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  1. until
    Join Tami Doig, Daystar's Head of School and early childhood expert, for a conversation about what to look for in a good preschool or kindergarten according to the framework established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This time not work for you? No worries! Sign up on their website to join one of their regularly scheduled calls or conversations. Register here for NPN's Preschool & Elementary School Fair to receive the link for this virtual coffee session.
  2. NPN Admin

    Center for Talent Development

    until
    Attend a live presentation, Why Enrichment is All the Buzz In Person and Online with Rhoda Rosen, Associate Director, Center for Talent Development. Register here for NPN's Preschool & Elementary School Fair to receive the link for this virtual coffee session.
  3. until
    Join Lisa Zimmer, Head of Early Childhood, at Catherine Cook School for a presentation, followed by Q & A. Register here for NPN's Preschool & Elementary School Fair to receive the link for this virtual coffee session.
  4. until
    Join us for a BISC Lincoln Park Virtual Open House. Enjoy presentations from our Principal, admissions team, teachers and current parents, ask questions, and explore all that we have to offer your child. Register here for NPN's Preschool & Elementary School Fair to receive the link for this virtual coffee session.
  5. until
    Join Bennett Day School's Director of Enrollment, Laura Maheshwary, for a short presentation followed by a Q&A. Register here for NPN's Preschool & Elementary School Fair to receive the link for this virtual coffee session.
  6. NPN Tareema

    COVID Regression and What to Do About It

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    Have you noticed a regression in your child—behaviorally, developmentally or socially—since the start of the pandemic? You're far from alone. Join NPN for a webinar on how to detect and manage COVID regression, whether you have a child with special needs or a typically developing child in the crucial development years of 2–5. In this discussion, you will hear from behavioral specialists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, and psychologists about the typical signs that your child may be experiencing developmental regression due to the pandemic. You will also learn about the strategies professionals are using, services that are available, and what activities you can do in the home to combat COVID-19 regression. Our esteemed panel consists of: Dr. Shay McManus, Neuropsychologist, Eyas Landing Dr. Chrisna M. Perry, PhD, Founder & Director, Comprehensive Learning Services Lorell Marin, Founder, CEO & Therapist, LEEP Forward Nicole Cissell, Clinical Director, BGF Children's Therapy Jason Wetherbee, Director of Clinical Services & Program Development, EB Pediatric Resources Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor, Eyas Landing Thank you to our Supporting Sponsors, Comprehensive Learning Services and LEEP Forward By registering for this event, you agree that NPN may share your name and email address with our presenting sponsors.
  7. NPN Tareema

    Preschool Philosophies

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    Choosing the right preschool for your child can be an overwhelming task, especially in Chicago where there are so many options. With so many different preschool philosophies, how do you know which philosophy works for you and your family? In this discussion you will learn about a variety of preschool philosophies, hear examples of good questions to ask and things to think about when you are researching preschools, and walk away confident in your ability to choose a preschool that is a good fit for your family. There will be time for Q&A at the end! Our esteemed school panel consists of: Erin Woodhams, Director of Marketing, Admissions, and Communications, British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park Meg Fitzgerald, Director of Early Childhood Education, Bennett Day School Samantha Maxwell, Preschool Director, Bubbles Academy Arts-Integrated Preschool Andrea Shaffer, Faculty Director, Chicago Waldorf School Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor, British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park, we also appreciate our Supporting Sponsor, Bennett Day School. By registering for this event, you agree that NPN may share your name and email address with our presenting sponsor.
  8. NPN Tareema

