Posts filed under ‘Pre-School’

PreSchool Applications open March 2015


I got an email about preschool today. Does this mean the application process is JUST NOW opening up?

I’ve sort of lost track of (or never fully understood) how this all works with the new changes.  Feel free to discuss the process here.
Currently there are nearly 1,500 4-year old children in Chicago who qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program, but do not attend at least a half-day of pre-kindergarten.


CPS Opens Enrollment for Over 17,000 Early Learning Seats in School Year 15-16

Chicago: Ready to Learn! Continues to Expand in Third Year, Offering Equitable Access to High-Quality Early Learning Options for Families Citywide

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced today it has opened enrollment for more than 17,000 early childhood education seats for School Year 2015-2016. This is the third year of Chicago: Ready to Learn!, an initiative designed to bring high-quality early learning opportunities to every area of the city. Starting next school year, the program will expand to include 55 additional full-day classrooms serving 1,000 more students in neighborhoods across Chicago.

Parents of children who will be 3- or 4-years old by September 1, 2015 can access school-based early education opportunities by visiting, or one of 24 centralized application sites across the city.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel createdChicago: Ready to Learn! in 2013 by bringing CPS and the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) together to manage resources under one early education system. Chicago: Ready to Learn! coordinates early learning programs across the city, expanding access to school- and community-based early learning opportunities while improving the quality of early childhood programs.

“We know that the early years are critical to a child’s future success, which is why we have committed to creating a strong foundation that will benefit our students throughout their entire education,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “With the support of Mayor Emanuel and DFSS, we have expanded access to programming, while increasing program quality, so that all children arrive in Kindergarten ready to learn.”

Since Chicago: Ready to Learn! began, this joint effort has expanded DFSS and CPS’ early learning programs for 5,000 new children, while raising the quality of existing programs for 6,000 children with added wrap-around services, including intensive parent engagement, nursing services, and community partnerships.

Last fall, Mayor Emanuel closed the gap on pre-kindergarten education for 4-year old children in low-income families. Currently there are nearly 1,500 4-year old children in Chicago who qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program, but do not attend at least a half-day of pre-kindergarten. Beginning in School Year 2015-2016, CPS will provide pre-k education to these students through capital investments from the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois as well as Social Impact Bonds, supporting programs at neighborhood schools and new community based programs. Since Mayor Emanuel took office in 2011, he has steadily expanded early learning programming through a $36 million investment in the City’s budget.

Research indicates that high-quality early childhood programs boost academic skills, foster independence, and instill a lifelong love of learning. Further, children who attend these high-quality early childhood programs are 29 percent more likely to graduate from high school and earn a 33 percent higher salary on average. In addition to the academic benefits, early childhood programs connect children with wrap-around services like regular medical care, which are proven indicators of better student attendance and academic performance throughout the year.

Applications for CPS school-based early childhood programs can be accessed at, a local elementary school, or in the 24 application sites throughout the city. All applications must be submitted in person at one of the application sites Monday through Friday at scheduled times, or at local elementary schools on designated days. Proof of residency, income and the child’s age will be required with all applications, due no later than May 1, 2015.

March 4, 2015 at 7:39 am 43 comments

CPS PreK Application Time 2014 (for school year 2014/15)


Thanks for the alert that the PreK application period is now open for the half-day programs.

These programs are free or fee-based, depending on your household income.

You can apply to any of the programs as not every school has a PreK program.

I am still a little unclear on the selection process.  Is it still uber-difficult to get in, now that it’s not free for everyone?  Are schools giving priority to neighborhood kids?


Chicago: Ready to Learn! Applications will be accepted for School Year 2014-2015 from March 3, 2014 – April 11, 2014.

To apply, please visit one of our centralized application sites.

If you are applying for a child who has a sibling already in a Chicago: Ready to Learn! program, and this sibling will be at the same school next year, the new applicant can apply under the sibling priority. Please see below for instructions.

Here are some of the key questions from the site below.

Any feedback on the programs this year?  For those who chose to send their child and pay the full rate, what are your thoughts on this?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I apply?

A. You may apply to a Chicago: Ready to Learn! program in person at an authorized application site or an authorized application event. For a list of these events, please call 312-229-1690. Paper applications will be available at the application sites or can be downloaded beforehand. Please note that income, residency, and proof of birth documents are required for all application submissions.

. What factors are taken into consideration when placing my child?

A. The Chicago: Ready to Learn! program takes a variety of factors into consideration when placing a child, such as a family’s income, a child’s age, housing type, sibling status, and other factors. For a comprehensive list of entrance priorities, please visit our programs section.

If my child was on the waiting list for the 2013-14 School Year, do I have to re-apply? Why?

A. Each year, all students are given equal opportunity to apply for seats at the upcoming grade level to which they are entering. Students who were placed on a waitlist for the 2013-2014 School Year must re-apply for entrance into a Chicago: Ready to Learn! program for 2014-2015. If your child is on a waitlist for this current school year, and you would like to find out more information about this or to check the status of availability for schools this year, contact 773-553-2010.

