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Preschool Information

Darien Public Schools District 61 provides preschool programs specifically designed to meet the needs of children between the ages of three and five.

Birth Through Three Screening

Darien 61 partners with Child and Family Connections to provide Early Intervention services. If you have a child between the ages of birth to age three and have concerns about their development, you are encouraged to call Child and Family Connections at 630-493-0400 or Mark DeLay School at 630-852-0200.  

Preschool Screening

Darien Public Schools District #61 offers developmental preschool screening for children between the ages of three through five that are suspected to have developmental delays or disabilities. Children are screened in five areas: vision, hearing, language development, fine and gross motor, and concept development. Children identified through the screening process may be referred for a full evaluation to determine special education eligibility and program needs. Children experiencing significant risk factors in their environment but not at risk for a disability may be eligible for the Preschool For All (PFA) blended preschool program.

Screening Dates for 2024-2025 
  • September 26, 2024
  • November 14, 2024 
  • February 20, 2025 
  • April 10, 2025

Please call Mark DeLay at 630-852-0200 for a screening appointment. Screening appointments must be made at least 2 weeks in advance of the screening date. 

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) Preschool Program

The Early Childhood Special Education Preschool Program is designed for children, ages 3-5, who are residents of the school district and are not yet eligible to enter kindergarten. Each class has a maximum of 10 students identified as having special education needs. There is one certified Early Childhood Teacher and two classroom aides for each class. In addition, a speech therapist works within the classroom to assist the students with language development, an occupational therapist works on fine motor development, and a physical therapist addresses the area of gross motor skills. Additionally, an early childhood psychologist provides support to the classroom and is available to consult with families as needed.

Eligibility is based upon either a referral for special education evaluation when it is believed the child may have a disability requiring special education services or as a result of screening completed at the school district indicating at-risk factors.

The program operates five days a week with children either attending a morning or afternoon session. 

Early Childhood Blended Program and Preschool For All (PFA) Program 

Darien 61 offers an Early Childhood Blended Preschool program at Mark DeLay School for residents of the district. The program serves students ages 3 through 5 within a positive, nurturing environment that fosters social, emotional, physical and cognitive growth and development. The curriculum is play-based and progressive with a focus on pre-readiness in literacy and numeracy. A limited number of tuition slots are available for this program. 

All students are screened before enrolling in the program. There are 3 ways to access the program:

  1. Students meet at-risk criteria through a developmental screening considering environmental, cultural, and socio-economic factors. These students will qualify for no-cost programming through a Preschool For All (PFA) grant.

  2. Students with IEPs may enroll in this program to meet their educational needs at no cost. 

  3. Students that do not meet at-risk criteria and do not have an IEP, may be offered a tuition-based slot. There is, however, a limited number of tuition slots available for the program. Tuition is $325 per month. 

The D61 Preschool program operates 5 days a week, students attend either the morning or afternoon session. Each class has a maximum of 20 students with no more than 6 of the students identified as having special education needs. There is one certified Early Childhood Teacher and two classroom aides for each class. In addition, a speech therapist works with the classroom to assist the students with language development, an occupational therapist works on fine motor development, and a physical therapist addresses the area of gross motor skills. Additionally, an early childhood psychologist provides support to the classroom and is available to consult with families as needed.

Please contact the Director of Special Services at the district office if you have any questions at 630-968-7505.

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