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Cortland Preschool

1859 N. Talman Street
Chicago, IL 60647

(773) 351-5931


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Four hour half-day preschool serving ages 3 -6. We are Reggio Emila inspired in our approach. Parents choose 2, 3 or 5 days per week, depending on age / needs. We are safe, healthy, non-toxic, organic and offer unique and stimulating learning experiences.

Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Reggio-Emilia

From the Director:

We are a hands-on, constructivist style preschool. Cortland Preschool was launched by passionate and committed educators using over ten years of preschool teaching experience to create a state-of-the-art environment and curriculum that is authentic, progressive, comprehensive and superb. From the design of the building to the sound environment to the types of snacks served, every detail has been carefully considered and informed by actual teaching experience. Come and see what makes us so different...we are Reggio Emilia inspired as well!

Curriculum & Teaching Approach

Learning Philosophy & Tools

  Play- based mostly teacher led not formally in curriculum conducive environment
Language       more

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  • Tracing paper and other writing instruments
  • A well-stocked bookcase
Oral language  
Nursery rhymes, poems, songs  
Storybook reading  
Emerging literacy skills  
Cognitive development
Math & number sense more

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  • Puzzles
Time & space more

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  • Calendars and clocks
  • Parquetry blocks, pegboards, and mosaic toys
  • Maps
  • Building blocks
Sci. reasoning/physical world more

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  • A place for science activities such as growing plants
  • Pets for children to watch and care for
Music more

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  • Musical instruments
Visual arts more

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  • Materials such as paint, ink, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, chalk, paper, etc.
  • Art work on the walls
Physical activity more

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  • A playground with climbing equipment
  • Bean bags, balls, and other objects that children can throw, kick, and play
  • Enough room for children to move around and play and a suitable indoor alternative to the outdoor playground on rainy days
  • Sandboxes and/or water stations for play
Other subjects taught gardening, earth/space science, yoga, dance, world music appreciation, Spanish

From the Director:

Our curriculum is fluid, and student-led while being carefully planned and implemented throughout the school year. We meet the State of Illinois Early Learning Standards while working within a custom-crafted curriculum that was developed over the past six years. We look for teachable moments, believe in appealing to each child's unique abilities and tastes, and consider ourselves facilitators of education.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

It is our belief that each child is unique, therefore our experience teaching and custom-crafted curriculum (as opposed to curriculum that is purchased) reaches each child individually, where he or she is personally at. We see education as a natural unfolding of the curiosity and desire to learn that is already present in children, not a formulaic, staid thing that requires all children to be the same.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Cortland Preschool is purposefully small, with a low student-teacher ratio; we believe that each child deserves as much individual and customized attention as possible during these highly formative years of development.

We are also city-dwellers, as opposed to a franchise, who have taught in downtown Chicago for years—we understand the fragile beauty of raising children in the city and the many advantages that go along with it.

Our staff is of the highest caliber and training, and feel teaching is an honor and life-calling.

We take both fun and education very seriously because preschool is what we love, and because we understand there is nothing more important to you (or your child!) than a safe, happy and hands-on learning experience.

A Typical Day


8:15 - 8:30 drop off/check in/hand washing
8:30 - 9:30 open play (choosing time) and first snack time (organic, local), individual instruction
9:30 - 10:00 Morning Meeting & storytime
10:20 - 10:40 World Music Appreciation, Creative Movement, or Small Group Focus
10:40 - 11:20 Playground or Gardening
11:20 - 11:30 Handwashing, prep to go home
11:30 - 12:00 Lunch (organic, local)
12:15 - 12:30 Dismissal

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

We communicate with our parents through weekly newsletters and blog updates, which communicate the themes and learning goals of the week (along with Early Learning Standards) to keep parents continually informed.

We are big supporters of portfolios, so each child is continually building a portfolio of work to share during open house nights and conference nights. By having a tangible record of work, children and parents are both amazed at the progress and growth that can be measured in just one short year.

Parent/Teacher conferences are a regular part of our yearly schedule as well as occasional "update" emails or phone calls whenever needed.

Parent education classes are free and offered whenever parents request them from our director. We consider this a special free service and also an excellent opportunity for teaching staff to share some tips and tricks with parents. We are also active in hosting community events in our space after hours, including hosting parenting workshops for the Bucktown/Wicker Park community.


Separation is Handled through:

  • Home visits by teachers
  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Parents in classroom early on

Handling Separation: From the Director

Each child is different when it comes to separation anxiety, therefore it is difficult to generalize for this form. One of the key things that we strive for is that parents feel comfortable and confident and project that to their children--we then assess each case individually and use different tactics as the situation calls for. We ask parents to consider their own unique separation strategy beforehand and work with them to facilitate a smooth and low-stress separation.