Do I need an appointment to apply at one of the application sites?

A. No, you do not need an appointment to apply at one of the application sites. Please visit our how to apply section for a listing of sites and hours of operation.

March 2, 2014 at 4:25 pm 49 comments

PreK Update – How’s it Going?


A parent wrote today to ask if I’d make a post about feedback on the re-vamped Pre-K program.

If you enrolled your child in CPS half-day PreK, how is it going so far?  The curriculum itself didn’t change but the enrollment and tuition process changed significantly this year.

Have the glitches been worked out now that 2 weeks of school have passed?

For those enrolled for the 2nd year, does anything seem different?

If you’re paying, does it seem like a worthwhile investment?

Anybody know of someone whose child is attending one of the new programs (ie those that were allowed to open in churches etc.)

On a side note, I passed a new PreK (private) that is opening in Lincoln Park and the sign said the school teachers “World Citizenship. Universal Values.  Leadership.”   Wow, quite ambitious for 3 year olds.   But we parents are suckers sometimes, no?







September 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm 93 comments

Pre-School for All – Surprise! New process for applying, starting TOMORROW!


Thanks to Christine Whitley for alerting me to this new PreK application process that starts tomorrow!  Wow.

This new central process for Pre-School for All will be in affect for all kids entering as 3 year olds next year.  Current 3 year olds in a program will have a guaranteed spot in their current program, but can still apply to others without losing their current placement.  Some key information below.  I can’t figure out how they select who gets in where.  Age? Location? At-risk-ness? Tier?  Lottery?  I don’t see that information anywhere.

Applications must be submitted IN PERSON at one of their special sites from April 3 – May 3.





THE PROGRAM IS NOW SLIDING SCALE BASED.  (I can’t find the calculator, but Christine reports that some says up to $400+/mo for top income households.)

More information and list of 2013-14 awardees coming soon.

This year, the Office of Early Childhood Education has a new application process  for preschool programs in Chicago Public Schools. Thirteen centralized Chicago: Ready to Learn! School-Based Preschool Application Sites will be open from April 3-May 3 to accept applications from families for the 2013-14 school year, and traveling teams of Application Representatives will be available at local elementary schools on designated days. Applications will only be accepted by Chicago: Ready to Learn! Application Representatives. The following links provide the information you need to apply for a school-based preschool program for the 2013-14 school year. Sites and schedules are for the application submission process only.

Application sites:

April 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm 310 comments

Back to the begining (A Pre-K post)


I was getting my hair cut this week (if you need someone near the North Center neighborhood who is great with thick and unruly hair, email me!)

My hairdresser has a daughter who just turned 2 and she’s starting the whole school investigation process, beginning at the pre-K level so she can apply this coming Fall.   In some ways it feels like I was doing that yesterday but it was (sniff sniff) 8 years ago!  That was when I first started asking my neighbors where they sent their kids and how the local schools were and I started getting the “no way” about CPS talk.  All the kids on my block went to different private schools (the exception being anyone who got a RGC/Classical/Magnet spot.)   At the time, you could also use the Tuition-based preK as an “in” for some of the desirable neighborhood schools.  (Not an option any more.)

So my hairdresser was asking about the CPS ore-K programs (PreSchool for All) and whether those were a good option or whether private preK is worth the money.  She’s full of that new-parent-of-a-toddler wide eyed enthusiasm about how each PreK might have a major impact on her child’s development.   Conversly, I am full of the older kid cynicism, sometimes wondering why I spent money on things like Wiggleworms, etc (as well as a total of $16K for a private PreK experience.  Oh, plus a $2,000 building fund.)

As you look back now, how important do you feel that the preK process was in your child’s development?  Was private PreK worth the money?  Do they really learn much in PreK?  Or is learning to be in a school setting the most important lesson they’re learning at ages 3-4.

I’m not even fully sure what’s going on with PreK in CPS right now.  Very quietly this past year it was announced that more placed (such as charter schools, churches, etc) could apply to host PreSchool for All.  And I believe that existing CPS programs may have had to re-apply to host them.  Christine Whitley who does consulting to help families determine their school options has asked me a few times, “How come nobody is talking about the PreK thing right now?”  Good question — I guess becuase there hasn’t been any announcement yet saying that something will definitely change?

So for new parents here (and my hairdresser in particular) what would you recommend as you look back on PreK and its role in your child’s education?  All I could come up with is that you need to tour a range of schools so you can see what’s out there and wait for a place/philosophy/vibe to kind of resonate with you, where you feel like it’s the right place for your child.   I remember feeling like the Montessori preK we chose was going to make a major impact on my son.  And now I’d kind of like that $18K back for his college fund….  But maybe it helped him get into the gifted program he tested into.  Maybe a more play-based PreK wouldn’t have done that.

March 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm 137 comments

Pre-School for All – How does one apply?

A reader writes in… (is that line from the old Roseanne RoseannaDanna SNL skit?)  (for those of you old enough to remember, that is.)

