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That’s right. It’s f—ing preschool open house season.
If you’re a first-time parent, then you’re probably going through what my wife and I are going through right now: selecting the right f—ing preschool for your child. I’m here to give you some f—ing advice.
Because you’re reading this, you need to make a f—ing spreadsheet. No, not in Excel. What are you, some kind of early twentieth-century office drone? You’re doing it in Google f—ing Sheets because you need to share it with your f—ing partner.
When you’re choosing a preschool, you’re probably thinking: how the f–k do I choose a f—ing preschool? Like, how are you going to know if this is the right preschool and that it’s not going to f–k up Zoe or Madelyn or Logan or Jacob; or you’ve just given birth to Rey and you’re already freaking the f–k out about the preschool she’s going to go to next year.
You might have thoughts like:
- What the f–k criteria should we use?
- Isn’t there an app for this?
- Can you even a/b test preschools?
- Didn’t The Atlantic write something about this?
- I have a motherf—ing MBA from f—ing Harvard and I’m a mother f—ing growth hacker with f—ing equity — not just f—ing bullshit underwater options — and now I’ve found out that none of my user acquisition and retention skills or ability to focus on OKRs mean shit when it comes to figuring out whether I should choose the Wild Sapling F—ing Waldorf Preschool over the Global F—ing Community Ni Hao Friends Preschool.
- Holy shit we should make an app for this, I need to f—ing tell Marc and Paul at secret venture f—ing capital meeting tomorrow.
The Official 22 F—ing Columns You Need In Your Mother F—ing Preschool Open House Ratings Spreadsheet
Whoop-de-f—ing-doo I just solved all of your problems for you because here are the 22 columns you need in your mother f—ing preschool open house ratings spreadsheet:
1. Name Of Preschool
What, are you stupid? Of course you need a column for the name of the preschool. How did you even get this far in life?
2. Average Score
You’re a growth hacker. You can figure this one out.
Okay, so you’re thinking about stuff like this: What’s the external situation like? Is the preschool near a busy road? What’s the neighborhood like? Are there enough black or brown people there? Are there enough white people there? What’s the average color of all the people who live there? Have you checked out the neighborhood crime statistics? Is it easy to get in and out of the building? Is it too easy to get in and out of the building? When the kids leave the building, do the instructors put masks on the kids so they can’t be identified by predators?
Next, think about the internal situation. You’re looking for signs to see if their safety preparation has been used in danger or if it’s just a “theoretical” safety situation. Do they have alarm systems? What kind? Is the firmware up-to-date? Can you monitor the preschool over the internet? Is it just using RTSP? Because you know that’s not f—ing secure, right? Are they using good cameras, like Nest or Drop-cam ones, or is it some shitty VTech thing? Look in their network closet: what’s their firewall situation like? How do they verify the identity of adults? Do they use 2-factor authentication?
Ask the preschool administrator where they stand on encryption: do they encrypt their preschoolers to keep them safe?
Chinese hackers can break in and abduct kids from even the most secure preschool if they’re not encrypted. Not even the lifeguard in the back row can keep the unencrypted kids in this preschool safe.
4. Outdoor Play Environment
Is an outdoor play environment important to you, or do you think we’ll all be living in arcologies in 15 years anyway? Do the kids get to play in woods, or just a yard? Is it even a yard or is it just a f—ing concrete patio? Are there natural play structures there or is it just something that was ordered off the f—ing internet and put together by a f—ing Task-Rabbit one weekend who doesn’t even know what a toddler looks like? This shit is important.
Languages are important if you want Harper to succeed in life. So, is the language teaching educational and didactic, or is it just exposure and immersion based? Do they spend just one hour on Mandarin, Swift, French or Python, or is it like 3 hours? Are there any native speakers? Do they expose kids to modern languages or is it all shit like Latin, which is useless, or other old languages like Lisp, which will probably be useful later?
