Research for Montessori preschool

Research was conducted in April-May 2022 for Montessori preschool and intended for preschool owner and preschool website team (website developer, web designer and content manager).

Research question

What criteria do parents consider when choosing a preschool? How does the overall process work? Are there any problems with current process for this preschool?

Business objectives

  1. Reduce overload for preschool managers: By making the preschool website a primary source of information for parents, we can alleviate the administrative burden. Desired target is reducing 50% of calls and emails.

  2. Increase admission: We want to create an appealing online presence and simplify admission process. Desired target is 10% increased admission rate.

Methods

Interviews: Conducted user interviews with parents who have just chosen this preschool and with parents whose kids were already attending the preschool (4 respondents in each group). Also I conducted interview with the preschool manager to understand workload and key questions she needs to address.

Observations: Observed parents’ interactions with the preschool website after interviews.

Survey: Gathered quantitative data through a survey (45 parents who secured a place in any local preschool).

Secondary methods include preschool website heuristic evaluation and competitive analysis.

After the interviews, I performed a thematic analysis to identify key themes. I used an affinity diagram with post-it notes to organize the findings. Then I launched a survey.

Key themes

  • Parents' experience regarding the admission process

  • Impression of the current process with the preschool

  • Challenges related to the preschool website

About the admission process

Preschool selection process begins 8-11 months before enrollment and takes 5-8 weeks from the initial search to securing a preschool place. But after securing a place there are more steps to do. Parents feel that the process is finished after their child is getting used to preschool. It happens after 2-3 months after enrollment.

So the overall admission process lasts 11-14 months for parents. Every step of the process has opportunities to improve.

Findings from survey

Parents’ experience regarding the admission process:

  • All survey respondents relied on preschool websites during their search. Therefore, the website should provide clear information to assist decision-making.

  • Around 75% parents started from choosing between 3-5 preschools. After initial screening they cut off 1-3 preschools from their shortlists and viewed 2-3 preschools only.

  • Key criteria for parents were distance from home, available spaces, opening hours, admission age, fees, facilities.

  • At least 30% of survey repondents didn't know anything about free childcare hours that means they don't understood fees. 45% had some information but still needed clarification from the preschool manager.

  • Additionally to key criteria, around 60% of parents had questions related to preparation and adaptation to the preschool.

  • Around 50% of parents considered friend's recommendations.

  • Around 25% of survey respondents were interested in Montessori approach although only 10% could explain benefits of this approach.

  • For 5% of survey respondents early arrival was necessary. You may consider adding an early arrival (8.00am - 8.20am).

Findings from interview

Challenges related to the preschool website:

  • Parents have difficulty finding information about main criteria (especially fees) and have to contact the administrator.

  • Competitive advantages (large outdoor space, qualified teaching staff) are not highlighted and were discovered only after visiting the preschool.

  • Text on the website is difficult to read, long, not engaging and has some terms.

  • There are no photos or videos that would convey information better.


Impression of the current process with this preschool:

  • Admission process is not clear for parents.

  • Preschool website disappoints prospective parents.

  • Some parents have problem with viewings because they don't expect to wait 2-3 weeks for viewing. They complain about limited hours availability and don't have enough time to ask all questions during viewing.

  • Admission forms are difficult to find and complete.

  • Parents needs to contact administrator a few times before viewing because they could not find the information on the website.

  • Parents feel stressed and abandoned because they are not being guided through the process and don't know what to expect.

  • Parents feel stupid because they don't understand fees.

Quotes

  • "What are kids doing there during the day? I would love to see some photos… before I put my child there. Otherwise I need to trust them but I know nothing about this preschool."

  • "I don't understand this table. I don't know if I should pay something on the top. Maybe for lunch? Or 15 free hours means exactly free of charge?"

  • "What is the difference between morning and afternoon sessions? Can I combine sessions?"

  • "Sounds silly but I didn't find the entrance for the first time. You know it's a big territory. I also had problems with parking."

  • "I was really disappointed when I was told that I could not attend the introductory session with my child."

Actionable steps

Make the website informative and simplify admission process:

  1. Add important information on the main page including preschool address, available places, opening hours and admission age.

  2. Add clear links to Fees, Admission and Facilities pages.

  3. Add photos to the Facilities page to interest potential parents.

  4. Add calendar to book viewings.

  5. Add example of how to fill admission forms.

  6. Explain fees and admission process on the corresponding pages.

  7. Rewrite content in conversational tone, break it up into sections, with lists for easy scanning.


Reduce number of additional questions:

  1. Add information about children daily schedule.

  2. Add information about additional paid activities.

  3. Add information about preparation and adaptation to preschool.

  4. Explain benefits of Montessori approach.

  5. Add video about facilities, regular activities, teachers and territory.

  6. Add reviews from parents.

© 2024 Natalia Sergeeva