    Kindergarten Prep & Age Cut Off

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    Preparing for kindergarten can feel like a daunting task, and myths about the Illinois age cut-off abound. If you are wondering if your four year old or six year old can attend kindergarten, or if you want to know how to help your child prepare for kindergarten, this is the session for you. Our esteemed panelists will explain what teachers really want parents to know about kindergarten. We will also discuss the Illinois law around age cut off, answering all of your questions about this confusing piece of the puzzle. There will be time for Q & A at the end. You will walk away from this discussion understanding: 1. What it means to be kindergarten-ready 2. How to help your child prepare for kindergarten 3. The kindergarten age cut off law in Illinois and if there are any exceptions Our esteemed school panel consists of: Tiffany Wells, Director Enrollment Management, Catherine Cook School Meg Fitzgerald, Director of Early Childhood Education, Bennett Day School Georgia Burke, Admissions Director, St. Josaphat School Bonnie Ho, Principal, Pui Tak Christian School Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor: Catherine Cook School By registering for this event, you agree that NPN may share your name and email address with our presenting sponsor.
  9. until
    In preschool, young children learn how to move through the world, navigate challenges, manage their feelings, and be a friend. These foundational skills follow children their entire lives and, after nearly two isolating pandemic years, they are more important than we’ve ever realized. A preschool that can support your child’s social-emotional growth is one of the most important investments you can make in your child's life. In this discussion you will learn: 1. How preschools address children’s social-emotional needs 2. How to gauge a school’s approach to social-emotional learning as you research schools 3. Why social-emotional learning is so important, especially now Our distinguished panel features these experts: Erin Woodhams, Director of Marketing, Admissions, and Communications, British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park Kevin O'Brien, Director, Mary Meyer School Meg Fitzgerald, Director of Early Childhood Education, Bennett Day School Samantha Maxwell, Preschool Director, Bubbles Academy Arts-Integrated Preschool Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor: British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park Thank you to our Supporting Sponsors: Mary Meyer School Bennett Day School Bubbles Academy Arts-Integrated Preschool By registering for this event, you agree that NPN may share your name and email address with our presenting sponsor.
  10. NPN Amy J.