Do they have a proper music program? Is it something like mother f—ing Music Together and you’re going to be listening to 3 years of f—ing Hello Everybody, or are the teachers just making shit up? Can the teachers actually sing or do they sing like drunk white college girls (okay, or guys) on spring break trying to do karaoke (give them 3 points) or drunk white mid-thirties women (or men) trying to do karaoke (give them 6 points)?
Are there any musical instruments? Are they real ones, or fake ones, like inflatable guitars? Is there a piano in there? Is it a f–ing proper piano, like a grand piano, is it just a shitty Melissa and Doug piano, or even worse, some plastic Fisher Price piece of crap piano that hasn’t even been in a f–ing Toy Story knock-off straight-to-video short. What’s the violin to pupil ratio? Do they spend, like, just one hour doing music or more? Do musicians visit? Why the f–k are the musicians just visiting, why the f–k don’t they live there? And, is it just western music or does the preschool acknowledge that we live in a globalized economy and have a f—ing sitar or an erhu? Can they even name just one f—ing Bollywood YouTube channel?
7. Indoor Play Environment
This one’s really f—ing important. You want to know :
- What are the toys like?
- What are they made of? Are they made of wood? Are they made of plastic? Do you want your kid to get f—ing cancer? You know being BPA-free doesn’t actually matter, right? Are the toys compostable? Are they soy-based or corn-based?
- What the f–k is this, a toy vacuum cleaner? Is it bagless? Is it even f—ing hypoallergenic?
- Are the toys branded? What brand? The right kind of brand or the wrong kind of brand?
- Gender: are the toys gendered, not gendered, or too gendered? Are there any trans toys? Are the toys inappropriately gendered? Are they pansexual?
Also: are there too many toys? Because some f—er’s going to have to tidy those f—ers away (see: Volunteering).
If you see a plastic Fisher-Price Trackmaster Thomas The Tank Engine, get the f–k out of there. If it’s a wooden Brio Thomas, then you’re good.
8. Discipline Philosophy
Ask about their philosophy about discipline because even though you tell everyone Piper’s super easy to get along with we all know that she’s a right bitch sometimes when you’re trying to get her to put her toys away. So, is the school a RIE school? Are they, like, super authoritarian? Are they the biblical authoritarian kind, or some other Abrahamic religion? Is their discipline stick-based or tree-hugging based? Will they just give every kid a f—ing medal for just showing up?
Look I know how it is. Sometimes you have to work unpredictable hours and you don’t know if Steve’s going to get off work in time to pick up Jasmyn. So, ask how flexible the preschool is. Are they, like, super flexible, or are they super rigid? How many days can you leave Jasmyn there just to get some peace of mind? Can you do half days? Do they do after-care?
If you do need to make a scheduling change, do they use Slack so you can easily contact the preschool and other parents? What’s their policy on third party Slack integrations? Is there a bot that will automatically post to your preschool group’s channel when your kid does a shit? Do they even have a proper Slack team, or is it one of those shitty free ones where all the important messages will disappear?
If they use HipChat, just leave.
10. Class Composition
Some parents care about this more than others. YMMFV. Most parents care whether the preschool is mixed age or not. You might care if it’s mainly white. Or if it’s mainly cis/het/white. Or if it’s not cis/het/white enough. Or if there are enough kids who come from a working-class upbringing so Taylor knows what it’s like to know someone whose parents have a service job.
Here’s a tip: ask if the other kids have passports. If they don’t, it’s a sign they don’t travel, and you may or may not want your kid to mix with those kinds of kids, or you may want to make sure your kid is exposed — in a controlled f—ing environment — to the kind of kids who will never have the chance to leave the country.
These preschoolers f—ing chose to do ballet so they’re f—ing doing ballet. Just look at those f—ing cheery faces.
11. Activity Balance
No, Waldorf isn’t just a f—ing salad. That’s why you’re reading this f—ing article. You just remember reading some shit that Sara posted on Facebook about all those tech founders sending their kids to Waldorf and Montessori schools.
Ask these questions:
- Does the preschool know about the growth mindset? 10 points.
- Do they know about the growth mindset but apply it inaccurately? Zero points.
- Are they group-led or individual-led?
