15 Popular Preschools near DC: Great Preschools in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia

The Little Folks School devotes itself to educating the whole child. Photo courtesy of the school
The Little Folks School devotes itself to educating the whole child. Photo courtesy of the school

The truth is, it's never too soon to start thinking about preschool. Some of the schools below have January application deadlines; choosing a preschool is a difficult and important decision, so parents of toddlers in the DC area should start doing their research now.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a preschool. Do you want a play-based or a nature-based school? A full-day or a half-day program? Do you have your heart set on a language immersion program or a Montessori school? Be sure to schedule tours or attend Open Houses of any preschools you are interested in to get a feel for them and see if they're a good fit. And keep in mind that popular and highly rated preschools can fill up quickly. 

With so many great preschools in the DC area, it can be hard to narrow down your search. To help you get started, here we've rounded up 15 popular preschools in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. 

Great Preschools in DC

1. Aidan Montessori School

This small Montessori school in Woodley Park offers programs for kids ages 18 months through grade 6. The toddler program, for 18-36 months, focuses on language development, movement, socialization, practical life, and functional independence. It begins at 8:15am and ends at either 11:15am or 3pm. The preschool program, for ages 2.5-6, runs from 8:30am-3pm and focuses on practical life, sensory development, art, music and movement, math, language, cultural studies, grace, and courtesy. Preschool students can also attend the after-school program from 3-6pm. Interested families can schedule a visit online. Applications are due January 14, 2022 for the 2022-2023 school year. 

Popular Preschools Near DC: Little Folks School 
We love the focus on art and music at The Little Folks School. Photo courtesy of the school

2. Little Folks School

This Georgetown preschool, which welcomes kids ages 18 months to 5, devotes itself to educating the whole child, with a focus on music and art. The school's mixed-age classes range from 12-17 students with two to three teachers per class. There is a morning-only option from 8:45-11:45am and a full-day option from 8:45am-2:45pm. Little Folks school will host monthly virtual Open Houses through February for the 2022-2023 school year. Complete the inquiry and Open House form to participate.

3. School for Friends

Dupont Circle's School for Friends is a full-day (8am-6pm), year-round preschool for kids ages 18 months to 5. The NAEYC-accredited school offers a play-based curriculum with a focus on community and diversity. It is based on the Quaker values of cooperation, service, and equity. Each class has about 12 students and one or two teachers, with a music specialist visiting each class once a week. There's also daily outdoor play, including trips to the local public pool in the summer. Applications are due March 1, 2022, with preference given to neighborhood families, Quakers, and siblings of current or former students. Parents must be willing to participate in the school's operation.

Popular Preschools Near DC: SEEC 
Museums double as classrooms for students at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC). Photo courtesy of the SEEC

4. Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC)

This unique, full-time school located in the Smithsonian museum complex welcomes infants through kindergarteners. It offers a culturally diverse curriculum with the Smithsonian's vast collections as its foundation. Students learn through personal conversations with scientists, artists, and historians and by visiting various Smithsonian exhibits. Imagine learning about dinosaurs from a real paleontologist! Enrollment is determined through a random lottery process that takes into account parents' place of employment (Smithsonian employees get priority), the child's birthdate, and sibling status. Applications are due March 1, 2022 to be included in the lottery.

5. Takoma Children's School

TCS is a progressive year-round preschool for kids ages 2-5, with a 4:1 student-teacher ratio and a curriculum that focuses on play and exploration. Though parents are not required to volunteer, the school welcomes and encourages parent participation in field trips, fundraising events, and classroom activities. Currently, TCS only offers a five-day, 8:30am-3pm schedule due to Covid, but may once again offer three- or four-day options and its regular hours of 8am-6pm in the future. Check out the school's enrollment information page to see updates and to download an application.

Great Preschools in Maryland

6. Audubon Nature Preschool — Chevy Chase

Audubon Naturalist Society's's 40-acre Woodend Nature Sanctuary serves as a classroom for Audubon Nature Preschool students as they participate in art, music, hands-on observation, discovery, and creative language. The school offers two five-day drop-off programs. The Saplings program for ages 3-4 meets Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30am-1:30pm and Fridays from 8:30-11:30am, while the Oaks program for ages 4-5 meets Mondays through Thursdays from 9am-2pm and Fridays from 9am-12pm. The school has not yet released enrollment info for the 2022-2023, so keep checking the website for updates.

7. Barrie School — Silver Spring

Barrie School has full-day programs (8am-3:30pm) for kids ages 12 months through grade 12, which means it offers families and students a long-term community. Kids start out in Barrie's lower school, which offers a hands-on Montessori curriculum that focuses on active learning and fosters each child's uniqueness. All students regularly explore the school's 45-acre wooded campus. Interested familes can sign up for a campus tour of the lower school on Tuesday, December 14 from 9:15-10:15am. Applications are accepted online.