    Annual Preschool & Elementary School Fair

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    Held every fall, NPN’s Annual Preschool & Elementary School Fair has been the No. 1 resource for school-searching parents for over 20 years! Parents can chat with reps from Chicago preschools and private elementary schools and attend breakout sessions about Chicago public schools. This year our school fair is virtual and runs from Saturday, September 25th through Saturday, October 16th. See the list of participating schools here. This year's fair consists of smart, organized, and one-of-a-kind resources and virtual events. FREE for NPN members! (Members, login to register). Register now to access: 1. Updated and new information in our School and Daycare Directory - File downloads - Videos - Photos - And more 2. An open house calendar - No need to search all over for dates, we pull them together for you in one simple document - Updated weekly as schools confirm/add dates - Register now to receive the link to the calendar 3. Live, virtual coffee talks with schools - Meet private school representatives - Watch a short, live presentation by the school - Ask questions - Register now for the schedule and links 4. Breakout sessions that explain everything you need to know about Chicago Public Schools 10/8/21 12:00 - 1:00pm CPS 101: Questions & Answers (FREE with school fair registration, receive the Zoom link in your school fair confirmation email) 10/15/21 12:00 - 1:00pm CPS 201: Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools Questions & Answers (FREE with school fair registration, receive the Zoom link in your school fair confirmation email) 10/22/21 12:00 - 1:00pm CPS 301: Selective Enrollment High Schools & Choice Programs (FREE for NPN members, REGISTRATION REQUIRED, register here) Registration required > FREE for NPN members > $35 non-members, comes with NPN membership to be activated November 1, for new members only. Does not apply to membership reactivations. >> Or join NPN now for $25 using promo code school21 and access the school fair, and everything NPN has to offer, for free! << Questions? Email Executive Director Amy Johnson at director@npnparents.org. NPN is a 501(c)(3) organization. We rely on the support of our members, partners, supporters, and sponsors to bring exceptional programming like this to parents. We would like to thank our Preschool & Elementary School sponsors for their support: Thank you to our sponsors Thank you to our media partner: Crain's Chicago Business Schools: Exhibitor registration is open. Click here to register.
  11. As we begin to talk about the “s” word again ("school"), you may be weighing some options for your kids coming into the fall. If you have a toddler at home, you may also be entertaining the idea of preschool to help get your little one reintroduced to the world, interacting with peers — as well as adults other than your immediate family — and just beginning to develop social skills again as we emerge from our homes. [Related: What to look for in a therapeutic preschool] While preschool is not a requirement or necessary for later success in school, experts agree it provides an environment for children to explore, play with peers, build self-confidence, and strengthen their social and emotional development, all while having fun and learning routines. If you’re ready to send them off for more of these social experiences, you’ve likely fallen into a lot of options in Chicago for early learning. One factor to also consider in your search is whether your child would be appropriate for a “standard” preschool or a “therapeutic” preschool. It's a good idea to explore some differences in choosing a preschool or a therapeutic preschool for your youngster, as there are several distinctions that separate these two early learning options. Ratios In Illinois, preschools and daycares are mandated to follow predetermined adult-to-child ratio guidelines. Most stick to these minimum recommendations, which is a great question to inquire about when doing your research! These ratios are as follows: • For 2-year-olds a 1:8 ratio, with a maximum group size of 16 • For 3- to 5-year-olds, 1:10 ratio, with a maximum group size of 20 • For children 5 and above, 1:20, with a maximum group size of 30 In a therapeutic preschool setting, most classrooms are much smaller than the recommended maximums. Ratios are also much lower. A typical therapeutic preschool has a class size of 6-8 children, with ratios of adult support anywhere from 1:1 to 1:3. [Related: Preschool vs pre-k: What's the difference?] Therapy If your child receives speech, feeding, occupational, physical and/or behavioral therapy, a therapeutic preschool might be the way to go. This environment has these specialized therapists guiding interventions, providing individual therapy sessions, and helping to generalize different skills among peers. For example, a speech therapist may work individually with a child on answering questions or forming multiple word responses, and then bring the child back to the classroom to practice this new skill with their friends. Naps Here’s where therapeutic preschools may fall short. Therapeutic preschools are very therapy driven and most do not allow for a 2-hour mid-day nap, as a preschool or daycare set up would offer. If your little one is a power napper, a full day program at a therapeutic preschool may not be the best option for them. Diapers Some Early Learning programs require enrolled children to be fully toilet trained. This can be a real limitation for some families who feel their children are ready for the