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Playing The Waiting List Game

HappiFamli, Senior Waiting List Correspondent

March 20, 2018

Although the next school year for preschools doesn’t start until late August/early September, schools are pulling from waiting lists now.  We have some tips to help you play the wait list game.  

Many excellent child care centers and preschools have long waiting lists, so you need to plan for that in your timing of selecting the right school for your child.  You should be touring schools at least a year in advance of your anticipated start date if at all possible.  It also a good idea to have some “back-up plans” for other schools that would work well for your family.  Most schools also do have a fee to get on the wait-list, so you have to be smart with your money.  I recommend getting on about 3-4 waiting lists, where you would truly feel comfortable having your child attend that school.  That way, you have more than 1 option, but aren’t paying a ton of money at schools you probably don’t feel that great about.

Once your child is on a waiting list, there are some things you can do to help ensure the school knows you are interested:

1.  Make sure you understand who has priority on the wait list and how that affects your placement.  Most schools have sibling priority, where siblings of existing students are moved to the top of the wait list.  At other schools certain businesses that are close to the center may have priority (think IBM, Intel, etc), church members may have priority, etc. 

2.  Write a letter to the school explaining why the school is such a great fit for your child and what qualities put it at the top of your list. You want to make it clear that you hope your child will be admitted when a slot opens up.

3. Call the director and have a conversation about similar things that were in your letter. You may also, if applicable, discuss how you plan to contribute to the school.  Do NOT make frequent phone calls.  Call once a month at the MOST – but at least once a semester

4.  If you know someone with children who attend the preschool, you can ask them to make a call to the director on your behalf. They should stress how wonderful your child and family are and what a wonderful asset they would be to the school.  Again, specific details on why your child is a good fit and exactly what you could help the school with are always beneficial.

Good luck in your search!!