CITY LIVING + SCHOOLS
Choosing the right place for you and your family is important. Let us help give you the resources you need to make the choices, quickly and easily.
A note about families:
A big theme among our clients is that they want to get closer to family: maybe physically closer to grandparents, closer to friends who are family, or closer to where they can envision their family blooming. It often means a home near a good school, in a great neighborhood. Our team intrinsically understands this and we can help you strategize so you can reach that goal Having grown up in a small midwest town, I am regularly asked, “What’s it like to raise kids in the city? How do you do this!?”
NAVIGATING THE CITY
1. DISCOVER CHICAGO'S NEIGHBORHOODS
Chicago is known for its neighborhoods! Each one features unique reasons to call them home.
- @properties Neighborhood Reports will give you access to neighborhood news, photos, school rankings and test scores, business reviews and more. https://www.atproperties.com/neighborhoods
- Walk Score gives a great overview of transportation options, nearby restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, groceries, and more: https://www.walkscore.com/
- Google Maps is always a great resource for commute times and distance comparisons: https://www.google.com/map
- Quickly zoom in to see neighborhood boundaries in this tool by Kevin Zolkewicz of Zolk.com.
- Get to know the personality and culture of various neighborhoods in this @properties city neighborhood guide.
Chicago School GPS is also a helpful resource to parents. They offer workshops/group information sessions and school fairs.
To help you navigate the schools here are the various types of schools you will come across in your search:
Early Childhood Education
CPS only offers Tuition based pre-school at select schools. There is huge demand for a limited number of spots, so enrollment occurs the January before the school year. Neighborhood children are given preferential treatment, but not guaranteed. CPS also offers a free preschool called Preschool for all. Its full and half day for 3 and 4 year olds with disabilities and for those with the greatest need. This is a great resource for CPS Preschool parents which includes how to apply and enroll. https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/chicagoearlylearning/home.html
Neighborhood Public Schools (K-8)
Selective Enrollment Schools (K-8)
- Kindergarteners can attend their neighborhood school or apply to either a Regional Gifted Center or a Classical School within the Selective Enrollment School Program, which does involve testing. Kindergarteners must test into Selective Enrollment schools. You can request a test date once you have received an activation code and ranked up to 6 schools on go.cps.edu. Testing takes place between the first week in October through the 2nd Friday in December. Kindergarteners will take two tests on the same day- one for the Classical Schools, which measures reading and math achievements and another for Regional Gifted Centers, which measures critical thinking, reasoning and problem solving aptitude.
- Students grades 5-8 are selected based on their NWEA test scores.
- 7th and 8th graders can test into Academic Centers at 7 High Schools in Chicago. They qualify for the admissions test based on their NWEA scores. These programs provide an accelerated curriculum that enables students to earn limited high school credits, in a high school setting, while still in elementary school. The high schools that house these centers are: Harlan High School, Kenwood Academy, Lane Tech High School, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Morgan Park High School, Taft High School and Whitney Young Magnet High School.
- No one is guaranteed a seat because of where they live. Most of the seats are filled through the tier system. CPS Tier descriptions found here.
Special CPS Programs
- Regional Gifted Centers – Provides an accelerated instructional program that places an emphasis on thinking, reasoning, problem solving and creativity. In addition to rigor in the core content areas, instruction includes a world language or Latin, laboratory science, computer science and fine arts. Apply using the Selective Enrollment Elementary Schools (SEES) Application (go.cps.edu) + an entrance exam. More information on the exam is found here: https://cps.edu/AccessAndEnrollment/Pages/KindergartenTesting.aspx
- Below is a list of schools that offer the regional gifted program, should your child qualify. CPS assigns which school your child will attend, taking into account the region of the city where you reside.
- These schools are filled entirely with Regional Gifted Students: Edison, Keller, and Lenart
- These Neighborhood Schools offer the program in conjunction with the normal neighborhood educational program: Beaubien, Bell, Carnegie, Coonley (phasing out), Greeley, National Teachers Academy, Orozco, Pritzker, Pulaski and South Loop
- Beasley Magnet School also offers a Regional Gifted Program
- If the child’s first language is Spanish, Polish or Russian, and they qualify for the program, they will attend: Greeley, Orozco, and Pulaski
- Classical Schools – designed to provide a challenging liberal arts course of instruction for students with high academic potential. Transportation is provided to students who live within designated street ranges. Apply at www.apply.cps.edu OR www.cpsoae.org
- International Gifted Programs – This intensive study of English, French, social studies, laboratory science, mathematics, technology, arts, physical education, library science, and advanced research is designed to allow intellectually-able students to learn at an accelerated pace. It is offered at Lincoln Elementary School and the Ogden International School of Chicago for gifted sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.
Magnet Schools (K-8)
There are 41 Magnet schools in Chicagoland area, listed here: https://cps.edu/AccessAndEnrollment/Pages/MagnetSchoolsElementary.aspx You can apply to a magnet school here: https://cps.edu/AccessAndEnrollment/Pages/OAE.aspx
Charter Schools (K-8)
Contract Schools (K-8)
Private Schools (K-8)
Here is a list of popular private schools:
- St. Andrew
- St. Bens
- St. Sylvesters
- St. Clements
- Catherine Cook
- Francis W Parker
- The Latin School
- The British School
- The French School
- North Park
- Chicago City Day
- Chicago Montessori
- Rogers Park Montessori
- … and the list goes on and on!
3. WHAT TO DO
You can save money on many of these attractions by purchasing Chicago CityPASS or Go Chicago Card. There are even museums that offer free admission on Wednesdays! Learn more here: https://www.choosechicago.com/articles/museums-art/free-museum-days-in-chicago/ Some museums to check out:
- Adler Planetarium
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Field Museum
- Shedd Aquarium
- Chicago History Museum
- Chicago Children’s Museum
- Chicago Cultural Center
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- Museum of Contemporary Photography
- Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
- Lincoln Park Zoo
- Brookfield Zoo
- Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center
- DuSable Museum of African American History
- Loyola University Museum of Art
- McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum
- Swedish American Museum
- Clarke House Museum
- Glessner House Museum
- Charnley-Persky House
- National Veterans Art Museum
- Driehaus Museum
- National Museum of Mexican Art
Of course, don’t miss headlining acts at Summer’s hottest music festivals or the Chicago Air & Water Show – I don’t think you could miss that one, even if you tried! Home to Jazz and Blues, so much cool art & architecture, and so many local brews, Chicago boasts a FULL calendar year of FUN! So get out there and explore!
4. Our favorite things
Lincoln Park Zoo