social and emotional benefits of preschool, but are not quite ready to spend the day in undies. At a therapeutic preschool, there are potty training programs implemented with each child, as this is a skill most are able to work on because of the low teacher to student ratios they maintain. Communication Both a preschool and a therapeutic preschool likely offer a lot of great communication options between the teachers and families. Notes going home, apps to receive updates, and face to face interactions help parents feel in touch and in the know about the day to day events with their children. However, if your child’s communication seems to be behind their age-matched peers, this can be a high frustration level for many toddlers who have a good understanding of what’s being discussed, but aren’t quite able to get their thoughts and feelings out effectively yet. A preschool classroom can be a frustrating experience when there are challenges expressing your wants and needs, or advocating for yourself. Important questions to consider: Is my child easy to understand? Can they ask for help when they need it? Are they able to speak up to advocate for themselves? Am I the only one who can understand my child? Reflecting on some of these questions may help lead you to the proper enrollment for your child. Enrollment Every child can be assessed and receive an IEP (individualized educational plan) at age three in order to have recommendations for placement at a CPS preschool. But did you know that your IEP is good for three years, and you are not required to join a CPS preschool at that time? Students in Illinois are not even required by law to attend kindergarten; however, they must be enrolled in either a home schooling program or a school district by age 6. Therefore, many families opt to pause enrollment from CPS to join a therapeutic preschool and reap the benefits of intensive therapeutic intervention, low student to teacher ratios, and engaging social and peer interactions. But don’t worry: Whether they graduate from preschool or therapeutic preschool, they can still join their peers in either a kindergarten or first grade classroom when they are ready! Making a Switch There are a handful of preschools in Chicago that enroll in the fall for the entirety of the year. Some have more strict guidelines on classroom placement based on birth date and ability level. However, many allow for enrollment throughout the school year, depending on birth date, availability and current ratios in their classrooms. Most therapeutic preschools enroll throughout the entire school year, and base these enrollments on the needs of the children and their families. So, if you are on the fence about what is most appropriate for your child, ask about enrollment commitments or cancellation fees, should you opt to enroll in a more therapeutic setting later in the year. Having this option may make enrollment in either program an easier commitment. Regardless of what you choose for your child, you want this early learning experience to be positive for everyone involved. Ask lots of questions, explore every option, and don’t limit yourself to only your neighborhood school. There may be a better fit for your child and their developmental needs that can get them well prepared to be independent little learners! Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
  12. Preparing for preschool can seem like an overwhelming process. Although there are many different preschools in Chicago, there are some common elements to preschool that every parent needs to consider. In this intimate recorded live discussion, preschool experts will discuss the logistics of preschool and answer your questions. You will walk away from this discussion knowing: 1. What to expect the first week of preschool 2. What to bring the first day, when to expect a phone call from the teacher, and more 3. How to plan for the entire year such as celebrating birthdays at school, field trips, and more A parent Q&A followed this discussion from our esteemed preschool school panel, which consisted of: The Ancona School Black Bear Academy Florence G. Heller JCC Near North Montessori School Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor The Ancona School
  13. until
    Preparing for preschool can seem like an overwhelming process. Although there are many different preschools in Chicago, there are some common elements to preschool that every parent needs to consider. In this intimate live discussion, preschool experts will discuss the logistics of preschool and answer your questions. You will walk away from this discussion knowing: 1. What to expect the first week of preschool 2. What to bring the first day, when to expect a phone call from the teacher, and more 3. How to plan for the entire year such as celebrating birthdays at school, field trips, and more There will be time for Q&A at the end! Our esteemed preschool school panel consists of: The Ancona School Black Bear Academy Florence G. Heller JCC Near North Montessori School Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor The Ancona School Please email Amy Johnson at amy@npnparents.org with any questions.
