Early Childhood Education

How prevalent are early childhood programs in the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic schools?

The Archdiocese of Chicago has a long history and rich tradition of providing excellent education in its Catholic schools beginning with early childhood. Today, one hundred percent of the elementary schools have kindergarten programs. Ninety-eight percent have preschools. To find an ECCE Program near you, please use our school locator.

Read more about the Catholic school difference in early childhood education.

How many students are enrolled in the Preschool and Kindergarten programs?

There are 15,000+ children attending our early childhood programs.

What types of early childhood programs do your schools provide?

Each school is able to structure their early childhood programs to meet the needs of their families and community. Our schools offer mixed-age programs (3- and 4-year-old children in the same classroom) or age separate groupings. Due to overwhelming demand and/or constraints of space,some preschools only accept 4-year-olds. The schools offer a variety of schedules - full day, half day, five days a week, two or three days a week, morning groups and/or afternoon groups. The early childhood programs also strive to meet the needs of young children and their families by providing before and/or after school care, hot lunch and breakfast programs. Check with the individual school to find out what type of early childhood program they offer.

How is quality ensured at your schools?

Each school, including the early childhood programs, goes through a rigorous evaluation process and is recognized by the Office of Catholic Schools and the Illinois State Board of Education. Our programs follow Illinois State Board of Education Early Learning Standards and Kindergarten Standards. Teachers have Bachelors degrees (many have Masters degrees) and state certification. Assistant teachers are provided and enrollment is limited to meet adult/child ratio and group size requirements. The learning environment meets nationally recognized criteria for high quality such as those set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Our schools follow comprehensive PreK-12 curricula, which include Fine Arts, Health, Language Arts, Mathematics, Physical Education, Religion, Science, and Social Studies.

What makes early childhood programs in Catholic schools unique?

Research and longitudinal studies have well documented that children who attend preschool are more likely to succeed in kindergarten and that participating in early childhood education provides academic and social benefits that last well beyond the early years. The Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools value early childhood education and advocate for high quality programs. When a child enters a preschool or kindergarten in a Catholic school, they become part of an established setting for learning. Our preschool and kindergarten classrooms are not just add-ons or separate programs. They are an integral part of the elementary school community and considered an important part of the learning continuum. Our schools provide safe and secure early childhood education in a loving, faith-based environment.

To find an ECCE Program near you, please use our school locator.

Early-Childhood Excellence Checklist

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