Anyhow, got this note today and I figured since it takes a village to figure out CPS, perhaps we can all join in to help this guy out…

I have a 4 1/2 and a 3 year old daughters and we live in the city and we are trying to figure out the CPS game. I was wondering if you had any ideas on how the free Pre-K for all enrollment works. I know is is based on income. However, it seems like there are more factors then just income. Also, I know that there are waiting lists at schools for spots. How would I go about making sure both my daughters got in at the same school and the same class? Any thoughts on how that would work?

Well, to start off, nobody knows how much longer Pre-K for all will be around.  Funding was retained this year and frankly I’m not quite sure why since CPS is so broke.  In the past, the free PreK (called State Pre-K) was used almost exclusively by families with kids who were considered “at risk” in some way.  That could be financial or developmental.  It was supposedly pretty easy to get your child in… for instance I was told that by having an only child I could convince CPS that he had socialability needs that needed addressing, etc.  But it wasn’t all that popular with families who didn’t have “at risk” kids. 

Once our pal Rod Blago instituted Pre-School for All (great idea, just no money to fund it, Rod!) it became the hottest ticket in town.  Who wouldn’t want 5-day a week free play-based PreK just steps from their home?  Suddenly the programs were overrun with applicants.  Depending on the neighborhood, many kids applying are not high risk at all, but they do qualify.   

Here is my understanding of the program:
-Kid who are at risk still get priority (financial or physical or mental etc)
-The principals seem to decide how to prioritize who gets in and there doesn’t seem to be an official CPS policy (for instance some give neighborhood kids priority, some give 4-year-olds priority.)
-Much of it depends on how many classes the school has.  My neighborhood school has 2 classes.  My son’s school has 6 classes.  Big difference.
-Not every school has PKFA.  For instance Bell does not have room for it.
-Living in a neighborhood does not in any way guarantee you a spot in the local PKFA as it does for Kindergarten.  (Which has been a source of apparent rage in many neighborhoods.)

And here are some of the challenges:
– Because there are so many applicants chomping at the bit, the principal is up against a wall to figure out who gets the spots.  Early.  However in theory they should be saving some spots for kids who are truly at risk but come in to the school to register in the summer.   Those are the kids who really NEED those preK spots.  But I’m not sure whether principals ARE indeed saving spots.  Or how they would know how many to save. 
-Principals have to decide whether to prioritize siblings of kids who may live out of district.  Many schools have kids in older grades who’re out of district and of course the parents want all the kids at the same school.  That causes problems.

How it usually works:
As far as I can tell, there is a bit of anarchy here.  Each school does it differently and begins to take applications for the following school year at some point in the spring of the previous year.  The principal then has their pool of applicants and has to decide who gets the spots.  Some may do first come/first served.  Others may use their priority scheme.     I don’t *think* there is any CPS standard for this.  And parents can apply to as many as they want.

So, answer the freakin’ question already, lady! (Ok, ok!)
For whatever school/s you’re targeting, I would get in there about a week after school starts (give them a week to settle down or they’ll hate you for bothering them) and inquire as to their specific process of admission.  Keep asking until you get a firm answer (this could take a few tries and you might even get different answers!)  Confirm your knowledge with other parents to up the chance that you have correct information.  Get your application in as soon as they say you can.  confirm that they have your application in the right pile/place/folder.   Continue to “maintain a dialogue” (nice way of saying staying on their butt) to let them know of your interst in a nice, flattering way.  Ask whether they have a priorty scheme and what it is to determine whether your 3yo has a shot at getting in (so you know whether to have back-up.)  Continue to monitor the waiting list progress without being a pain (since you’ll have to suck up to get both kids in the same class.)  Wait until next year’s budget comes out to determine whether PKFA will exist next year.  Ponder whether you should apply to any private schools just in case.

God, this is getting comical.  (And long.)
However I think it might be an accurate representation.  I haven’t actually gone through the process though.

Can anyone else help me out here?  Does your school do it differently?  Any tips for this guy?

And as Roseanne RosannaDanna (played by Gilda Radner) would end her little speech, “It’s always something… “

July 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm 24 comments

The Update on Pre-School for All

So it sounds like the Pre-School for All program has been saved for the upcoming school year.  At least anecdotely.  I don’t see any official news on the CPS website ( or in the Trib or the Sun Times.

So I guess the tactic is “no news is good news.”  I know my neighborhood school WILL be offering the Pre-School for All progam this year, but to my dismay did not inform parents of any news along the way.  I’m sure some parents were aware that the program was at risk of being axed while others remained in ignorant bliss.   According to our principal CPS allegedly advised schools not to mention the whole situation to parents to avoid starting a frenzy (or more specificially causing parents to seek other options.)

So crisis has been avoided a mere 3 weeks before school starts and the free program will continue as planned.    From what I’ve read about the CPS budget crisis I have to assume that the program will be in jeopardy once again for the 2010/2011 school year.  I just hope the state and CPS can make it’s decision a little SOONER!

(Just to be sure, I’d call the school where your child is enrolled to inquire.  At the very least it lets them know that parents want information.)

August 13, 2009 at 10:27 am 3 comments

Older Posts




Blog Stats

  • 6,163,855 hits