8. Monarch Preschool College Park — College Park

For families that want an affordable full-day preschool without sacrificing quality, Monarch may be a great fit. It offers a year-round, project-based preschool program for ages 3-5. Students can attend either two, three, or five days per week from 8:30am-4pm, with before and after care available starting at 7am and ending at 6pm (8am and 5pm during Covid). Summer hours are 7am-6pm (8am-5pm during Covid), five days a week. Monarch was founded by The Children's Guild, a non-profit organization dedicated to pioneering educational services for kids and families. To register, fill out an enrollment form online.

Popular Preschools Near DC: Rochambeau 
Parlez-vous Francais? Photo courtesy of Rochambeau

9. Rochambeau, The French International School — Bethesda

Rochambeau, the only school in the DC area accredited by the French Ministry since 1955, offers kids from age 2 through 12th grade a unique combination of a French curriculum and a high-quality English program. The preschool, or "Maternelle", meets five days per week from 8:30am-3:30pm. Its curriculum focuses on spoken language in both English and French, play, exploration, and hands-on activities. The school highly values diversity, with a student body that represents more than 80 nationalities. Rochambeau will open a new campus for the 2022-2023 school year that will allow it to offer more preschool classes. The application form is due January 19, 2022.

10. Rock Creek Montessori School — Silver Spring

Rock Creek, located in a beautiful wooded setting, offers five-day Montessori programs for children ages 18 months through kindergarten. The curriculum focuses on language, math, social studies, science, practical life, sensory development, music, and art. There are both half-day (9am-12pm) and full-day (9am-3pm) options, as well as before- and after-school care starting at 7:45am and ending at 4, 5, or 6pm based on a family's needs. Students are accepted at any time throughout the school year, and parents can apply online.

Great Preschools in Northern Virginia

11. BASIS Independent McLean — McLean

BASIS Independent McLean serves students from age 2 through grade 12 with a globally benchmarked curriculum. Its toddler program for ages 2 and 3 lays the foundational basis for physical, social, emotional, and language development. The Pre-K and kindergarten programs foster students' curiosity through inquiry, exploration, and discovery, and includes enrichment classes in subjects like engineering, Mandarin, and drama. Interested families can join the BASIS Interest List, and must submit an application by January 20, 2022 for the 2022-2023 school year.

12. Brooksfield School — McLean

This Montessori school, located on five acres of woodlands, offers five-day toddler, preschool, and kindergarten programs that focus on the arts and nature. The toddler program (ages 2 and up) runs from 9am-12pm or 9am-3pm, depending on what families choose. The preschool program is 9am-12pm for 3-year-olds and 9am-3pm for the older preschoolers. Both programs offer an extended day option that begins at 7:30am and ends at 5:55pm. You can schedule a tour or apply online.

Popular Preschools Near DC: Browne Academy
Browne Academy encourages kids to be critical thinkers. Photo courtesy of Browne Academy

13. Browne Academy — Alexandria

Browne Academy teaches kids ages 3 through 8th grade 21st-century skills that encourage them to be critical thinkers, innovators, ethical leaders, and engaged peers. The school's Innovation Center provides students with hands-on learning experiences, and the average class size of 12 allows for personalized attention. The school day is 8am-3:15pm, but Browne also provides before and after care starting at 7am and ending at 6pm. The school will offer virtual open houses on December 5, 2021 and January 5, April 14, and May 21, 2022. Interested parents can also fill out an online inquiry form to get further info or submit an application online.

14. Grasshopper Green Preschool — Annandale

Grasshopper Green, founded in 1939, is the oldest preschool in Northern Virginia. The school is located in a converted farmhouse on a secluded campus with a gym and a three-acre playground. Grasshopper Green offers a full-day (7am-6pm), year-round program for kids ages 2-5. All students have gym class twice a week and music once a week, plus a weekly computer class once they reach the 3-year-old classroom and a weekly Spanish class when they reach the 4-year-old class. Once students reach kindergarten, they can go on to attend the K-6 Kenwood School at the same location. Call the school to schedule a tour.

Popular Preschools Near DC: Pinecrest School 
Pinecrest School's hands-on, project-oriented curriculum has won it several awards. Photo courtesy of Pinecrest School

15. Pinecrest School — Annandale

This award-winning school serves kids ages 3-12, with a half-day (8:35am-12:05pm), five-day-a-week preschool program for ages 3 and 4. The preschool also offers after care until 6pm. Its hands-on, project-oriented curriculum emphasizes critical thinking. The typical preschool day combines free play with teacher-directed activities that develop pre-literacy, pre-numeracy, science, and social studies concepts. Students also practice mindfulness activities, enjoy daily recess, and have music, art, and physical education enrichment classes. Pinecrest accepts applications on a rolling basis, meaning there's no deadline to apply.

Outdoor Family Storytime at Noyes Library
Noyes Library for Young Children - 9:30 AM Pick
Preschool Storytime at Herndon Library
Herndon Fortnightly Library - 10:30 AM
Artechouse - 10:00 AM
Story Time at Union Market
Union Market - 10:30 AM
Food for the People: Eating and Activism in Greater Washington
Anacostia Community Museum - various times
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides