Search early childhood education options here.

  • How do I apply to KCPS preschools?

    To be eligible to attend a KCPS pre-kindergarten, your child must be 3 years old before August 1 and you must live within the KCPS school boundaries.

    All KCPS pre-kindergarten programs are offered at no cost for the 2017-2018 school year.

    Before and after care is available. Families needing the extended day program will be charged a fee based on income.

    Completed applications, excluding Montessori and Hale Cook applications, must be returned to the Early Learning offices at 1215 E. Truman Road. Applications are accepted by appointment only; call 418-5213 to schedule yours.

  • What is Head Start?

    HEAD START
    MO Head STart AssociationHead Start is a Federal program that provides free learning and development services to children ages birth to five and pregnant women from low income families. Many Head Start programs also provide Early Head Start, which serves infants, toddlers, and pregnant women and their families who have incomes below the Federal poverty level.

    Is my family eligible for Head Start?
    In general, eligibility is based on family income at or below the poverty level. Families with other situations including homelessness, and children in foster care, or receiving SSI or TANF also are eligible.

    These are the Poverty Guidelines published by the Federal government:

    PERSONS IN FAMILY/HOUSEHOLD – POVERTY GUIDELINE

    For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,160 for each additional person.

    1 – $11,880

    2 – $16,020

    3 – $20,160

    4 – $24,300

    5 – $28,440

    6 – $32,580

    7 – $36,730

    8 – $40,890

    Search for local Head Start programs here.

  • Why do some preschools have educational philosophies? What do they mean?

    Many preschools have an educational philosophy that guides their classroom instruction and teachers’ interaction with the children.

    Here is a brief overview of four popular education philosophies in Kansas City’s preschools – Project Construct, Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Creative Curriculum. Preschools may interpret these philosophies differently. For additional information on these philosophies, check out the following articles: Preschool Philosophy 101 and Comparing Preschool Philosophies.

    Project Construct

    This framework is not organized according to traditional subject areas. Instead, it uses students’ interests to motivate and engage them, encourages children to collaborate and work together, and allows them to take initiative, express opinions and make choices.

    Montessori

    This approach is child-centered, with teachers serving as guides. In the Montessori school, play is a child’s work. While there is a focus on academics, the distinguishing feature is that children learn at their own pace. Classrooms are arranged so that children ages three, four and five are all in the same room. This allows the older children to serve as role models for the younger ones, and also exposes children to different ages. Many parents choose Montessori because they believe it helps their children acquire leadership skills and independence in general.

    Reggio Emilia

    Reggio Emilia schools are known for a project-based approach, which many preschool programs have borrowed. In a project-based curriculum, lessons are based on the interest of the students. Parents who want their child to be a good citizen may choose a Reggio Emilia program. Children learn about cooperation through the many projects, particularly how to solve problems and resolve conflicts.

    Creative Curriculum

    Developed by for-profit Teaching Strategies Inc., this system provides teachers with textbooks and written materials that outline a child-centered approach. The company describes it as a “research-based system” that is being used in increasing numbers of preschool programs. It is based on five fundamental principles:
    1. Positive interactions and relationships with adults provide a critical foundation for successful learning.
    2. Social–emotional competence is a significant factor in school success. 3. Constructive, purposeful play supports essential learning.
    4. The physical environment affects the type and quality of learning interactions.
    5. Teacher–family partnerships promote development and learning.

  • Are there KC preschools that have a special needs focus?

    There are two preschools in the KCPS boundaries that focus on serving children with special needs: Children’s Therapeutic Learning Center and The Children’s Place.

  • Where can I find help paying for preschool?
    KCPS Preschools

    All KCPS preschools are available at no cost for 2017-2018. Families needing before and aftercare will be charged a fee, based on income.

    Private Schools

    The Parents’ Financial Statement is a relatively new form that some private schools use to evaluate families’ financial positions to see if they qualify for scholarships. Check to see if any of the preschools you are interested in use this form. Additionally, several private preschools offer tuition assistance/financial aid.

