where to begin? Start by seeking recommendations from friends and family. Find out what providers they suggest and talk to other parents who use, or have used, the same providers.

But don’t worry if you are new to the area or don’t have an extensive network of mom and dad friends to ask. There are also a number of highly reputable websites, both local and national, that can match your preferences and needs to local providers.

Quad Cities Moms Connecting Groups on Facebook are a great way to get recommendations from moms in the area who are speaking from experience. We are constantly working to improve your mom lifestyle with our blog posts and guides. This Preschool Guide is just the first in many local guides to come. – The goal of is to connect caregivers and the families that need them. You can personalize your search your family’s super specific needs. is best for finding home-based care, but remember, while they provide initial, preliminary background and criminal database checks, doing your own follow-up research is highly recommended.

NAEYC for Families – The National Association for the Education of Young Children provides national accreditation for childcare centers. Their comprehensive approval process means that their accredited facilities are backed by high standards. Visit their site to find local NAEYC providers, as well as other resources for families.

Child Care Aware – Visit them online or call their resource hotline (800-424-2246) to learn more about local licensed providers. You can search for providers online or ask for lists of accredited centers in your area.

NAFCC – The National Association of Family Child Care provides nationally recognized accreditation for child care providers. Check out their database of accredited centers if that is an important factor for you.

Even with all the steps broken down, it may seem like a lot of information to process. To get you started, take a look at a few of the Quad City area childcare providers that continuously rank high among parents and professionals alike. We’ve included the Quad Cities top rated preschools, which are and recommended by QC moms just like you.

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