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Early Learning Centers (ELC)



NAEYC Accrediation

The Early Learning Center (ELC) is a comprehensive National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited public preschool program located at Aiken Elementary School and Whiting Lane Elementary School. It is also  designed to meet the needs of West Hartford children between the ages of three and five years old identified with speech and language, developmental, social, behavioral or academic delays. Students with special education needs are referred to the ELC from several sources: parents, community based pre-schools, the State of Connecticut Birth-to-Three Program, teacher, public and private agencies and pediatricians.


  • The ELC program implements the Creative Curriculum for Preschool.  This curriculum is a play-based approach grounded in research and early childhood theory. Teachers plan for and assess your children’s development using the companion assessment tool called Teaching Strategies GOLD.

  • An inclusive program, with approximately 50% students identified with special needs and 50% typically developing peer models per classroom.

  • Children with special needs are determined eligible through the Special Education Planning and Placement Team (PPT) process.

  • Children exhibiting age appropriate development can be considered for the program as Peer Playmates. These children are selected by a screening and lottery process and pay tuition upon entering the program.

  • Located at both Whiting Lane Elementary School and Aiken Elementary School. The ELC Team determines program location for each student based on availability and program needs.  

  • All teachers at the Early Learning Center are dual certified in early childhood education and special education.


  • West Hartford resident

  • Three or Four years of age by October 31st of the intended school year

  • Ability to model age appropriate skills in the areas of social, play, adaptive behaviors, and expressive/receptive communication

  • Completion of the application and participation in our early childhood screening is required

  • Acceptance occurs through Lottery Process


Child Find requires school districts to identify resident children, ages birth to five years, who may be in need of special education services. Through Child Find, WHPS offers evaluations at no charge to determine whether a child has an impairment impacting their development. Following the evaluation, eligible children are referred to appropriate programs and services. If you have questions about his/her development, or suspect that your child may have special education needs, please call our lead secretary, Denise Savignano at 860-233-1455.


  • The Early Learning Center follows the West Hartford Public Schools calendar. Preschool classes meet four days per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday) for a 2.5-hour session.

  • PreK 3 students attend the AM session and PreK 4 students attend the PM session.

  • Session hours are:

    • 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

    • 12:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.


  • There is a $425 materials fee per semester ($850 per school year) for students who are accepted as peer models through the lottery process. 

  • Deadlines related to registration and payment are required to be met in order to ensure acceptance in the Early Learning Center.


  • Parents must complete the ELC Online Application

  • All applications must be completed by January 13, 2023.

  • Applications completed after January 13, 2023 will be added to the waitlist. 

  • Once the application is completed you will be contacted to have your child participate in a play based screening. Child and parent must be available on assigned screening day. 

  • Notification of acceptance into the ELC Program will be sent in mid-late March.

    • If accepted, parents must accept their child’s spot by establishing residency with WHPS and providing a $50 deposit (which will be applied towards tuition cost) by deadline communicated in the acceptance notification. After which we will take students off the waiting list to fill any vacancies that occur.

Pre-K Parent Handbook


Melissa Cook

Department Supervisor of Pupil Services for Early Learning Centers, Whiting Lane, & PreKindergarten at COIA/WebHill/Smith

Denise Savignano

Lead Secretary for the Early Learning Centers at Whiting Lane and Aiken