SCHOOLS | May 25, 2021
Ms. Taneka Freeman knew she wanted her son Romeo to attend Aldridge Elementary on Chicago’s Far South Side. As an Aldridge graduate, she has fond memories of all the sports—volleyball, basketball, and track—she competed in as an elementary school student. Some of the current staff, like Mr. Dean, the security guard, were there when she graduated in 2010.
And, despite the pandemic, she could not be happier with her decision to enroll Romeo in pre-k at Aldridge this year.
“This year has been going amazing for Romeo. He’s learned 10 sight words and knows how to count to 50 now,” she said. “Two weeks ago, he came home and showed me that he knew how to spell his first and last name.”
She attributes Romeo’s impressive academic growth to Aldridge’s teachers. He’s taught by a team of two—Ms. Dickerson and Ms. Magee—who Ms. Freeman describes as being like a second mother and an auntie to Romeo. The exceptional team is just one reason she’s planning to keep Romeo at the school for kindergarten and beyond.
“We as parents are supposed to be able to teach our kids the fundamentals, but we don’t have the same strengths as teachers,” she said. “Romeo always talks about what Ms. Dickerson has been teaching him, and Ms. Magee is always calling me to let me know how he is doing.”
Romeo’s pre-k classroom is filled with resources to help students build strong foundations in literacy and math through play. The pictures below highlight the comfortable nooks set up around the classroom where students can read a book or use their imagination with their favorite toys.
Experiencing remote learning with Romeo for the first part of the school year helped Ms. Freeman see the value of the classroom. At home, Romeo didn’t get as much attention as he does at Aldridge and had trouble focusing while using a screen to learn. Even though the transition was difficult at first because coming to school was new for him, Romeo is thriving now.
For other parents who are on the fence about enrolling their kids in pre-k because of the pandemic, Ms. Freeman wants them to know that a CPS school building is one of the safest places they can be.
“Aldridge supplies masks and hand sanitizer and the staff here does everything they can to keep students safe from COVID-19,” she said. “As a parent, we trust our kids doing everything else. Why wouldn’t you trust them to come to school?”
Ms. Freeman says that it only took one day to enroll Romeo at Aldridge because the school was so helpful explaining the process. If you are interested in enrolling your student in pre-k for the fall, visit the Chicago Early Learning website to select up to two preferred sites. Bilingual assistance completing the application or answering questions is available in person at a Family Resource Center or by calling the Chicago Early Learning hotline at (312) 229-1690.
Children who are four years old on or before September 1, 2021, are eligible for admittance into CPS full-day and half-day preschool programs. Children who are three years old on or before September 1, 2021, are eligible for CPS half-day programs or community-based early learning programs.
Applications for the upcoming school year opened on April 21 and will be considered year-round. The district strongly encourages families to enroll before the first day of school to ensure a smooth transition. Whenever you apply, though, the district will have high-quality classrooms with availability across the city—just like Romeo’s classroom at Aldridge.
Have more questions about pre-k enrollment? Check out the district’s guide to the application and enrollment process.