CPS Parent

Pre-School / Early Childhood Education Options

Even with Preschools there’s a few different options.  I started my focus here since my daughter’s only 15 months and it’s the first thing I need to worry about,  Right now she’s at day care, but it’d be great to have teachers who will be preparing my daughter for kindergarten (whatever someone can do to prepare a child for kindergarten…).

It would also be fantastic to save money by not having to send my daughter to daycare, but it doesn’t look like most of the options would work for us since we both work full-time jobs.  The early learning programs seem to be half day programs (someone correct me if I’m wrong).  The full day tuition programs cost $13,974 (more than I pay for daycare).  This leaves the magnet schools as the only real viable option for us if we can get into one.

And with these options, I’d still have to figure out what to do with her during the summer, but I’ve read that other parents work around this by signing their kids up for day camps and strategic planning out vacations during dead periods between camps and school.


Here are all the different Preschool options in case they fit your needs.  There are 4 different Pre-K options:

  1. Chicago Early Learning Programs
  2. Tuition- Based Preschool Programs
    • This may change if universal free full-day preschool goes into effect by ’21
  3. Child Parent Centers
  4. Selective Enrollment & Montessori

Here is what you need to know about the programs (most info from the CPS website w/ some additional tidbits I added in italics):

Chicago Early Learning Programs…

  • Have half day (2.5 to 3 hours long) and full day options.
  • Are school based.
  • Have a standardized curriculum: Creative Curriculum Literacy Approach is used in all classrooms, providing a research-based structure to support student growth and learning.
  • Are offered free of charge for children with special needs, children in temporary living situations, and income-eligible families.
  • May have a required fee based on the income of the parents or legal guardians. Use the calculator estimate your families co-pay.
  • At most you will pay $441  per month based on your gross monthly income (as of 9/9/18)
  • These programs can service children from birth to Pre-K

Tuition-Based Preschool Programs

  • Are offered to children ages 3 and 4 years old.
  • Are full day models that provide childcare in addition to preschool. (10 hr days from 7:30am-5:30pm) 
  • Are offered in a limited number of elementary schools. Registration for these programs occurs at the school building. View the Tuition-based Programs.
  • There are 10 schools that offer Preschool.  3 of the 10 are Magnet or Magnet Cluster Schools
  • As far as I can gather, placement into the school’s kindergarten is not guaranteed even if you enroll in the tuition-based preschool
  • For the ’18-’19 school year, you’re required to put down a non-refundable deposit of $700 to apply, but this is refunded if you child is not accepted
  • For the ’19-’19 school year, full year tuition is $13,947

Child Parent Centers

  • Focus on the needs of the entire family and emphasize the importance of continuity from preschool through 3rd Grade. View the Child Parent Center Programs.
  • “The Child-Parent Centers (CPC) program is an early childhood preschool model that emphasizes aligned education and services in high needs communities, for children from pre-kindergarten through the primary grades. The CPCs are a family centered program, focused on the needs of the students and their families to ensure their success in school and beyond. A hallmark of the CPC program is a collaborative team that includes the head teacher, parent resource teacher and the school community representative that aligns and coordinates services and education for students and their families. Additionally, the CPC program promotes aligned curriculum, intensive family supports and services, parent involvement and engagement, effective learning experiences, and a professional development system for teachers.”

Selective Enrollment & Montessori

4 Magnet Preschool Programs

  • Drummond Montessori Magnet School (three- and four-year-old program)
  • Inter-American Magnet School (four-year-old program only)
  • Mayer Magnet School (three- and four-year-old program)
  • Suder Magnet School (three- and four-year-old program)


Here are some helpful websites with more information about the Early Learning programs:



Find an Early Learning Program affiliated w/ the CPS servicing babies from birth to 5 years old: http://www.excelerateillinois.com/provider-search


Here are links to the tuition-based preschools:

Audubon Elementary

Burley Magnet Cluster School

Burr Elementary

Disney Magnet School

Disney II Magnet School

Hamilton Elementary

Nettlehorst School

Ravenswood Elementary (8am-6pm)

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