    Savings Accounts

    Most people think of Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (“education IRAs”) as a way to help pay for college or private school, but they can also be used to pay for preschools. Families can invest up to $2,000 tax-free to be used at an accredited school.

    Additional Resources

    For additional suggestions, check out this resource.

  • What local resources are available for families with young children?
    Parents as Teachers

    Parents as Teachers is a parent education and family support program from pregnancy until kindergarten. Through personal visits, group connections, developmental screenings and networks of community referrals, parents learn about early childhood development and how to increase their child’s school readiness and success. Contact the KCPS Parents as Teachers (PAT) supervisor at 418-5245 to learn how to apply for this program.

    Success by Six

    Success by 6 Resource Centers provide educational training, materials and technology stations for traditional parents, non-traditional parents, teen parents, child care providers, early childhood educators and parent educators. In partnership with local school districts and organizations, the United Way Success by 6 Resource Centers provide a Toy and Resource Lending Library filled with educational toys and books appropriate for children birth to age 8. All materials are available for checkout free of charge. A center is located at KCPS’ Woodland Community Schools.

    Talk, Read, Play

    Talk, Read, Play is a city-wide campaign initiated by Mayor Sly James in partnership with the Family Conservancy. This program brings together libraries, Head Start programs, local nonprofits, and city agencies to promote early language development and literacy. Find parenting tips from Talk, Read, Play about how to engage your children here.

    The Family Conservancy

    The Family Conservancy (TFC) has a mission to help children and families achieve a lifetime of success. TFC is a helpful resource – providing a child care database, summer camp guide, along with direct services such as nutrition education, literacy tools and mental health consultation. Check out their many parenting classes and parenting tips here, from bedtime routines to child-proofing your home.

  • What is the Missouri Preschool Project?

    The Missouri Preschool Project (MPP) program is offered through KCPS for general education children who will attend kindergarten the following fall. The program provides a research-based curriculum that is developmentally appropriate and focuses on a hands-on environment for their stages of development. It also offers experience in readiness skills and school routines.

    MPP is a full day program. KCPS elementary school locations include: Primitivo Garcia, Kansas City Neighborhood Academy and Troost Elementary.

  • Do preschools provide transportation?

    In general, preschools do not provide transportation.

  • Do you have any tips for choosing a preschool?
    First, think about the basics.

    Is it important for the school to be near my home or workplace? Is it important that it offer services in the morning, afternoon or both? How much tuition can I afford?

    Know the terms.

    Become familiar with preschool philosophies (see above) and common early childhood terms: child-centered is often used to describe settings that take the child’s interests into consideration when planning activities; teacher-led is the opposite — more structured, and is based on a set schedule developed by the teachers; child-led settings wait for each child to initiate or ask for new activities, fostering individualized learning experiences; co-operative schools often ask families to assist at the preschool or with fund-raising and upkeep; developmentally appropriate means the preschool plans the curriculum and activities based on the appropriateness for the age of the children in the class; pre-K is sometimes used interchangeably with preschool in general, but specifically means the year before kindergarten, usually age 4; a pre-K program is often more structured than preschool

    Reach out.

    Contact other parents, your friends and neighbors, your pediatrician, your older child’s teacher, for recommendations. There also are numerous websites to check out. For example, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) will tell you which schools in the area have NAEYC accreditation and what that means. GreatSchools.org describes how to avoid some of the mistakes parents make when choosing a preschool.

    Plan a visit.

    After you have narrowed your choices to two or three, set up a visit. You can learn a lot about a setting by the way staff approach introductory visits with you and your child. During your visit, consider these questions: Do I feel welcome here? Does my child seem interested in what they have to offer? Do the other children seem happy? How do adults and children interact? Is it safe and clearn? Be prepared with questions for the program director. You can download an excellent checklist designed to help families select the right program, which includes a comprehensive list of questions to ask the program director, available here.

    (adapted from GetReadytoRead.org)