NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- When you apply to Buckle My Shoe the ever-so-smiling head teacher, Linda, and the other equally smiling, impossibly enthusiastic teachers make you feel so welcome. And more importantly, they fill your head with just how excellent and superior Buckle My Shoe is. They use the Reggio Emilia technique, they are expensive because they hire only the best of the best, etc. The truth however is more sinister...
Buckle My Shoe claims to adhere to the highest standards of education, but many teachers have trouble spelling basic words. For instance, 'bibs' was spelled 'bibes' and 'Dr Seuss' was 'Dr Seuse'. I pulled my child out after one year, so let me tell you about the infant classroom. The head of the class, Miss **, does absolutely nothing, barely interacts with the children and rarely enters their class room.
Even though she introduces herself as the head of the infant class, you will learn that you are paying her to sit all day by the front door, eating non-stop which is probably for the best since her level of education is such that she cannot string together one grammatically correct sentence. I'm not kidding when I say that at times, the woman spoke 'street'. Isn't the whole point of 'street' that you learn it on the street, not from teachers in high-paying schools such as Buckle My Shoe?! Oh and she's been there for 25 years, so is not likely to be going anywhere soon. And of course you, the parent, are paying high prices to keep her (and probably her union) happy.
The remaining infant class teachers are sweet, though extremely forgetful it seems, so be sure to label everything, or your kid will repeatedly go home wearing someone else's clothes, with some other kid's bottles or bibs (bibes) or spoons, etc.
Here's another thing, you may supply all the diapers you like but they disappear at a rate of knots, and they're not all ending up on your child. Several times, baffled by the incredible diaper disappearance, I scoured the room for myself only to find half empty packets of my kid's diapers (all labelled with her name) strewn about the place, lost under a crib, stuffed in some other kid's cubbyhole, dropped behind a shelf. The place was an absolute mess. Oh and we're not talking about 30 kids here, that year the infant classroom had just 6.
The teachers, sweet as they are, seem to have trouble retaining even the most basic information. I frequently wondered why my child had diaper rash after a day at school, only to learn that the teachers were never applying the diaper rash cream that I had supplied. I repeatedly reminded them that every diaper change needed to be accompanied by a generous application of diaper rash cream, yet it NEVER happened. Each day my child would come home with a red butt. I would apply generous amounts of cream, only to send her to Buckle My Shoe the next day for another round of painfully red butt. It was frustrating.
When my child's birthday came around, I threw a party and invited the other kids in the class. No one showed up. Weeks later I bumped into another parent who told me that no one had showed up to her child's birthday party either. It turned out that the 'genius' teachers had forgotten to distribute our invitations to the other parents! Did they apologize when I confronted them? No. They just blamed one another.
And here's the worst part. Don't bother complaining to the smiling head teacher about anything, as you will quickly learn that you, the paying parent, are the enemy. I shuddered as I watched that sugary smile vanish, only to be replaced by a wall of callous, sociopathic hatred and hard eyes. I was traumatized for days by the transformation from sweet to cold in that woman's face, when I had informed her about all the spelling errors. Her response was "It's just one spelling mistake. Don't be so nasty."
Unfortunately I only had photographic evidence of one spelling error (it hadn't occurred to me to photograph prior ones). I did mention that there had been more than one spelling mistake, but she wasn't interested, and was dead-set on defending her staff against me, the paying enemy. After that, I was no longer treated to the sugary smile, when I dropped off and collected my child. Remember you, the parent, are paying top dollar for this level of service.
Speaking of top dollar for absolutely nothing, once your child becomes ready for toilet training, I have heard from parents of older children, that Buckle My Shoe makes no attempt to help with your toilet training routine. The classes are small, yet Buckle My Shoe claim that they can't collaborate with you. Every other school I have interviewed (that is less expensive, provides longer hours and has larger classes), said that of course they would collaborate with parents in their toilet training efforts.
Here's another rub. Once your child is in the school, if you wish to stay a second year, Buckle My Shoe expects you to renew your contract in January, knowing full well that other schools start accepting applications later in the year. Speaking with other parents, I found that many renewed even though they would rather have the opportunity to wait and try to get into another less expensive school. Of course, no working parent wants to lose their spot in Buckle My Shoe only to later discover that other schools are fully booked, so they sign out of fear. Very clever Buckle My Shoe.
And finally, if, after reading this, you still wish to enroll your kid at Buckle My Shoe, be sure to read the contract. You will get a refund under NO, and I mean NO circumstances. If you suddenly have to move for work, if someone dies (maybe even if you die), your money is theirs from the January of the year your child is due to start. And we all know that a lot can happen between January and September! Perhaps, if like other schools they demanded renewals in April or May, that would be more realistic, albeit less lucrative for Buckle My Shoe.
Finally, note that their contract is efficiently worded to ensure they get your money and don't really have to give you anything in return. Read it! It's all about your obligations, and mentions nothing about their responsibilities to you and your child.
The head teacher claims to love children, but when your child walks through that door every morning, she sees nothing but walking dollar bills. If you don't believe it, then compare Buckle My Shoe with other schools. Compare prices, compare payment and enrollment policies (many schools ask for enrollment in April or later, and for payment at the start of every month), compare cancellation policies (many schools allow you to quit with two months notice), compare wording on the contract (do other schools talk about their obligations to your child, or is it worded to include only your obligations to the school?).
These are things you can look into before you enroll your child. And don't be duped when you are told that the school's tough approach to payment and enrollment is what keeps the school at such a high standard. Buckle My Shoe is not the only school to use the Reggio Emilia system, yet it is the only school to claim that in order to uphold it's 'high' standards, which as I have demonstrated above are not high at all, it has to enforce tough enrollment, payment and cancellation policies. Yeah right! Good luck everyone. School hunting is hard, and schools like Buckle my Shoe are there to exploit the fact that finding a school is so hard these days.