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Thomas J. Waters School

4540 North Campbell Ave
Chicago, IL 60625

(773) 534-5090


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Philosophy & Approach

School Philosophy

General Approach to Learning: Play-Based

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
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
  • 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 Waters' Tuition Based PreK has s a unique program that provides exposure to the Spanish language. Students learn spanish through songs and stories. Students learn about spanish culture through dance and sampling ethnic foods. Effective programs can help students develop high levels of academic achievement as they become both bilingual and bi-literate.

Quality of Teaching

Individualized Teaching: From the Director

Teachers work with children based on their level of ability. Staff encourages children to achieve to their fullest potential. Teachers provide students with learning opportunities tailored to fit their needs.

Day in the Life

General School Mission

Waters added a full day, tuition-based preschool classroom for the 2006/07 school year, in addition to it half-day, free preschool class. The mission of the CPS Tuition-Based program is to ensure that all children, ages 3 and 4, have access to comprehensive, high-quality pre-school options. Waters offers a literacy-based curriculum that supports reading-readiness, math activities, fine arts, music and gym. Waters is committed to creating an engaging learning environment that supports the unique potential of each individual.

Waters School:

A model for Fine and Performing Arts, Environmental Studies, Literacy, Multiculturalism and Technology, Waters Elementary School is the neighborhood school for Ravenswood Manor, Ravenswood Gardens, and Lincoln Square communities.

WE ARE a multilingual, diverse school of community of parents, students, teachers, staff, community, and external partners as a family of learners.

WE HAVE a hands-on curriculum-based literacy, math, science and social studies program that comes alive through fine and performing arts, environmental studies, and technology.

WE CELEBRATE and NURTURE cultural diversity, family history, life experience, language, in a culture of social awareness, change, and action.

WE INSPIRE and PROMOTE a positive school community culture, school leadership, shared decision making, collaboration, and external and parent partnerships.

WE NETWORK and CONSULT with universities, elected officials, educators, non-profit organizations, civic groups, professional communites and philanthropic entities.

WE PRESENT and PARTICIPATE in city, state, and national professional educational conferences.

A Typical Day

Children will enjoy a play and literacy-based curriculum where they will engage in pre-reading and writing activities while exploring the world around them. Literacy, math, science, music and art are integrated throughout the curriculum. There are learning centers that include sand & water tables, art, block play, dramatic play, writing, reading, games and puzzles, science and math. Children will have fun while they learn and prepare for kindergarten and life! (OK maybe not that much!)"

Home-School Connection

Home-School Connection: From the Director

The Parent Project is a series of workshops through which parents learn the methods and strategies of "Best Practice" Teaching*.

This workshop approach to parent-teacher collaboration was cited in President Clinton's "America Reads" Challenge as one of six "parents-as-teachers" national models.

As classrooms embark on integrated thematic units, parents are invited to workshops that explore the same themes utilized in the classrooms. The techniques previewed during the workshops are, in turn, used by parents as they assist their children at home.

*Best Practice Teaching
-Less lecturing, more experiential hands-on learning
-Less student passivity, more active student involvement
-Less time spent on rote memorization, more emphasis on higher-order thinking on key concepts
-Less thin coverage of large amounts of materials, more deep study of fewer topics
-Less competition among students, more cooperation and collaboration

Parents Say They are Encouraged to:

  • Hold social events at the school to build community
  • Fundraise
  • Are able to visit the school anytime we want
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Receive newsletters

Modes of Communication

  • Notes
  • Phone Calls
  • Email
  • Special Meetings
  • Two or More Regular Conferences
  • Drop-Off
  • Pick-Up
  • Regular newsletter/printed updates circulated to the whole school


Separation is Handled through:

  • Pre-entry meetings with parents at school
  • Extra staff dedicated to handle separation
  • Parents in classroom early on

Handling Separation: From the Director

Parents are invited to bring their child to school to visit their "classroom" before the beginning of the school year. Children are encouraged to participate in class activities to get the "feel" for the program. Teachers are available to discuss any concerns/anxieties that they may have in regards to their childs entry into school.