Early Childhood & Pre-K Programming
RTSD26 offers a variety of early childhood programs for children ages 3 to 5 who reside within district boundaries. These include:
- Blended pre-k for students with and without disabilities, located at Prairie Trails
- Instructional pre-k for students with disabilities, located at Prairie Trails or Miner School
- Early Childhood Developmental Enrichment Center (ECDEC) pre-k for students who meet certain risk factors, housed at Euclid School
Both the blended and instructional pre-k programs at Prairie Trails use an integrated approach for students with and without disabilities. The programs offer a curriculum based on the Illinois Early Learning Standards and is staffed by early childhood special education teachers with ESL endorsements, classroom assistants, and rotating related service providers (speech-language therapist, school social worker, occupational therapist, and physical therapist). Typically developing students benefit from the wide range of activities that focus on emergent literacy and kindergarten readiness. Classrooms utilize the HighScope and Heggerty curricula as well as the Structured Teach framework.
Prairie Trails Pre-K Days & Hours
- Morning Session: 9:00-11:30 AM
- Afternoon Session: 1:00-3:30 PM
- Classes meet four days per week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday
- There are no classes on Thursday
The Early Childhood Development Enrichment Center (ECDEC), housed at Euclid School, serves RTSD26 students through a state funded grant. ECDEC provides high-quality, engaging classroom instruction for students who may be considered “at-risk” in areas such as: poverty level, family structure, English proficiency, and other factors. ECDEC classes meet five days per week with morning and afternoon sessions.
CAN ANY CHILD WITHIN THE DISTRICT BOUNDARIES ATTEND THESE PROGRAMS?
Any child who lives within RTSD26 boundaries may be eligible for our programming. However, being a district resident does not result in automatically being eligible. Children ages 3 to 5 who live in the district boundaries may attend either through a lottery process (typically developing children/tuition-based blended pre-k program) OR by qualifying through a developmental screening for at-risk programming or special education services.
WHAT IS AT RISK PROGRAMMING?
“At-risk programming” refers to programming for those students who do not have a disability, but should be in a high-quality pre-k program in order to prevent future academic, social-emotional, or behavioral concerns from developing. Children qualify for this type of programming by participating in a developmental screening and meet specific criteria. ECDEC serves as RTSD26’s at-risk program.
IF MY CHILD IS NOT ELIGIBLE TO ATTEND PRE-K PROGRAMMING THROUGH THE DISTRICT, WHAT OTHER OPTIONS DO I HAVE?
Some families access pre-k programming by enrolling their children in park district preschool programs or in area faith-based preschool programs. These are not affiliated with RTSD26.
DO YOU PROVIDE BEFORE OR AFTER CARE FOR PRE-K STUDENTS?
No. Before and after care is not provided for our pre-k age students. We do have many children who attend our half-day programs, and then attend a daycare setting (paid for by the family) for the remainder of their day.
IS TRANSPORTATION PROVIDED?
Yes, transportation is available for students who attend RTSD26 pre-k programs, except ECDEC. There is a transportation fee unless special transportation is part of a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). If a child’s daycare is within district boundaries, transportation to or from that location can be arranged. An adult must be available to buckle/unbuckle the student. There is NO transportation for students living within .5 miles from school (unless residing in hazardous zone or requiring special transportation).
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT MY CHILD’S DEVELOPMENT?
Please contact Prairie Trails for a developmental screening appointment - 224-265-9900. Your child must be at least 3 years old at the time of screening. If you are unsure if your child is developing appropriately, please consult with your child's pediatrician. Click here for developmental milestones from the CDC.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A SCREENING?
The purpose of a screening is to identify children who have disabilities and/or are at risk for academic and/or social-emotional difficulties in the future.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING MY CHILD’S SCREENING?
Once a screening appointment is made, you will receive a packet of information in the mail. All completed forms, child’s birth certificate, and 2 proofs of residency must be provided prior to your child’s screening appointment. A checklist is included in the packet to help you.
Screening appointments are located at Prairie Trails. The following areas of development will be assessed by a team of early childhood specialists: hearing, vision, basic concept development, language development, fine and gross motor development, and social development. You will be notified of the results prior to leaving the screening.
Screening appointments are held on Thursdays at either 9:30 AM or 12:30 PM, once per month, September through April. Appointments can take up to 2 hours. A parent/guardian must stay for the entire appointment. There is no childcare for younger siblings; please make alternate childcare arrangements if possible. Please let us know if an interpreter is needed.
IF I DON’T HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT MY CHILD, WHAT OPTIONS DO I HAVE?
Typically developing children can attend the blended pre-k program, located at Prairie Trails. This is tuition-based with a limited number of openings, mostly in the afternoon session (1:00-3:30 PM). A lottery is held to fill these openings. Tuition is $2,700.00 per year plus a $75.00 snack fee. Payments may be spread over 10 months.
WHO CAN I CONTACT WITH ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS?
Please contact Amy Veytsman, Prairie Trails Principal, 224-265-9900 or email@example.com.