Kickstart your search process with some of the top-rated preschools in Austin
When it comes to our kids, sometimes it takes a village -- and today, we hope to become a part of yours. Our team of parents read through 4,317 preschool reviews, so that you don’t have to.
With over 500 early education providers in the Austin area, it’s sometimes hard to figure out which one is the best preschool for your child. And, there’s no one-size-fits-all list that works for everyone.
As parents ourselves, we know that reviews matter. It just stinks that reviews are scattered across so many different places. Who has the time for all that? So, we wanted to help.
As we read through thousands of reviews together, one core thing stood out: there are so many amazing preschools, teachers, and staff in Austin that genuinely care. They go above and beyond to provide children with high-quality preparation for elementary school -- and life in general. So many of these reviews just melted our hearts.
Consider this guide a starting point. We couldn’t feature every top preschool in and around Austin, but below are some of the most highly-rated preschools based on parent reviews across the web.
If you have any questions before you dive into specific schools, check out our Common Preschool Questions section below. There are so many things we didn’t know when it was our first time searching for preschools -- things like “what sort of licenses should I look for?” and “what’s the actual difference between preschool and pre-kindergarten?” We answer these and many other questions later in our guide.
Ok, let’s do this!
“Thoughtful” was the key word across many parent reviews for Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy in North Austin. From the moment you drop off your child, parents describe a level of thoughtfulness that leaves an impression. So many parents write about how well every staff member knows each individual child. Worried about your kid during the day? There are live-stream cameras you can check anytime on your phone. Wondering if your child will be hungry? There’s an on-site chef. Hoping your little one will become just as thoughtful? There’s even an etiquette class for that.
Kids 'R' Kids Learning Academy (KRK) is an NAEYC accredited preschool serving North Austin and Avery Ranch. Open from 6:30am to 6:30pm, KRK has programming for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old. STEAM-based activities are a core part of their G.Y.M curriculum (“Growing Young Minds”). And, extracurricular activities like soccer, gymnastics, and yoga are included for free.
Many parents have a hard time getting their kids to go to school. Throughout the Austin reviews we read, we kept seeing how many parents at A+ Kids Playschool mentioned that their kids just “don’t want to leave.” And, many of the kids asked their parents to come back on the weekends. To school! If that’s not a measure of success, we don’t know what is. Ms. Mita is clearly doing something right. Many parents loved how A+ felt like home, but also had a good structure and a solid curriculum to prepare their children for kindergarten.
With over 15 years of experience serving students and families, A+ Kids Playschool is a licensed in-home child care center, offering a full-time preschool program. The curriculum lessons offer structured activities that help your little one develop critical thinking, social-emotional, and sensory skills. Preschool is open to children ages 3 to 5, and runs from 7:00am to 5:30pm. And, your morning routine just got easier, because tuition includes all meals and snacks.
We haven’t read so many parent reviews that say their school feels “like family” -- until we got to Little Hands International Preschool. And not a dysfunctional family over Thanksgiving, but a truly loving and compassionate one. From the moment parents were greeted for their first tour to their children’s last day, parents across the board say how welcoming, warm, and inviting everyone has been. Both parents and children have felt such “GENUINE warmth,” as one parent put it. Sometimes, you get to choose your family. And so many parents were happy they chose Little Hands to be a part of theirs.
Little Hands has a preschool program for 3 and 4 year olds that focuses on inquiry-based learning and collaborative play. There is also a pre-kindergarten classroom for 4 and 5 year olds that includes instruction for kindergarten and academic readiness. Little Hands teachers use the Creative Curriculum by Teaching Strategies, which is “research-based and supports the development of the whole child.” Each teacher completes 24+ hours of professional development training each year. There are Chinese and Spanish language lessons, and there’s even one acre of space for your child to safely explore and play.
“LOVE!!” That’s the one word parents used most often in their reviews for Rising Stars Preschool (yes, in all caps, and with lots of exclamation points). Parents and their kids “LOVE” everything from the curriculum and teachers to the cleanliness and flexible schedules. And of course, the special touches: fun fire truck visits and pizza parties, anyone? Yes, please.