- Are they child-led or instructor-led?
Bring a small collection of Lego with you in your pocket, take it out and ask them what you’re holding in your hand. If they call them “Legos”, then slowly close up your fist with the f—ing Lego still inside and then f—ing punch them across the f—ing nose and walk out the f—ing door without even f—ing closing it. You don’t want your child raised by those kinds of people.
This one is simple. Can you afford it? Is it low, okay, or too damn high? Most of the time you’ll want to choose a preschool that is just a little bit too expensive for you because if you don’t, you’re a f–ing disaster of a parent and you know everyone else is judging you. Do they take Venmo, Square, or Apple Pay? (10 points for Apple Pay).
If the instructors even start mouthing the words “Pay” and “Pal” go ahead and f—ing punch them in f–ing throat and move on to the next f—ing preschool. No one needs to deal with that shit.
13. Is This Preschool A Co-Op?
Here are some example scores for you:
- Full Socialist (The preschool shows sign of wear-and-tear, it is obvious nothing has been done to improve the building because nobody can agree on anything in the f—ing committee meetings): 10 points.
- 1970s/80s Britain (The preschool provides free milk and although the premises aren’t very shiny, everything is free and there’s a good chance your kid could grow up to be a bit like David Bowie and the music is pretty good): 8 points.
- Bernie Sanders runs it (It costs lots of money, but you’ll still need to do a bunch of shit like make meals and scrub the carpet, but it will make you feel superior to other parents who’re just paying the help to do all that stuff): 6 points.
- Mid 2010s Britain (You had to kill 6 other parents to get a place here, but it was easy because they were immigrants): Zero points.
- Late capitalist (It costs money that you can’t afford but you know if you don’t pay you’re a failure and anyway they take Amex and you can get miles on it, which you need because your company is cutting down on business travel and you’re probably not going to hit Elite again this year): Zero points.
14. Do They Do Field Trips?
You want to know:
- Are the field trips really field trips? Because if they’re just like going across the street to the mother f—ing park, then, no, they’re not f—ing field trips and you’re going to look like an idiot when Jennifer asks you over dinner about Kylo’s last field trip
- Do they take the kids out walking every day or do they just drag them around in those weird f—ing cart things or rope them together?
- Do they ever go to museums or galleries or the other kind of things you read about in Facebook groups?
- Do the members of the PTA also sit on the boards of other prominent local cultural institutions and businesses, and can they arrange internships, summer jobs and other such things for the kids?
That’s right. You’re going to ask them about mother f—ing almond milk.
It can be difficult to score crunchiness, so I’ll make this as easy as f—ing possible:
- Are the meals organic? How organic? You know just buying the food from f–ing Whole Foods doesn’t mean it’s organic, right? Like, do you also have to be a member of a f—ing CSA? Just one CSA? Is there a strict no-refined-sugar policy? How local is the honey? Seven points for on-premises, 0 points if they don’t even have a bee garden. Ten points if there is a regular bee-petting program where the kids can kiss the bees.
- How important is conflict resolution? Are there at least 30 minutes set aside during the day activity wheel for talking about feelings? Do the kids just use words to talk about feelings or is there a feelings chart, too?
- Is the building LEED 2009 Platinum certified? If it’s not, why the f–k did you even go inside? Are you f—ing insane?
A good way to check crunchiness is to ask about their almond milk. (If they only have soy milk, then they’re not f—ing crunchy enough. Jesus Christ, it’s not 2015.)
If when talking about almond milk they don’t know the difference between the different kinds of almond milk, then they’re f—ing charlatans and you should burn the f—ing place down.
Peer-reviewed studies show that pressed almond milk increases violent activity by 2 percent and reduces impulse control by 3 percent in toddlers, which is statistically f—ing significant. Pressed almond milk is produced by literally f—ing oppressing it out of the f—ing almonds, why the f–k do you think it’s called pressed almond milk. Zero points for pressed almond milk and give them the f—ing side-eye and sigh loudly for the rest of the open house.
