It isn't easy to choose a preschool. There's location, cost, class size, and schedule to consider. Plus, if your child has special health needs such as severe allergies or cystic fibrosis (like mine), the considerations you need to take as a parent seem to quadruple. You have to be thorough. You have to have a clear plan. And you have to ask the right questions.

How many is too many?

Class size and student-to-teacher ratio are important. My daughter needs to be protected from respiratory viruses. This is going to be pretty close to impossible at any preschool. However, the fewer children there are in her class, the less likely there will be germs getting sneezed around. In addition, the more teachers there are, the more likely your child will get the attention (as in the right medications at the right times) she needs.

How small is too small?

Another consideration for us was the actual size of the classroom. Too small of a room with a bunch of little kids around would mean there was no escape for my daughter from any of the germs. Too small of a room would be like sticking her in a glass box full of the cold virus.

Is there a nurse?

Some preschools are located in actual school buildings where there is a nurse. This is a huge plus for us in terms of administering medications and having a place for our daughter to go if she becomes ill. And a nurse, although most likely not an expert in all health conditions, is more likely to have a basic knowledge of your child's condition than the teacher may have.

Is it accessible?

Some preschools are in buildings that may not be 100% accessible for children with wheelchairs or walkers. It's rare, but still possible to run into this problem. However, finding a school with an accessible playground is probably going to be tough. But they do exist. Spend some time researching to see if you can find one for your child so she doesn't miss out on any of the fun.

Is it clean?

This is huge for us, again because of the germ factor. One preschool we checked out had a bird for a class pet. Birds are not the best for people with cystic fibrosis because of certain bacteria they can carry. Plus, if doorknobs are never cleaned, there is a very good chance of our daughter catching a cold or even the flu without even being near the person who is sick.

What is their experience?

Sometimes, you can find a school where a teacher has had experience with a child who has the same condition as your child. This person will have a very clear understanding of the accommodations that need to take place for your child.

Get started early to find the right preschool and ensure a spot for your child. Be sure to visit the school and perhaps even sit in on part of the day. If you can't find the right preschool for your child, don't stress. Your child can always start mid-year or not at all. Preschool is a great way to gain some skills for kindergarten, learn to socialize, and learn to be away from Mom and Dad if your child hasn't gone to daycare, but it isn't required. Your child can skip preschool altogether and learn the necessary skills with you at home.