Category: Navigating Chicago Schools

How to choose a great school without going nuts

All of those Facebook photos of your friends' kids on their first day of school are, of course, adorable, but if you have a two- or three-year-old it can also send you into an anxiety spiral. Oh my god, that's going to be my kid next year! And I haven't even started searching for a school yet!

First, breathe. You have enough time to find the right school. But spare yourself the headaches of navigating public and private schools on your own and let NPN help you. Trust us, we're experts ...

Posted on September 19, 2016 at 1:00 PM

South Side School Fair: Know before you go

The NPN South Side Preschool & Elementary School Fair is just days away! Here are all of the details you need to help you prepare before you arrive on Saturday, Sept. 10, in order to have a great school search experience.


Want to personalize your search criteria? You can do this with My Directory. Choose up to 30 schools, view them on a map, and save them to a custom PDF to print and bring with you to the fair. 
Check out the exhibitor list to see wh...

Posted on September 07, 2016 at 12:12 PM by Laura Baginski

9 questions parents should be asking schools

Whether you’re attending the NPN School Fair or you’re going on a school tour, asking the right questions of a school representative is one of the most important ways of determining whether a school is right for your child. 

But what should you ask? Below are some of the most common questions parents ask when chatting with school reps, along with why their answers are so important.

1. What is the education philosophy?
You’ll want to know whether it lines up with what you believe a...

Posted on September 07, 2016 at 11:00 AM by Laura Baginski

Thoughts parents have on the first day of school

Right now my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of smiling (and I’m not going to lie, some frowning) photos of kids standing with signs that declare their first day of school. They are absolutely adorable in their best “first day of school” outfits, filled with nervous anticipation of what is to come for the upcoming school year.

But I always wonder what these pictures would look like if there was a parent standing with an adorable personalized “back to school” sign. I mean, would a...

Posted on August 29, 2016 at 9:17 AM by Amanda Simkin

The top 7 reasons to go to NPN's school fair

Whether your child is starting school next fall, or still a baby or the size of an olive in your belly, you will get valuable information about Chicago schools at NPN’s Preschool & Elementary School Fair on Oct. 16 at Grossinger Autoplex in Lincoln Park. Reps from nearly 150 public and private schools will be on hand to tell you about their schools and answer your questions. 

Here are 7 reasons why NPN’s school fair is not to be missed.

1. You'll get lots of face time. This is y...

Posted on August 22, 2016 at 7:47 AM

Education in Chicago: What can be done?

What's the state of education in Chicago, and what can be done to make sure every child gets access to the same opportunities? Those were the questions guiding Tuesday evening's panel discussion, Letters to the Editor Live: Chicago Education in Crisis, presented by the Chicago Sun-Times and Neighborhood Parents Network. 

The panel—comprised of Sun-Times reporters and columnists Lauren FitzPatrick, Dan Mihalopoulos, Mark Brown and Mary Mitchell, as well as NPN's Amy Johnson and Tiffany ...

Posted on August 10, 2016 at 1:10 PM by Laura Baginski

Childcare options for the April 1 CTU strike

Photo credit: MD11/Flickr

The question is no longer whether the Chicago Teachers Union will strike on April 1. Now that a strike is inevitable, the question (among many) is: What are Chicago parents going to do with their kids on April 1?

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool announced that CPS will set up 250 "contingency sites" where parents can send their kids next Friday—locations will be announced Tuesday. UPDATE: Here is the list of 250 spots. 

But if you would prefer to ensure your chi...

Posted on March 30, 2016 at 2:10 PM by Laura Baginski

Does a kindergartener need a tutor to get ahead? |

If a child is behind in speech or language development, or not keeping up with his class academically, hiring a speech therapist or tutor is a no-brainer. But does a 5-year-old with typcial development need extra help—just to get ahead? 

An NPN member posted this question on our discussion forum this week after discovering that many of her friends' young children were enrolled in tutoring programs. Do kindergarteners need this kind of academic challenge, and is this really as perv...

Posted on February 26, 2016 at 11:45 AM by Laura Baginski

The 1 essential skill kids should learn in preschool



As the director of a play-based preschool, I often meet prospective parents who support the idea of letting children play in preschool, but are worried that their child won’t be ready to succeed in Kindergarten. I tell them what my experience has taught me and what research shows: that play is actually the best way to build a strong foundation for all of the skills that kids need in elementary school. Still, they ar...

Posted on February 10, 2016 at 9:32 AM by Laura Pinsof

Overheard on the NPN forum: The CPS quagmire deepens

Photo credit: Flickr/Peoplesworld

Even for someone vitally interested in the outcome of the conflict between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union, it can be very difficult to follow the twists and turns of this unfortunate saga. NPN members have been weighing in on this issue every step of the way on the discussion forum, and offering a voice the media infrequently touches on: Chicago parents. Join the discussion, or just follow the thread to get caught up with th...

Posted on February 05, 2016 at 1:05 PM by Laura Baginski