  14. Starting preschool is a big deal for both parents and children. From separation anxiety to making new friends to learning new skills, there is a lot to consider and prepare for. Take this opportunity to learn from experts about how to make this a smooth and happy transition for everyone in your family. Preschool experts will discuss how to prepare for the first day of preschool and beyond, how to handle separation anxiety and some things parents and children can look forward to during these special years. You will walk away from this discussion with the following: 1. How to prepare your child for preschool 2. How to handle separation anxiety on the first day and beyond 3. What to expect on the first day Thank you to our preschool panelists: Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph School, Ancona School, Lycée Français de Chicago, Park West Co-Op Nursery School A special thank you to our Presenting Sponsor Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph School
  15. until
    Starting preschool is a big deal for both parents and children. From separation anxiety to making new friends to learning new skills, there is a lot to consider and prepare for. Take this opportunity to learn from experts about how to make this a smooth and happy transition for everyone in your family. In this intimate live discussion, preschool experts will discuss how to prepare for the first day of preschool and beyond, how to handle separation anxiety and some things parents and children can look forward to during these special years You will walk away from this discussion with the following: 1. How to prepare your child for preschool 2. How to handle separation anxiety on the first day and beyond 3. What to expect on the first day Plus our experts will help you prepare yourself for the first day too, and there will be time for Q & A at the end! Our preschool panel consists of: Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph School Ancona School Lycée Français de Chicago Park West Co-Op Nursery School Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph School Email Meredith Marzano at mmarzano@npnparents.org with questions.
  16. This NPN Live at Lunch panel series is a 30 minute preschool panel discussion followed by a 15 minute Q&A about what to look for in a preschool. We hope that you will walk away from this discussion with three things: *The signs of an organized, safe, happy, and enriching preschool program * A better idea of what is most important to you when it comes to preschool * How to ask questions that will help you determine if a program is a good fit for your family
  17. This NPN Live at Lunch panel series is a 30-minute preschool panel discussion followed by a 10-minute Q&A about applying to preschool. We hope that you will walk away from this discussion with two things: * An understanding of components of the application process and how to apply * Answers to common questions that parents have about this process
  18. While Chicago is replete with hundreds of school choices ranging from public options (open enrollment, magnet, selective enrollment) to private religious and independent options, all schools will require some forethought in planning except one school into which you are automatically accepted and there is never a deadline: your assigned neighborhood Chicago Public School. Each Chicago address is guaranteed an assigned neighborhood elementary (K-8th grade) and high school (9th–12th grade) that allows for immediate enrollment any time of year. Find your assigned school. All other schools (including other neighborhood schools) can be viable options for families but typically do require at least an application to be filled out and, in the case of private schools, can require a lengthy, multi-step process that begins one year before your child will start the program. Some private schools do have rolling admissions, but most schools start their application processes one year prior to enrolling. The key for families is to be prepared and not to miss their window of opportunity, with the “entry year” (i.e., age or grade a program starts) of a school typically being the time when most spots may be available. Most Chicago schools also have a fairly strict cutoff date of Sept. 1, so if a school accepts students who are 3 by September 1, you should apply the fall when your child is 2 by Sept. 1. With the exception of Suder and Drummond (both start at 3 years old) and Inter-American (starts at 4 years old), CPS schools start in kindergarten, when your child is 5 by Sept. 1. Private elementary schools typically start at 3 or 4 years-old. While Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have a centralized application portal (www.go.cps.edu) with a set open and closing date for applications (typically the 1st Monday in October to the 2nd Friday in December), private schools have varying application deadlines that can start in late August and end in February. Be sure to check with each private school to determine application requirements and deadlines. Public schools may offer tours and open houses, but attendance is not a requirement for admissions. Their applications are also straightforward with one for up to 20 non-selective programs and another for up to six selective (test-based) programs. Private schools, however, typically do require participation in a coffee/tour, as well as require a playdate or shadow day, parent interviews, and recommendations. While some private schools share online documents (via Ravenna or similar online platforms), each has its own application requirements and deadlines, so it’s important to keep track along every step. Whichever schools or programs you are interested in, the key is to be ready to apply by understanding the timeline. It really is a process that requires at least a year foresight so we recommend families of any age visit NPN’s Preschool & Elementary School Fair to ask about entry years and find the open house dates and deadlines for each school they are interested in. Updated Spring 2021
  19. Guest

