There Are Many Preschool Options In and Around Champaign-Urbana to Consider
It is our belief that there is not “one best” preschool in Champaign-Urbana — or anywhere for that matter. Not every school is right for every child. That is why it is important for parents to shop around, to find what works for your child — and what works for your family. Get out there, tour the schools, come prepared with your questions, and embrace the process.
Thanks to Lodgic Kids Camp for sponsoring our Champaign-Urbana preschools compilation. Lodgic Kids Camp is a flexible, play-based learning environment of discovery and exploration. Intentionally designed for today’s on-the-go families who juggle priorities, Lodgic Kids Camp helps families balance what’s important to them by providing come-and-go, drop-in childcare that is safe, fun, and dependable. It is a high-quality early childhood education experience with a distinct focus on caring for others, social responsibility, and community contribution. For more information call (217) 607-8184, check out their website or Facebook.
This guide features schools that:
- cater to children generally ages 2-5, although most are for 3-5. Many (but not all) require children to be potty-trained upon admission.
- are in session a few hours per day and operate on school-year calendars. There are some gray areas; some schools may offer optional extended care options and some offer extended calendar years.
What schools are NOT in this guide?
- Centers that ONLY offer year-round, full-time care are not on this list. If you are looking for childcare in Champaign-Urbana, please read Finding Childcare in Champaign-Urbana.
- District-based preschool programs. If you are looking for more information about preschool screening and how to see if your child qualifies for school-district based programming, please check Free Preschool An Option for Some Champaign-Urbana Area Students.
All listings are paid sponsors of chambanamoms.com. Are you interested in being a part of our Champaign-Urbana Area Preschool resource and aren’t already listed? Please complete this form. ALSO, if you’re interested in a private school for elementary through high school students, check out our private school guide.
Preschool Curriculum: FBC Preschool is a fun, hands-on school readiness program. They utilize the award-winning Get Set for School by Learning Without Tears preschool curriculum. This program focuses on playful learning to develop coloring, drawing, counting, building handwriting readiness skills and keyboarding. This easy-to-teach curriculum makes learning important, pre-writing and letter recognition skills engaging, and school fun for the preschool students.
What makes the preschool unique: The preschool teaching staff strives to teach the values of Christian faith to the preschool children through guided conversations, spontaneous teachable moments, Bible stories and songs. FBC preschool offers small classroom sizes with no more than 10 preschool students per class so that student/teacher ratio is at its best. Three-year-old and four/five-year-old classes have one teacher per classroom and their two-year-old classes have two teachers per classroom.
What the director says: The preschool has been a part of the community since 1983 and has a caring, dedicated teaching staff that is committed to helping each child grow and develop. The preschool is directed by Jaymie Shine who has been with the school since 1991.
Location: 1602 South Prospect Ave., Savoy
Open House Date(s): Feb. 20, 2020 6-7 p.m.
Preschool Curriculum: Cooperative Nursery School uses the Creative Curriculum when planning and implementing activities for their classrooms, and teachers adapt their units of study with the interests, strengths, and goals of students each year. They offer daily art, math, literacy, and science as well as weekly music and Spanish classes and monthly Enrichment programs. Cooperative Nursery School also uses Conscious Discipline, which is a comprehensive self-regulation program focusing on building a strong and positive school wide community.
What makes the preschool unique: Families have the opportunity to assist in the classroom and are able to choose from three different levels of participation. This keeps fees lower and builds a wonderful parent community. Each classroom has a head teacher, an assistant teacher, and one parent present every day, which gives us a better adult/child ratio than most preschools in the area. Children do not have to be potty trained to enroll in school, and they have a Friday morning parent-child playground called Good Beginnings from 9:30-11:30 a.m. for kids from birth to age 5, which is a great way to help your little one get ready for preschool.
What the director says: Cooperative Nursery School is an amazing and unique community because of our families! Coop provides a diverse, safe, and nurturing environment for each child that encourages self-confidence, independence, responsibility, and socialization. Our staff is compromised of well trained teachers who have been with the school for years, and most of whom have children who are current students or alumni. My boys developed a love of learning and made lifelong friends at school, and our staff look forward to assisting your children any way we can along their school journey, too! -- Jenelle Thompson-Keene/Director
Location: First Presbyterian Church 602 W. Green St., Urbana
Open House Date(s) Feb. 20, 2020, 6-7 p.m. and Feb., 21, 2020, 10-11 a.m.
