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Hot Competition for Preschool Leaves Parents in the Cold

Posted January 24, 2008
Updated January 25, 2008

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— Fans braved chilly temperatures and bundled up in sleeping bags, heavy coats, gloves and scarves to wait outside all night – at preschools in Wake County.

Demand for space in popular preschools in Wake County has gotten so hot that parents were willing to camp outside overnight to ensure that their children get spots for the fall.

Parents of preschool children said their situation is all about supply and demand.

"This is what you have to do to get your kids into a preschool in the area," said Dan O'Connell, who secured the second-place spot in line at Hope Lutheran Church in Wake Forest.

Danielle Steele beat O'Connell to the punch by arriving at the church's preschool at 3 p.m. Thursday. The school will open its doors for fall registration at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Hope Lutheran's preschool has already received nearly 200 application requests, staffer Regina Fisher said. Nearly half of the applicants will be turned away due to the growing demand.

"We would rather they not come so early, but it's a compliment to our program that they value what we do here," Fisher said.

A similar scene was developing outside the Primrose School, just down the road in Wake Forest. Primrose has been open for less than two years, but is already nearly full.

"A lot of our parents are relocating from New York, New Jersey, those types of places, because of the many advantages in the Raleigh-Wake Forest area," Primrose employee Melissa Pettis said.

Steele admitted that even some other parents think waiting outside a preschool overnight was a bit too much.

"I already know I'm crazy. My husband thinks I'm crazy," she said.

Still, Steele said, the pressure is on parents to go to extremes in order to secure a spot for the child at popular preschools. She was willing to brave overnight lows predicted to hit 21 degrees to get for a slot at Hope Lutheran.

"This is not the only school I'm trying for, because I have to have a back-up plan," Steele said. "I could do this and not get in."


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  • Space Mountain Jan 25, 2008

    I went to preschool in Durham at a place called Land of the Little People.

  • aquamama Jan 25, 2008

    "Wow, aquamama, nothing like reading something and ignoring it, is there?"

    Is there something I read and ignored? I don't think so. I probably just didn't read it. Is there something you ignored? Yeah, the fact that I don't care if you want to be an idiot and go wait in the freezing cold. Like I said, I think preschool is great. All my kids went to some kind or another. And I know you wouldn't be able to tell if it was a fancy one or not. Maybe you would make assumptions by the shoes they wore or the backpacks they carried. But you and I both know what happens when you assume.

  • TwoFer Jan 25, 2008

    Kids, don't let parents drive drunk.

  • Hot Mama in WF Jan 25, 2008

    DrJ, I agree completely!

  • DrJ Jan 25, 2008

    Hope Lutheran is a great place with great people, and it offers the Christ centered environment that's not available at most preschools. These articles do it an injustice by pretending that the only reason it's in high demand is simply because preschool spaces in WF are difficult to find.

  • Hot Mama in WF Jan 25, 2008

    Pegasis, unless I missed something in the article, I didn't see where any of the parents had their children outside with them.

    Preschool/daycare, there isn't a big difference in them anymore. Both try to adapt children to the social setting that will face them in school. My mother watched both my girls as infants and my pediatrican once told me that although that was great to have family watching them, that they needed to be exposed to other children for various reasons. I would love to be a stay at home mom, home school my girls (I envy the parents that can do that), unfortunately I can not. It is not that I am materialistic, it is because I need my employment to survive. I found the best preschool/daycare that I could afford, and yes I was forced to be on many waiting lists, but I did the best I could.

  • JAT Jan 25, 2008

    Wow, aquamama, nothing like reading something and ignoring it, is there? And, yes, I can usually tell the quality of the preschool that the child went to as well. It's fairly easy. But it's still not about I think I'm better or my kid is better. For me, anyways, it's about giving my child the best that I can find and afford. I owe it to my child to provide the best and this is one easy way that I can do that.

  • baileysmom3 Jan 25, 2008

    DONT WAIT OUTSIDE WITH YOUNG CHILDREN. are you guys nuts? I think your crazy to take your young children out overnight in freezing weather. Just nuts. Apply to these programs a year in advance for the following year and stop the nonsence.

  • tarheelpatriot Jan 25, 2008

    Why not live and let live? If it was worth the wait for those parents why would that bother me? Maybe it is the "IN" school because it is a great preschool. I stayed home with my kids but saw benefits to limited preschool time. Yep ..I loved the time to shop/ get my hair done/meet friends. Why is that a bad thing, seems healthy to me.

  • Mr. Keeping It Real Jan 25, 2008

    For all of those who think pre-school is a MUST - DAYCARE KIDS RULE! Lord forbid, my wife and I both work (I guess because we're too materialistic - WHATEVER!) and he was IN a 4/5 star daycare that teaches the same curriculum as daycare until he started kindergarten (and he is now ahead of 95% of his classmates). So don't knock down daycare or my child may knock down your's in a spelling bee (or is it b or bea - I don't know and I went to PRESCHOOL - THERE YA GO!).