In the fall of 2018 we took over Songbird Academy with an idea that it would serve as a great starting point for curating a new concept in childcare. At the time we had a relatively simple idea. Offer the best compensation package and the most supportive working environment for the teaching staff and it would create the most engaged and motivated teaching team. This team in turn would then deliver the highest quality care possible and would be highly differentiated from the staff of most if not all other providers. Fast forward to today and Songbird has blossomed into what we now understand as a very unique new concept. Getting the magic to happen wasn’t easy (especially with extreme labor shortages, a pandemic, and out of control inflation) but we are very confident that when you take a closer look, you will find that we offer an experience for your children that is unmatched.
Our mission is to provide access to the best private preschool and infant care staff in the City of Chicago and we go far above and beyond what all others do to recruit and retain our team. Back in the fall of 2021 we decided that we would no longer make compensation an issue for those candidates who meet our extremely high standards. To do this we simply started paying these exceptional candidates more than anyone else would. In addition, we are committed to maintaining this differentiator so if other centers increase wages, we respond by raising ours to ensure we remain at the top of the scale. Similarly, we do the same for our existing staff. If anyone has been offered a higher salary by another center, we will beat that offer so they remain at Songbird. Since instituting this policy, we haven’t lost a single candidate or existing staff member to another childcare center. Of course, we still have turnover, but it is significantly limited compared to others. In addition to offering the best wages in the city, we offer an unparalleled flexible and supportive working environment, generous PTO and benefits program and full tuition reimbursement. Our low student teacher ratios ensure that teachers can focus on the most fufilling part of the their jobs providing the individualized care that is a hallmark of Songbird. We have also developed an extremely selective recruiting and on-boarding process that ensures we are able to find the best of the best. Through this process we turn away most of the candidates that apply and we only select those that are truly stand out. In addition, we also require everyone to take part in our 90-day apprenticeship program to ensure that they meet our high standards and that they will be happy long-term as a member of the Songbird staff.
Our play-based educational philosophy takes its inspiration from the Reggio Emilia approach. At its core is an understanding that children learn best when they are engaged and interested, and children are most engaged and interested when they explore things they are curious about. It sounds simple but getting the magic to happen takes a strong commitment from the teaching staff and from a school that believes in the power of the approach. Songbird Academy has invested heavily in creating a unified curriculum from infant to pre-school that fosters children who desire to learn and who love to learn and nothing is a better predictor of future happiness and success than love and desire.
At Songbird we believe in catering to the specific needs of each child and to demonstrate our commitment to this concept, we frequently add teaching staff to specific classrooms to reduce student teacher ratios below DCFS requirements. This ensures that teachers have the necessary time to devote to each child.
Children are tiny humans and like the rest of us they feel better when they exercise and spend time outside, when their minds are calm, and when they eat good food. At Songbird we make a big effort to ensure that these basic human needs are satisfied for each child. Weather permitting we strive to get outside everyday and exercise. We also teach yoga and techniques like structured breathing to calm young minds. In addition, we have spent a lot time and energy researching and testing most of the catering companies in the chicagoland area and we are proud to have selected ChildEats who provide a level of service and quality of food a step above everyone else. Their chef, Chef Vitaliy is critically-acclaimed by adults and top-rated by kids. He specializes in customizing meals to specific diatary needs so every child can enjoy our amazing food.
In our care, Bluebirds will thrive, as they are encouraged to move their little bodies and engage their scientific minds in a language rich environment. Bluebirds are constantly surrounded by songs, stories, and human contact. As Bluebirds grow and reach their “firsts”, we give them opportunities to explore and offer our hands to hold. Bluebirds will fall in love and begin to flap their wings while teachers observe their curiosities and praise their interactions. Parents will receive daily journals of their Bluebird’s day, highlighting development and play-based experiences. We make our nest as cozy, bright and nurturing as home.
Mockingbirds actively explore practicing their newfound mobility, problem solving with meaning and communicating with words. In our safe and trusting environment, they express their emotions through imaginative play and learn to empathize with storybook characters. As Mockingbirds begin chirping together, teachers provide a model and encourage pro social behaviors. Parents will hear an explosion of words and see an emerging artist and personality. We nurture Mockingbirds to be here, there and everywhere.
Larks are quick and clever Songbirds. They are driven to practice and build on emerging competencies and develop new skills. Larks’ days are structured utilizing the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. The curriculum includes circle time, story time, short and long-term projects, gross and fine motor activities and thematic centers. Small groups are planned daily and tailored to engage each child at their developmental level. Larks develop friendships, notice others and are proud of all they can do. They are eager to share their adventures and wonderings with others. Teachers establish structure and accountability through positive reinforcement and the expectation of kindness. Activities are experiential, exploratory and intentional; teaching is in the context of everyday activities and for authentic purposes. Parents will watch logical thinking, story-telling and multi-step problem-solving abilities unfold in their Lark. We connect Lark’s intense interest in learning to real-world experiences.
Cardinals are engaged in a Reggio Emilia-inspired classroom and curriculum. Cardinals flock to each other, embrace friendship, develop cooperation and negotiation skills. Friendship evolves from playing side-by-side to being more interactive based on a shared idea. Cardinals compare themselves with each other, expecting to be noticed, accepted and praised. Cardinals are eager investigators with an interest to learn about a variety of topics and ultimately ‘strut their stuff’. They can understand the reasons for rules and the positive and negative consequences of their actions. Teachers invite Cardinals to participate in lessons and lead in problem solving. They engage in back-and-forth conversation with teachers, answer and ask questions and are given just enough individualized support during the learning process that they can achieve their learning goals. Parents will hear an expanded vocabulary and see an understanding of math concepts. The Cardinal classroom will focus on literacy development, language and writing skills. In our classrooms, we develop a sense of discovery and awareness in your Cardinal creating a capable, little Songbird ready to fly.
We have spent a lot time and energy researching and testing most of the catering companies in the chicagoland area and we are proud to have selected ChildEats who provide a level of service and quality of food a step above everyone else. Their chef, Chef Vitaliy is critically-acclaimed by adults and top-rated by kids.
Music is completely integrated into the Songbird curriculum. In addition to each classroom being equipped with a cadre of age appropriate musical instruments, teachers engage students in singing songs and music based movement throughout the day.
We currently provide Spanish language two times per week for our Mockingbirds (early toddlers) through Cardinals (pre-primary) children.
Songbird is committed to a unified approach to nurturing mind and body. We provide yoga instruction two times per week and have integrated mindfulness into the curriculum throughout the day.
Our belief is that kids should be outside every day for as much time as possible. Exercise, fresh air, and natural surroundings provide a natural calming influence and enable better concentration and attention for the inside parts of the day.
1908 W Montrose, Chicago IL 60613
(a block from the CTA Brown line)
1243 W Belmont, Chicago IL 60657
(3 blocks from the CTA Brown and Red lines)