Preschool curriculum: The foundation of Campus Cooperative Preschool is its child-centered, play-based curriculum. This is guided by the implementation of The Creative Curriculum for Preschool, along with an engaging creative arts program, and multifaceted social and emotional curriculum where diversity is embraced and each child feels valued and cherished.
What makes the preschool unique: Since 1951, this cooperative-styled preschool has involved parents to enhance the curriculum, provide administrative support, and maintain the physical facilities. There is a very high staff retention rate with many teachers having been with the program for over 10 years. Using their backgrounds in child development, the staff’s implementation of the curriculum embraces the emotional world of children through kind, nurturing interactions helping each child develop a positive sense of self as an active learner.
What the director says: CCP is an affordable, non-profit, secular play-based early childhood program in which children learn in a safe, warm environment where diversity is embraced and every child feels valued and cherished. -- Director Anna Rice
Location: Wesley Foundation (Lower Level), 1203 W. Green St., Urbana
Open House Date(s): Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 6-7:30 p.m.
Holy Cross School has been educating young people in the CU community since 1912. The school is known for its academic excellence in a Christian value-centered atmosphere.
What makes the school unique: Holy Cross School has a strong history of academic excellence, value-based education, strong fine arts and athletic programs, and a dedication to developing character in our students.
What the director says: Holy Cross School has a strong family atmosphere where teachers and parents work in partnership to create a successful learning experience for our students. Rosemary Costello, Principal
Grades Served: Pre-school – 8
Location: 410 West White St., Champaign
Preschool Curriculum: Wee Disciples Preschool encourages self-directed, play-based learning paired with direct instruction by an experienced teacher. Their study of the Bible, as well as the various units of study, guides their teaching and learning. The major areas of child growth and development are spiritual, social-emotional, cognitive, language, and physical. The program provides a balance of large and small group activities and is organized with learning centers that promote concepts in the curriculum areas of Bible stories and worship, language arts and emergent literacy, mathematics, science and technology, social studies and Christian attitudes, music, art, fine and gross motor skills, and dramatic play. Assessment of student skills and interests assist teachers in adapting the curriculum to meet the individual needs of all students.
What makes the preschool unique: Wee Disciples Preschool embraces Christian attitudes and teaches the love of Jesus throughout the preschool day. They strive to provide a quality, Christ-centered Early Childhood program that is developmentally appropriate and meets the various needs of all students in a multi-age group classroom. They support families in preparing their child for kindergarten by providing comprehensive student progress reports and parent teacher conferences twice a year. They also offer many activities to bridge school and home such as weekly newsletters, weekly literacy bag check out, monthly student/parent homework, parent volunteer opportunities, and family activity nights.
What the director says: What a blessing it is to be a part of the Wee Disciples Preschool Program. We offer the community a quality, Christian Early Childhood program where all children grow both developmentally and spiritually. Our program provides families with the option of a 2, 3 or 5 day morning multi-age classroom. If you are interested in learning more about our unique preschool program, please contact me with any questions. -- Karen Rohrer, Director and Lead Teacher
Open House Dates: Registration for the 2020-21 school year begins March 1. To schedule a school tour, email email@example.com.
Location: Trinity Lutheran Church, 701 E. Florida Ave., Urbana
Preschool curriculum: University Primary School (Uni Primary) is the University of Illinois College of Education’s Preschool-5th grade Reggio Emilia-inspired lab school. Preschool children experience active and engaging indoor and outdoor play alongside emergent investigations, grounded in the lives of children. Uni Primary’s preschool strives to build a democratic classroom community that makes effective use of cooperation, negotiation, and choice as a means to foster children’s intellect, curiosity, and love of learning. At Uni Primary, “Learning is Serious Delight!”
What makes the preschool unique: As a Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool and school, Uni Primary Preschool sees children as resourceful, playful, competent, and inventive. The school values creativity and connectedness across all content areas, with problem solving and self-directed learning in concert with teacher-guided activities and instruction. Located on campus, there is access to a variety of experts and resources that enhance interactions and discoveries in the world around us.