In the Cedar Park suburb of Austin, Rising Stars was launched over 10 years ago by two stay-at-home moms who wanted to create an environment that focuses on school-readiness and allows kids time to develop positive social interactions. Rising Stars offers both full-time (7:00am to 6:00pm) and part-time programs (9:00am to 3pm). Their preschool program for children ages 3 to 5 has a student-teacher ratio of 8:1. Today, all of their lead instructors hold college degrees, and their preschool curriculum “emphasizes writing, pre-reading, math, science, history, geography, and health and safety.”
In many reviews for Copernicus STEM Academy, parents highlight just how genuinely excited their children are to go to school each morning. With so many creative and imaginative activities each day, who wouldn’t be excited? Here are just a few examples of lessons that get kids running out of bed: visits from the Humane Society, pasta demos with a chef, learning safety with an EMS, chemistry experiments, gardening, catapult building, testing electronic circuits, and making reclaimed art. Maybe one activity will be building us a time machine, so that we can be kids again and come along for these fun days.
From a very young age, children at Copernicus will learn to become innovators and creative problem solvers. Through STEM-based activities, arts & literacy lessons, and a dual language immersion program (English and Spanish), your child will be well-rounded and prepared to take on any challenge. The Copernicus framework “incorporates a scientific approach to learning while the child is playing.” Copernicus offers full-time (5 days per week) or part-time (2-3 days per week) enrollment options.
At My Time Kids Academy, parents have said in their reviews just how “personal” the education experience is for each child because of the impressively low student-teacher ratios. The small classroom sizes are consistently a feature of so many reviews -- parents appreciate how that enables teachers to really get to know each student on a personal level. Many parents have posted how wonderful the relationships have become between their kids and the teachers.
My Time is owned by a local Austin mom, and is a licensed preschool for children ages 2.5 to 6 years old. Their curriculum offers integrated activities across math, science, social studies and language arts. There are even enrichment classes that are covered in the tuition -- things like STEM discovery lab, cooking, music and gymnastics. There’s an indoor gym and an outdoor play area with fun playhouses and activity zones. And, the student-teacher ratio is 5:1.
“Consistent” was a key word in many parent reviews for First English Lutheran Child Development Center. And they are consistently consistent in many areas. A big factor is the very low turnover rate; many parents highlighted just how impactful it was to have a consistent set of teachers and familiar faces, and how that gave them peace of mind. Parents also noted just how consistent the communication was. They loved getting daily pictures and updates, weekly lessons for the week ahead, and fast communication back from the staff.
The Center offers full-day programming year-round and is open from 7:15am to 6pm. The “Rainbows” classroom is for 3-year-olds and has an emergent curriculum focused on hands-on learning. The “Explorers” classroom is for your 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds. Both classrooms have a student-teacher ratio of 16:2. Two things that really stand out are the food and the outdoor learning environment. At breakfast, lunch and snack time, Chef Jennifer makes sure your little ones are eating real, non-processed foods (check out the sample menu -- amazing). And, the shaded on-site outdoor play space is a gem that your child will use at least twice a day.
Canyon Creek Preschool’s parent reviews overwhelmingly talk about how “nurturing” the teachers and staff have been to their children. Parents say how comfortable they are dropping off their kids in the morning, because they know that everyone at Canyon Creek will love and care for their children as if they were their own. What incredible peace of mind. Many parents say how this nurturing environment has really created a safe space for their children to flourish and truly learn to love learning.
Canyon Creek Preschool’s program is formed around a “process-centered” approach that focuses on the ways in which your child learns and discovers the world around them. There is a strong emphasis on activity-based learning, so that children can learn by doing. Each classroom has both a lead teacher and an assistant teacher, giving your child more hands-on support. Classes are in session Tuesdays to Fridays, and you can choose flexible options depending on how many days you want to include.
If you read through the parent reviews for Northwest Montessori, you’ll quickly get a sense of how “foundational” the experiences have been for so many of the children. Most parents shared how their children grew and blossomed here and went on to have very successful educational careers. Phrases in reviews like “life-changing” were not uncommon. The Montessori background and the balance between structure and freedom seem to have made a truly positive impact for these kids.
Highly-rated by parents in Austin for over 35 years, Northwest Montessori offers students a nurturing environment to grow, discover, and learn at their own pace. Each Lead Teacher is Montessori certified, and each classroom has assistance teachers as well. On-campus playgrounds feature age-appropriate toys and activities, and extracurriculars include chess, computer class, gymnastics and many others.