    Preschool Philosophies

    Thinking about preschool for your toddler but don't know where to start? Watch this informative discussion about the different preschool philosophies featuring expert panelists from preschools across the city. Topics include: Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia and other philosophies How to decide if these philosophies or others are a good fit for your child How preschool works during the pandemic Participating schools: Bennett Day School British International School of Chicago, South Loop Cardinal Bernardin Montessori Academy Mary Meyer School Urban Prairie Waldorf School Thank you to our presenting sponsor British International School of Chicago, South Loop.
  20. Overwhelmed by school options in the city? Chicago parents have many choices (and questions!) when it comes to private preschools & elementary schools. How do you know which school will be the right fit for your child? How will you fit in as a parent? How can you put your best foot forward during the application process? What do you want to know about financial aid but are afraid to ask? How do you find a "right-fit" school during a pandemic? Join us for an intimate panel discussion with admissions directors from some of the city's most sought-after private schools. We'll talk about different educational environments, how to find the best fit for your child and family, managing the application process, financial aid, school during a pandemic, and much more. Schools represented on the panel include: Bennett Day School Daystar Academy Latin School of Chicago Near North Montessori University of Chicago Laboratory School Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Bennett Day School.
  21. Guest

    Preschool Primer

    This session is for anyone who wants to learn when to start the preschool search, what to look for in a preschool, the various types of preschools available, how to determine "school fit" for a 2-year-old, when you should think about making a change, the difference between public and private preK, Chicago's universal preK initiative, and how to best prepare your child for preschool. When discussing preschool programs, this session will focus mainly on private preschool options and touch only briefly on public options. Recorded on 9-14-2020 for the NPN School Fair; all information is current through then.
  22. If you have ever felt confusion about Chicago’s public preschool admissions, procedures and offerings, you are not alone. The process and nomenclature have changed each year, with various names, programs and application processes to keep track of. Some programs were applied to via the GoCPS portal and others were via a city of Chicago portal. This year, however, CPS and Chicago are working together to streamline their programs and finally bring about Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) for all Chicago children who turn 4 years old on or before 9/1/22. While still called Chicago Early Learning, the portal is now under CPS’s umbrella and, starting at 9am on April 19, 2022, the online application will open. While details are still being finalized, these are some changes to expect: [Related: How to apply for CPS preschools] School-based full-day (7 hours/day) sites are prioritized for 4-year-olds; 3-year-olds may be offered half-day programs in community-based sites Families can apply for up to 5 program sites (must rank your order of preference) “Priority Points” will be given to families as follows: those with income or learning needs, siblings, neighborhood school and within a 1.5 mile proximity of a preschool site There will be an “initial application period” open for about a month, so applications are not first come, first serve until after that period closes in mid-May After first-round offers are given in May, the next rounds will be offered on a rolling basis with 24-hour notification starting in June Application portal is via Schoolmint (same platform as GoCPS) but will not require obtaining a CPS Student ID prior to applying Most families should get one of their top 5 choices Offers are verified through a Family Resource Center or directly at a school or community-based site, with proof of income, address and birth certificate. Waitlists will be offered for any programs ranked above the offered choice. Summer transition programs are planned ("Preview to PK" and "Kickoff to Kindergarten") with more information released after offers are sent. [Related: Preschool vs. Pre-K: What's the difference?] Read more at Chicago Early Learning & UPK FAQs or call the CEL Hotline: (312) 229-1690. While preschool is not required in Illinois, many families do try to have their children enrolled in some programs for socialization or kindergarten readiness. For 4-year-olds, CPS will house their preschool programs in school facilities with space or in regional “Early Learning Centers,” and applications are available through Chicago Early Learning. The portal also can help families of 3-year-olds find community-based host sites. CPS still has two tuition-free magnet Montessori-based elementary programs that begin at age 3 (Suder and Drummond) where the student can stay until 8th grade. These are the only preschool programs you apply to via the go.cps.edu portal. All other free preschool options should be applied to via the Chicago Early Learning web portal, opening April 19, 2022. Tuition-based pre-K will also no longer be offered and had already dwindled substantially over the years. In addition, changes to GoCPS’s elementary process for 2023–2024 applications are being proposed to give “priority points” for students to continue from their preschool and stay there for kindergarten. Starting this October, Chicago Early Learning 4-year-old students enrolled at a CPS school site for preschool can apply to continue at that school for kindergarten via the GoCPS portal. They will be given priority before out-of-boundary, unaffiliated new students are offered spots. With Universal Pre-K, the goal is to essentially start a student’s free public school journey at age 4 in preschool instead of 5 in kindergarten. With the newest Chicago Early Learning application, the first steps of that goal are closer to becoming a reality. Updated spring 2022
  23. Guest