What the director says: “Our Uni Primary Preschool is engaging and peaceful, filled with the beauty of childhood discovery and active learning. Our preschool teachers promote kindness through their listening and care toward each child and family. Please join us for a tour and experience: ‘Learning as Serious Delight.'” –Dr. Ali Lewis, principal
Location: The Children’s Research Center (lower southeast side of building), 51 Gerty Dr., Champaign
Open House/Informational Meeting Date(s): Prospective families are invited to tour the school at their Community Open House on Wednesday, Feb. 5 between 9 a.m. - noon (preschool) and 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (kindergarten - 5th grade). Prospective families may also schedule a tour by appointment with the school office. Applications for the 2020-2021 school year will be accepted beginning Jan. 13, 2020 through March 2, 2020. Applications submitted by March 2 will be given first consideration for admission.
Preschool Curriculum: Next Generation's preschool program provides children with a warm, loving, and nurturing environment where they are valued and celebrated as individuals. Their teachers provide individualized learning opportunities for each student, always challenging them to extend their thinking while providing the loving support a child needs to feel in order to do so. In addition to math and language, their program also includes art, science, music, Spanish, and literacy classes taught by specialists.
What makes the preschool unique: The Preschool & Transitional Kindergarten campus supports the school's dedication to holistically educating each child. A science classroom, indoor gymnasium, and reading room provide preschool students with unparalleled learning opportunities. Children enjoy a daily schedule that is balanced with plenty of time for play and fun, active-learning experiences.
What the director says: We value open communication with our families and view partnerships with them as a vital component in helping each child reach their fullest potential.
Location: Next Generation Preschool & Transitional Kindergarten, 2508 Galen Dr., Champaign
Preschool Curriculum: My Morning Out offers a play-based curriculum with activities designed to foster enthusiasm and creativity, and to introduce academics through play. They help children become independent, self-confident, curious learners who can work well with others.
What makes the preschool unique: My Morning Out is open to children 2 1/2 to Pre-K. Their Drop-In program, for children from 6 weeks to Pre-K, is flexible and one of only a few among childcare programs in the area. You use as much or as little as you want — and only pay for the hours you use.
What the director says: At MMO, children PLAY, LEARN and GROW! Through our Preschool and our flexible Drop-In program, children have opportunities every day to make new friends, discover the world around them and develop skills they’ll use throughout their lives. We are proud to have been an important part of the Champaign-Urbana community for more than 50 years – providing high-quality childcare to generations of families.
Location: My Morning Out is located within the Temple Baptist Church, 1100 Broadmoor Dr., Champaign
Preschool Curriculum: Students at Faithful Friends Preschool learn through purposeful play. In their classrooms, opportunities abound for hands-on experiences in literacy, math, science, process art and dramatic play. FFP provides a Christian environment that encourages learning, teaches to the developmental needs of children and respects the unique lifestyle of each child.
What makes the preschool unique: FFP has mixed age classrooms where children drive the curriculum and are encouraged to let their true selves show. FFP meets all children where they are and guides them along their individual developmental path. At Faithful Friends, teachers facilitate the development of secure social-emotional skills and help to build genuine relationships between kids as well as between children and adults.
What the director says: Faithful Friends is a great place for children to spend their mornings filled with opportunities for authentic experiences. And while they know when the time comes, the children who attend FFP will transition right into kindergarten; their primary focus is on the now -- for every school day to be your child’s best day as a 2-, 3-, or 4-year-old!
Location: Faith United Methodist Church, 1719 S. Prospect Ave., Champaign
St. Matthew is the largest PreK – 8th grade private school in Champaign-Urbana. They are fortunate to have a caring and talented teaching staff that provides their students with intellectual and spiritual opportunities in a positive learning environment. They have an extended care program available from 2:30-5:30 p.m. each day, 10 sports students can join, and 17 different clubs.
What makes the school unique? A sense of community and teamwork shared by students, staff, parents, priests, sisters, and parish members is what makes St. Matthew unique.
What the director says: St. Matthew Catholic School provides a rigorous, superior education, while encompassing our Catholic faith, to develop the whole child.
