If you haven’t ever experienced the stress and anxiety of looking for a preschool, then either you are a goddess (and we bow down to you) or lying because even the coolest of cucumbers will break into a sweat when it comes to looking and choosing a 2s, 3s, or 4s program for their little bundles of joy. Enter: Paper Pinecone, an online tool that allows you to filter all your must-haves in a learning environment for your littles, for free. Check out what we love about the site and then check out the site for yourself below.

photo: Stacey Grumet 

How It Began

Stacey Grumet, a mom to a precocious (almost) 3-year-old, went through an exhaustive and frustrating preschool search that culminated in her ‘aha’ moment. “There were several problems I encountered. First, I’d visit school websites and they’d be missing basic information, like hours of operation. They’d say “full-time” and I’d tour, only to find out their hours were 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with no before or aftercare. That’s hardly full-time for a working parent,” she said. “Second, I found that there were great schools out there that didn’t have waiting lists a mile long, but they didn’t have either the budget or the background to market themselves.”

Adding to the growing list of frustration was the back and forth about scheduling tours, questions during the tours that could have been answered in a single place. Grumet says, “My mom friends were all complaining about the same things. I figured we already use sites like Grub Hub and Open Table to peruse our food options, Kayak and Expedia for our travel…why couldn’t there be something like this for preschools and daycares?”

Game Changer

Grumet started launched her site in mid-March and says it is growing daily, both from the user side and from the provider side. It’s the one place to go where you can see a list of current and future openings at facilities across Los Angeles. The best part? Providers can easily advertise availability while parents, who need immediate care, can easily find openings.

The site is free to use and look for more improvement like the online tour booking feature set to roll out later this year. According to Grumet, “It will be incredibly useful to parents and a save a tremendous amount of time and admin cost on the provider site. We’re also working to roll out to other cities this summer.”

Online: paperpinecone.com

How do you find a preschool for your kids? Let us know in the comments below!

—Andie Huber