Give 10 points for massaged almond milk, where light pressure is applied to the almonds through the fingertips over a period of hours to gently massage out the almond milk.
Ask if it’s okay for Sydney from f—ing Instacart to deliver a meal if you forget because you’ve got like a million other f—ing things to do.
Do you have to provide meals? Give them 10 points if you don’t have to provide meals because you’re f—ing paying them to look after your kid. It’s not like you have time to make lunch as well. If you do have to provide meals, ask if it’s okay to use Amazon Prime Now or Grubhub or whatever to send something to Ruby and see if they judge you.
Remember to ask about allergies and whether there are any nuts, but don’t ask about almond nuts because everyone knows those ones are really healthy.
17. Experience And Impression Of Instructors
There are 2 parts to this. The first is easy and is like doing a job interview. Just ask what experience the instructors actually have in, like, days, months or years, of being preschool instructors.
The second part is also like how you do a job interview: do the instructors seem nice as people, do you feel like they’re silently judging you? (Because they f—ing shouldn’t be, you’re the one who’s f—ing paying them, right?) Do you think they’re the kind of people who shout at kids? What’s your gut feel — do you want to get coffee with them? Do you think they’d get coffee with you if your partner wasn’t around? Are they wearing a wedding ring? All that kind of stuff.
18. Age of Institution
Zero points if the preschool is under 6 months old, 3 points if it’s older than 5 years, 5 points if it’s older than 10 years, 10 points if it’s older than 100 years (if you’re in America), 10 points if it’s older than 650 years (if you’re in Europe). I’m pretty sure preschools don’t even exist in countries outside of America or Europe.
19. What Are The Other Parents Like?
Because, ugh, you’re going to have to spend time with them so are they like too crunchy and have kids called sparrow and feelings or are they like normal people you could have a drink with. Count the Teslas in the parking lot (you can assume that any Teslas in the parking lot belong to parents and not to instructors). If there aren’t any Teslas, then hope to mother f—ing god there’s at least a Nissan f—ing Leaf or a Volkswagen (but not the diesel kind, you don’t want to preschool with mother f—ing cheating planet killers) in the parking lot. Otherwise, zero points.
If any parents look like they might judge you for giving Cheerios to Saffron one morning because you just need a f—ing break then nope the f–k out of there.
Yeah, even though you’re going to be paying a shit ton of money (remember: you can put it on your Amex and get miles), you’re still going to have to volunteer. Ask them what they need: help with marketing? A social media strategy? (zero points: why the f–k do they need a f—ing social media strategy in 2016? Offer to write them a bot instead)
Do they need someone to do meal prep, or someone who can play an instrument? What about product management? Sometimes preschools really lack product management capability; if they know you have product management experience then before you know it, you’ll be managing an off-shore development team in Bangalore to fix their f—ing mobile app.
21. But If We Ignored All Those Other Columns, Do We Just, Like, Have A Feeling About This One
Use whatever you put in this column to ignore whatever is in the other columns because it’s not like you actually know how to take a data-driven approach to this. Sometimes after an open house you’ll just want to say to your partner: “Yeah John, I know about the almond milk situation, but I just really f—ing like this preschool.”
If a preschool feels really up themselves, though, like they’re just really f—ing smug all the time and a bunch of sanctimonious judging shits, then by all means use this column to blow them back to the mother f—ing stone age. You don’t want to deal with that shit every morning you drop Grace off.
This is the f—ing preschool for precious f—ing Hunter we’re talking about here. You haven’t even decided if you’re going to have another kid yet, so it’s not like you’re going to have a do-over if you f–k up. You’re not going to let a f—ing Google spreadsheet let you choose the wrong preschool just because you accidentally gave Integrated Nature Preschool a 7.6 score in Safety, are you? No. Of course the f–k not.
22. Does Your Kid Like It?
Who the f–k cares? You’re doing this because you f–ing love them and want them to have the best f—ing preschool experience.
Now get the f–k up and go to those f—ing preschool open houses.
Dan Hon comes from the internet. He’s worked in online games and storytelling startups, big brand advertising and non-profits that fix digital government.