Don't Rely on Reviews When Searching for Daycare or Preschool - Blog

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Don't Rely on Reviews When Searching for Daycare or Preschool

Published Date: 11/04/19

I received a frantic call from a parent who was searching desperately for a preschool for her daughter. She couldn’t find one to suit her. She had the same issue with every school she toured: the cubby area was messy.

She believed a messy cubby area was an indicator of a disorganized, poorly run program and refused to send her daughter to a preschool who didn’t keep theirs tidy. I’ve toured dozens of schools and have never noticed the tidiness of their cubby area.

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In a parenting Facebook group, a mom posted about something she saw in her daughter’s preschool. Two children were sitting on the floor playing without pants or underwear on. I’d say the responses were 70/30 that this wasn’t a big deal. Many parents recognized that first, children see each other naked all of the time at preschool, and second, likely these children were getting changed on their own, (highly encouraged in preschool), perhaps after having accidents during nap time (it was 3:00), got distracted, and started playing before the teacher - who had 12 children in her care - saw.

The 30% of parents who thought this was a big deal thought it was a REALLY big deal. “Pull your child immediately, no questions asked,” wrote one mom. “Where the heck is the teacher or whoever is taking care of them not acceptable,” wrote another. “OMG, I would totally go crazy if that’s my daughter, she can be in her wet pee pants until I arrive,” added mom #3. A few responses were more moderate and encouraged the original poster to speak with the teachers before passing judgment.

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Many parents have contacted us about preschools requiring naps. They don’t believe their child should have to nap because he or she hasn’t napped at home in a while and some have gotten quite angry at directors who insist that their child rest (we all know you can’t force a child to sleep). It’s the law that full-day preschools provide a rest period during which staff get breaks and the ratio laws change, so fewer teachers can be present. Most permit a quiet activity for a child to do if they’re not asleep within a specified time frame, but require children to remain on their cots. Allowing them to get up is disruptive to others and most schools don’t have the staff to allow children to leave the room.

Wearing shoes in preschool is another one that gets parents riled up. Some schools require children to wear shoes at all times, including during nap time, in case of an emergency. Some parents deem wearing shoes inside unsanitary and are horrified at the thought of their child sleeping on their cot with shoes. It’s not something parents necessarily think to ask about when choosing a preschool but they get quite upset after enrolling and finding out.

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Which brings me to the point. Childcare reviews are meaningless. Any of the parents described above could easily leave poor reviews for a program without giving a full explanation. Here’s what these reviews might look like:

Cubby mom: * Horrid and filthy. Completely lacks organization. Avoid.

Naked children: * No supervision. Children are left alone without clothes on! I pulled my daughter.

No nap: * Not engaging. Children are bored.

Shoes are dirty: * Disgusting. They spread germs and don’t care about cleanliness.

These aren’t exactly accurate representations of a program, but these are the legitimate feelings of parents about issues that other parents may deem unimportant. Any one of these could be the best program out there for your family, but you decide not to tour after reading that review without full context.

There are also often cases of disgruntled employees leaving baseless negative feedback on various review sites after being terminated. You have no way of knowing if a review came from a parent or a staff memeber who has been fired.

Major offenses that are licensing violations should be reported to the state, and you should always check the status of your provider’s license before enrolling. If your provider is license exempt, as many religious programs are, you should ask to speak with currently enrolled parents without the director present to help vet the facility.

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Asking the right questions when you tour and knowing what to look for can help ensure your provider is a great fit and you’ll be happy with program long-term. And if you do check reviews, take every word with a grain of salt.

Paper Pinecone is the best resource for parents searching for daycare and preschool programs. Start your free search today.