Early Childhood Services

Early Childhood Services


The Early Childhood Department is responsible for all District programming for children under kindergarten age.  They act as the link between Early Intervention Services and the school-based kindergarten programs.  The Early Childhood Department serves our community through extensive screening processes, special education programming, general education (community) preschool programming, programming for students at-risk, and they operate an Extended School Year program for students with disabilities.

Program options in District 303 are open to three to five year old children who reside within the District 303 school boundaries.  Children who are 5 years old by September 1, 2017 and eligible for kindergarten are not eligible for enrollment in Early Childhood programs.

Click here for the Early Childhood Staff Directory.

Program Information Daily Schedule Components Communication with Families
Curriculum/Assessment Staff Qualifications/Ratio

Click here to view the registration page. 


Program Information

District 303 Early Childhood program is a multi-aged program that provides experiences for young children ages three through five who have identified disabilities, considered at-risk, and typically developing.  ALL children have an opportunity to play and learn together in an accepting and engaging environment.  Consistent with D303's philosophy, the Preschool serves the needs of all children utilizing a developmentally-appropriate approach to instruction.  

The purpose of our program is to assist families in meeting the developomental needs of children, to promote the educational and social/emotional growth of children, and to provide a safe, secure and nurturing classroom environment.  The program emphasizes the process of growth through active, hands on experiences. The program provides high quality enrichment experiences for our students, as well as activities and educational opportunites for parents and families throughout the year. 

  • Special Education
    • The Early Childhood Special Education program serves children determined to be eligible for services through an evaluation process and IEP.  These children are experiencing difficulty in one or more areas and have been identified as having a disability.  
  • Preschool For All
    • Preschool for All serves children who are screened and identified as not progressing at a rate anticipated for potential success in kindergarten due to one or more at-risk variables.  At-risk factors can include delays identified on screening instruments in the area of intellectual processing, academics, speech/communication, social-emotional development, and/or motor development.  In addition, family environmental factors such as low income, homeless, parent/sibling with disability, parent education level, family structure, non-English speaking household, and others are also considered when identifying at-risk eligibility.
  • Community Preschool Program Registration
    • The Community Preschool program serves children who are progressing at a rate typical for their age.  The tuition cost for the program is $285 per month.  A $100 annual registration and materials fee is also required.  Community Unit School District 303 conducts an on-line registration process for our tuition-based preschool classes operating out of Fox Ridge, Ferson Creek and Norton Creek Elementary Schools as spaces are available.  If openings are still available, children can be enrolled at any time during the school year.  Visit the District 303 Registration page for more information.   Transportation is not available to and from the program.  Parents/Caregivers will provide transportation to and from school daily.

Call the Early Childhood office at 331-228-4834 for more information.

Jennifer Mursu - Associate Director for Early Childhood
Linda Valentine - Administrative Assistant

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Curriculum/Assessment

The classroom is a structured play-based enviornment where children are engaged in developmentally appropriate activities aligned with Creative Curriculum Gold Objectives for Development and the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards. Children's skills in all areas of development are monitored throughout the school year using Teaching Strategies Gold assessment process and progress reports go out to parents three times per year.

Creative Curriculum 

St. Charles Early Childhood program uses the Creative Curriculum as the framework for the preschool program. This is a developmentally appropriate curriculum that is accepted by The National Association of Education for Young Children. A variety of active and quiet work/play centers are provided so children can make choices, create, and interact with peers within their environment. The materials used provide concrete experiences and are adaptable to the many different play and developmental levels of children. The teachers also develop "Units of Study" that thematically complement the children, their cultures, and the community.  Creative Curriculum - Teaching Strategies (link)

Second Step 

The Second Step early learning program teaches skills to build self-regulation and social-emotional competence, both important for kindergarten readiness and school and life success. Children learn and practice vital skills for listening and paying attention, having empathy, managing emotions, building friendships, and solving problems with others. The Second Step program has been shown to reduce behavior problems, improve classroom climate by building feelings of inclusiveness and respect, and increase children's sense of confidence and responsibility. The program includes themes with short learning activities, visual supports, puppets, and songs. Second Step - Preschool (link) 

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Daily Schedule Components

Classes are in session 5 days/week Monday through Friday:  

A.M.     9:00-11:30
P.M.     12:30-3:00

Consistent daily learning schedules provide children with a balance of experiences, including large/small group activities, indoor/outdoor play, and teacher directed/self-directed learning opportunities. While we remain flexible in our daily schedule to meet the needs and interests of our students, a typical routine generally includes:

Student Arrival: Includes individual greetings, hang coats, empty backpacks, folders, and library books, attendance, independent reading, and sign in activities.

Circle Time: Children sing songs and fingerplays, share views, complete attendance, talk about the day's activities and choices. Activities include: stories, dramatics, literacy, music, dance, and games.

Choice Time: One hour of uninterrupted child-initiated play at interest centers which include: blocks and floor toys, dramatic play, table toys/manipulatives/games, open-ended art center, science center library area, sensory/water table, writing table, and computers is provided daily. Teachers plan and integrate learner objectives/outcomes throughout play activities. Snack is incorporated during choice/center time. Children sit together for a self-serve snack. During this time children have opportunities to make requests, use self-help skills and practice conversation.

Clean Up: Children sort, categorize, and organize as they put away the materials.

Centers/Small Group: Children participate in small group, teacher-directed activities designed to meet each child's individual needs. Topics may include: graphs, charts, games, writing, communication, and academic skills.

Gross Motor: Children will participate in 20-30 minutes of gross motor activities such as playground equiment, balls, group games, etc. Gross motor will be used outside weather permitting. During inclement weather children will have indoor gross motor play. Children will play outside daily when the temperature is above 25 degrees with the wind chill.

Closing Activities: Class reviews activities from the day and document their work and play on their daily sheets. Children are encouraged to put on coats and backpacks independently.

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Staff Qualifications/Ratio:

All teachers have Bachelors and/or Masters degrees and hold an Illinois State Board of Education Professional Educator License with endorsements in Early Childhood Special Education/Special Education and English as a Second Language. Classroom Teaching Assistants hold ISBE Paraprofessional Licensure. Each classroom is staffed with a teacher and two teaching assistants. Program staff also include licensed speech and language pathologists, psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and a nurse to support students who may require identified supports and services. 

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Communication with Families:

Communication with families is a vital component of our program and facilitates a relationship with the classroom teacher, educational team and school staff. This may be accomplished through a variety of ways such as:

  • Parent/Teacher Conferences and/or IEP team meetings
  • Daily Notes
  • Monthly/Weekly Newsletters
  • Email/Phone calls
  • Family Enrichment and Parent Education Activities
  • Trimester goal updates (IEP students)
  • Trimester Teaching Strategies progress updates
  • Periodic family surveys to assist staff in meeting the needs of students/families

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