Most American parents report that choosing a daycare center is a stressful and time consuming task. It’s easy to see why. There may be dozens or even hundreds of daycare options in your area, each with a different style and outlook. Since your child is going to be spending a sizable part of his or her week here, you want to make the best possible choice. You want highly trained staff who “get” working with kids, you want a strong commitment to safety, and you want the tools and amenities that make daycare fun and dynamic.
Wading through the various options and settling on the right daycare center for your child isn’t always easy. You’d like to visit every single daycare center and observe the daily routine, but this isn’t possible. You’d like to try every option for a day or two and see what works, but it’s far too demanding on both you and your child.
Here’s where online reviews deserve special consideration. There are many factors that should (and will) go into your decision, but online reviews are a particularly useful tool. They allow you to draw on the experiences of other parents and children, bringing greater clarity to this important decision. Here’s how they work in your favor:
1. They’re unbiased
Daycare centers should love working with kids; but they’re also businesses who want to be successful and build a solid reputation. Parents, on the other hand, only want the best for their children. When they write a review describing their experience with a daycare center, it’s probably an accurate depiction of what the experience was like for them. That doesn’t mean your experience is going to be the same; but online reviews are valuable because they aren’t promotional materials or branding messages—they’re real daycare experiences.
2. They’re everywhere
If you know where to look, you’ll be able to gather dozens or even hundreds of reviews to help your daycare search. Imagine being able to ask everybody in your town or city about their daycare experiences; that’s the power of the online review. When you’re making a decision as important as this one, you need plentiful information. Online reviews can give you a deeper context for your decision.
3. They illustrate common pitfalls
Parents don’t always think of daycare from every conceivable angle; it’s easy to forget about some of the problems and resolutions that often do occur. Reading reviews can show parents aspects of daycare they hadn’t previously considered, giving them a more complete picture of what they seek in a daycare center. Both positive and negative reviews give greater context to your own list of daycare requirements.
A wealth of useful information
A daycare center with a clear, organized web site is always a good thing. And a personal visit to the center is a must when it comes down to making a final decision. But parents who are just beginning their daycare research, or are thinking about switching to a new daycare center, will find a wealth of useful information in reading the experiences of others.