    CPS Preschools Decoded

    Learn the differences between CPS magnet preschools, tuition-based preschools and Chicago Early Learning preschools. Get insight on finding the right preschool setting for your little one. This hour-long video covers the various types of programs available, factors to consider, application processes, and how to time your search to find the best preschool option to meet your family’s needs.
  24. As summer nears, families across Chicago inevitably start to ask themselves if their child should go to preschool or pre-kindergarten. If they are currently enrolled in an early childhood program, they start to wonder if they need to find a pre-kindergarten program when their child turns three, leaving their current program even if they are happy there. In a city full of early childhood options, it’s no surprise that families find themselves asking this question as they start to think about where they would like to send their 3- or 4-year-olds for early education experiences. The number of options can make the decision an overwhelming task! But it’s important to note that when it comes to preschool and pre-kindergarten in Chicago, the two are used interchangeably for programs that provide care and education prior to the start of kindergarten. [Related: Play all day? That's exactly what your preschooler should be doing] What’s the difference? The biggest difference in these labels is actually a political one. The national conversation around universal pre-k centers around the idea that all 4-year-olds should have an opportunity to participate in early childhood programs. The term pre-k is used to define the year prior to kindergarten, while preschool is the term used to define all early learning programs from birth to age five. In Chicago, the differences between a program that refers to itself as a preschool and a program that refers to itself as a pre-kindergarten are rooted in the program’s individual philosophy, marketing techniques, and the image the program wants to present to families. What are parents really asking when they are asking about preschool or pre-k? I’ve discovered over the years that when families ask if their child should attend preschool or pre-k, what they are really asking is which program will best prepare their children for kindergarten. That answer isn’t as simple since each family needs to take into account their own ideas about early childhood education, their child’s personality, and what program makes the most sense logistically for their family. [Related: Chicago Preschool Primer (members-only video)] What questions should families be asking if not “preschool or pre-K”? Do we need an early learning program that also provides full daycare? Do we want our child to attend an independent school that may start admissions at 3 or 4 years instead of kindergarten? Does it make more sense for our family to have our youngest child attend a CPS preschool program in the same school as our older children? What do we want our child’s early learning experience to be? For example, do we want a program that promotes outdoor education, or is rooted in the arts or the sciences, or is centered on community and learning to be a good citizen? If there isn’t a difference between preschool and pre-k, what should families look for in an early learning setting? Is the program clearly able to articulate their philosophy, curriculum, and child development? Do the teachers and administrators have training in early childhood education and child development? Do the classrooms focus on the development of the child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth?
  25. As you are researching preschools for your little one and weighing your options, did you know that Chicago Public Schools offers many part-time and full-day, school-based and affordable preschool programs at select CPS schools across the city? Perhaps more importantly, if you thought you missed the preschool application boat for next fall, it’s not too late to apply for a seat in this program for the 2022-2023 school year. It’s called Chicago Early Learning (CEL), formerly known as “Ready To Learn” or “Preschool for All.” The application window typically opens in April, and will stay open until seats are filled. Unlike CPS’s full-time, tuition-based pre-K (TBPK), which requires you to apply directly with each school for admission, the CEL program’s application process is centralized with application sites located throughout the city and tuition is based on a sliding scale. You can apply online at www.chicagoearlylearning.org and find out quickly if you have a spot or will be put on a waitlist. Here are a few more details about Chicago Early Learning: Programs are either half-day (2.5 – 3 hours) with morning and/or afternoon sessions available at each school, or full-day (7 hours, which CPS has been increasingly adding) options, so be sure to filter your search. (Universal PreK for 4-year-olds is gradually being implemented.) Programs offer a well-rounded and evidenced-based curriculum with assessments to ensure students are on track for kindergarten. Tuition is on a sliding scale based on household income. Families can search for and review sites with the Find & Compare online tool, which can filter by hours, duration and program feature. Out of 600 school and community-based programs, each child may apply up to 2 sites but can only be accepted to one. Separate applications for each child can be made under a family’s account, but CPS cannot guarantee that siblings will be placed together. Chicago Early Learning does not include private schools, magnet, Montessori or tuition-based schools. Priority is given to 4-year-olds for CPS based programs, while 3-year-olds will have community-based program sites to choose from. How to apply: All Chicago residents, regardless of income, are welcome to apply for a seat to any CEL program location. Families can apply online, in person at one of several Family Resource Centers, or by phone at 312-229-1690. When applying online, there are 3 steps: 1) create an account, 2) fill in family employment and income info, child’s info and rank up to 2 program choices, and 3) if selected, you will be instructed how to verify your child’s spot. Verification requirements for CEL include: Proof of child’s age (children must be 3 or 4 years old and potty trained by September 1 of the entry school year), proof of residency, and proof of current income of parent(s) or guardian(s) of child. The City of Chicago prioritizes eligibility for these programs based on factors such as age, income, and child or family history. Starting in June, families may be notified immediately if they are placed in a program or if they will be put on a waitlist. If a family is offered a spot to their top-ranked school, they will not be placed on a waitlist for their second-ranked school. Families have up to 2 weeks to “verify” placement by visiting a Family Resource Center. After verification, the final step is to enroll your child at the preschool site. Many parents across the city find the Chicago Early Learning preschool program not only affordable and convenient, but also a great way to transition children into a preschool curriculum with the flexibility of a shorter school day, if available, or full-day options nearby. With many CEL programs housed in neighborhood and/or magnet schools, they're also a good way to help you determine whether a particular CPS school (or public school, in general) is a good fit for your child and your family. These programs do not guarantee admission to the participating school’s elementary program, however, unless that school is your assigned neighborhood school. Visit www.chicagoearlylearning.org for more information about the program and to access a complete list of program locations and application sites. Helpful FAQs can be found here. Updated winter 2022

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