A key word used across so many parent reviews for Parkside Community School has to be “balanced.” Parents appreciate the holistic approach to teaching and learning. They say that their children are thriving academically, emotionally, and creatively. Parents also love that teachers balance rigor with support and freedom. A few parents mentioned that there is a clear focus on the “growth of the whole child.”
For over 30 years, Parkside Community School has been nurturing and developing young hearts and minds. Their Montessori Primary Program is for children ages 3 to 6. With the mixed-aged classroom, older children mentor the younger ones. There is both a half-day program (from 8:15am to 12:30pm) as well as a full-day option (ending at 2:30pm). The 12-acre campus in Southwest Austin offers endless opportunities for fostering a love of learning and exploration.
More top-rated preschools near you
Depending on where in Austin you’re searching, here are some more highly-rated preschools by neighborhood:
- Central Austin: Kirby Hall School (North University)
- North Central Austin: Olas Spanish Immersion Preschool
- North Austin: Ecole Jean Jacques Rousseau (Oak Ridge) and Paragon Prep
- West Austin: Wonderwell (West Oak Hill)
- South Austin: Pint-Size Playhouse
- South Central Austin: Mainspring
- Southeast Central / Riverside: Helping Hands Montessori Preschool
- Southwest Austin: Happy Bunnies Preschool (Oak Hill)
- Cedar Park: First Foundations Preschool and Northwest Spanish School
- Lakeway: Bluebonnet Montessori
Common preschool questions
The first time we had to find preschools for our kids, we had so many questions -- like so many. But don’t worry, we have your back. Here are the core questions that our team pulled together and researched. If there are any others, just reach out and we’ll be happy to help. Just shoot a message over to email@example.com.
- When do kids start preschool?
- What’s the difference between preschool and pre-kindergarten?
- Is pre-k mandatory in Texas?
- What are my public school options for early education in Austin?
- What sort of license should I look for at a preschool?
- How can I get my family financial assistance for child care?
- What are my school options if I qualify for financial assistance?
When do kids start preschool?
Most preschools start accepting kids around the age of 2.5 to 3 years old, but since every child is different, this isn’t a magic number. Preschool readiness really depends more on developmental factors than chronological age. Read more in our post here.
What's the difference between preschool and pre-kindergarten?
Preschool programs are generally for children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old. Pre-kindergarten is for the higher end of that range, usually for children 4 to 5 years old. Pre-kindergarten is generally timed for the school year directly prior to when the child would enroll in kindergarten; pre-kindergartens are also usually attached to elementary schools, so families have a smooth transition to enroll in kindergarten the next year.
Is pre-k mandatory in Texas?
No. Preschool, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten are not mandatory in Texas. You can read more from the Texas Education Agency here.
What are my public school options for early education in Austin?
The Austin Independent School District offers public pre-kindergarten for students ages 4 to 5 years old, with some limited availability for students as young as 3 years old. Austin offers public pre-kindergarten for 4 to 5 year olds at almost all Austin elementary schools; pre-kindergarten is district-supported, or free, if your family meets eligibility requirements. Families can pay for tuition-based pre-kindergarten if they don't qualify for those eligibility requirements. Tuition-based pre-kindergarten is still relatively reasonable in cost compared to private preschools in Austin.
What sort of license should I look for at a preschool?
Austin preschools are required to hold a child care license and are regulated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. You can search for a school's license on the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services's website and see full inspections and reports from the last five years. There are some exemptions from a full child care license; faith-based preschools are notably exempt, as are preschools attached to a greater public or private elementary school (which are regulated via the school's school age license).
How can I get my family financial assistance for child care?
Paying for child care is expensive, and Austin does provide options for families to receive financial assistance for care. In Travis County, aid is provided by the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Child Care Services program; families can check their eligibility for the program online and if eligible, complete an application. Financial assistance is subject to the program's current funds, so exact benefit is hard to calculate in advance, but qualified families are encouraged to apply to get details on what assistance they can receive.
What are my school options if I qualify for financial assistance?
The Workforce Solutions Capital Area Child Care Services program, which provides financial aid for child care for qualified families, partners with over 400 child care programs in the Austin area, including both child care centers and in-home care providers. You can search for & secure a spot at any of these child care providers and have your care subsidized; they are all listed on the Workforce Solutions website. If you cannot find a spot at any of these child care providers, you can even organize care with a relative and still receive financial aid.