If you have applied to the CPS (Chicago Public Schools) free magnet pre-k options, we are all bitting our nails for the lottery results to be released. They have finally posted the dates of when we can expect the results. So we have about 3 weeks to go before we find out if we get a coveted spot!
However, we all know we can’t put all our eggs in one basket, and with all the private options available as of February each year, it is wise to have your Plan B in place even before you hear from your Plan A. So what does that mean? As any gal that loves options, there are plenty when it comes to Preschool, it’s just that all we hear is that it is so cutthroat and nobody likes to share what they have learned and where they are sending their kid, because they are fearful of losing their spot. This is not the case, there are TONS of affordable options all around town.
- Religiously Affiliated: There are many schools that are run or supported by the plethora of religious organizations in the city. Chicago is a big Catholic town and there are many Catholic school options all over. Now they do study the religion of the parent church, but it is typically in a tasteful way and they of course accept all religions to attend their school, you just have to be OK with your child being taught their beliefs. Here is a sampling of some popular schools on the North Side: St. Andrew School (Lakeview), St. Clement (Lincoln Park), Mt. Caramel (East Lakeview), St. Josephat (Lincoln Park), Cardinal Bernardin (West Lincoln Park), St. Mary of the Angels (Bucktown), St. Matthis (Lincoln Square), St. Ben’s (North Center), Anshe Emet Day School (East Lakeview). Typically the application dates open in February and close in April, but check the school website of your choice often.
- Private: Just as there are so many parochial school options, there is definitely a private option in your neighborhood, and probably within blocks from you. Because there are so many, I really like the website Private School Review that offers so many choices based on your zip code. This site will give you quick stats like average tuition costs, class sizes and class and extracurricular offerings.
- Public School Based: Chicago Public Schools also offers a very low cost or even free option at many schools. The new early learning Pre-K program was recently rolled out and starts this coming fall. There are half day options for 3 year olds and full day options for 4 year olds, and they are either free or on a very reasonable sliding scale. I’m still waiting for the application website to update, but here is the link so you can check back often and I’ll send an updated post reminder when it opens up. Neighborhood schools that have these low cost or free pre school options include Blaine, Jahn, Ravenswood, Nettlehorst, Prescott, Pulaski, and many more. Also, visit the CPS early childhood search page that is very helpful in finding a school near your neighborhood.
The best thing you can do is research first and then tour your top 3 favorites. Touring when school is in session is key. You want to be able to see the children in the classroom and how they interact with each other and with the teachers. This will give you the best feel for what you are looking for. Remember, this is preschool and our children will be fine. Getting a head start on learning and socialization is putting your best foot forward for your child.
If you have any positive experiences please comment and share below. I can’t wait to read them!
The Yeager Team: A Chicago Real Estate Family