Affiliation: Catholic Diocese of Peoria
Grades Served: PreK – 8th grades
School Location: St. Matthew School, 1307 Lincolnshire Dr., Champaign
Preschool Curriculum: For almost 60 years, Montessori School of CU has been a home away from home for students, faculty and families. They are a community committed to encouraging life-long learners, respecting independence, and positively impacting the world — one child at a time. From 15 months to 12 years old, they have prepared spaces for your children to explore!
What makes the preschool unique: MSCU is a school where students are known and respected as individuals while being challenged and supported in their growth. Our mixed aged classrooms offer personalized learning at his/her own pace through hands-on exploration, guided practice, integrated projects, peer-mentoring and collaboration.
What the director says: What makes MSCU truly unique is our professional, caring, and committed staff whose sole purpose everyday is to provide an outstanding educational experience for each child. -- Monica Huang, Head of School
Location: 1403 Regency Drive East, Savoy
Preschool Curriculum: Judah Christian Preschool offers a nurturing, Christ-centered learning environment for children ages three years old and up. Through a combination of play-based learning, teacher-led instruction and hands-on activities, children form a solid foundation in the following domains: math, science, language, social and spiritual. The curriculum at JCS well-prepares preschool students for elementary school and beyond.
What Makes Your Preschool Unique: JCS strives to educate students from a Biblical perspective and focuses on teaching children the way God has created them to learn. Further, JCS is a fun, safe place to learn where talented educators spend their time teaching the whole child. The genuine family atmosphere truly sets JCS apart.
What the Director Says: Judah Christian Preschool is a wonderful place to begin your child’s educational journey. We are a well-established, academic preschool with the foundational base of a Biblical worldview. Our students have the opportunity to learn and grow in the Lord each day with caring, experienced preschool teachers. JCS is truly a special place! - Cheryl Black, Preschool and Elementary Principal
Open House/Informational Meeting Date(s): Judah is offering Coffee & Tour dates all through the spring for each of their school divisions. Come visit, meet the principals, talk curriculum and more.
Preschool Dates: February 11th, 2020, February 25th, 2020, March 31st, 2020, April 14th, 2020 Register Here
Elementary Dates: February 12th, 2020, February 26th, 2020, April 1st, 2020, April 15th, 2020 Register Here
Jr. & Sr. High School Dates: February 13th, 2020, February 27th, 2020, April 2nd, 2020, April 16th, 2020 Register Here
Location: 908 N. Prospect Ave., Champaign
Enrollment Contact: Kate Mead
At St. John Little Lamb Preschool, students are encouraged to participate in a variety of learning experiences which enhance early learning! Activities are designed to develop fine- and gross-motor skills as students engage in developmentally appropriate, play-based learning about letters, numbers, language, science, art, and more.
What Makes Your Preschool Unique: St. John Little Lamb Preschool is a caring place where students can engage in hands-on exploration, observation, and problem solving. An age-appropriate outdoor playground as well as an indoor gymnasium are available so kids have plenty of opportunities to run and play whatever the weather. Little Lamb students also learn about God’s love and forgiveness through Bible stories, songs and role playing. Children’s devotions and prayers are integrated daily.
What the Director Says: We welcome the opportunity to work with families and children and share God’s love every day. It is a joy to educate, inspire, nurture, and challenge students and experience their enthusiasm for learning! – Stephanie Middendorf, Lead Preschool Teacher
Location: 509 S. Mattis Ave., Champaign
Open House: February 25, 2020, 5-6:30 p.m.
Carle Auditory Oral School (CAOS) is a private school program focused on listening and spoken language development. Originally founded as a school for children with hearing loss, it was quickly discovered that the hands-on, language-rich learning environment has tremendous benefits for children with normal hearing as well. Small class sizes, highly-skilled teachers, thematic lessons and environmental learning give students the edge they need to be successful both in and outside of school.
What makes the school unique: At Carle Auditory Oral School, children with hearing loss learn alongside those with normal hearing, creating an ideal environment for developing communication and social skills.
What the director says: “CAOS strives to provide children with a solid foundation of self-confidence, concern for others, academic readiness and enthusiasm for the learning process.” – Danielle Chalfant, Carle Auditory Oral School
Open House Date(s): Please call to schedule a tour.
Location: 805 W. Park St., Urbana