Early Learning Program (ELP)

Image: ELP Pre-School

Welcome to the Early Learning Program at Darien Public Schools.

The Early Learning Program is an integrated preschool where children with special needs and children with typically developing skills learn from each other in a nurturing environment.  It has been part of the Darien Public School system since 1996. 

Class for Darien residents

The 16 hour a week program for 3 year olds and 4 year olds follows a modified Darien Public Schools calendar.  The classrooms are at Tokeneke, Royle and Ox Ridge Elementary Schools, and Monday through Thursday, from 9:30am to 1:30pm. Site locations cannot be guaranteed.  

ELP Applications for 2019-2020

Applications will be accepted from October 1, 2018 to January 4, 2019 for students who will be turning 3 and 4 years old during the 2019-2020 school year.  At this time, ELP does not have a preschool for Kindergarten age eligible children.  The 2018-2019 School Year tuition is $6,365.00 The Administration is recommending to the Board of Education a 3% increase for the 2019-2020 School Year. A final decision will be made in February.

Parents will be notified/emailed by January 11, 2019 regarding acceptance or wait list status.

Please click the link below to Apply to the Early Learning Program.  


Deposit of $650.00 for accepted students for the 2019-2020 school year is due by February 15, 2019.  Darien Public Schools will notify you of payment options.  

Thank you, 
Laura Straiton, Program Director Early Childhood, SESS, 203-656-7472

General Early Learning Program Information

ELP Calendar 2018-2019 

ELP Parent Handbook- Information specifically regarding ELP students

Accepted Students Registration Link

Photograph Permission Form- For ELP students

Health Services- Health Assessments

Food Services- Information about menu and payments

Early Dismissal – Delays- Early Releases

Delayed Opening   (2 hour and 10 minute delay)

ELP Tokeneke Royle School and Ox Ridge School’s Start times:

8:30 arrivals will start at 10:40 a.m.

9:30 arrivals will start at 11:40 a.m.

**There are two start times for students. **

*Any morning PPTs, or scheduled meetings are canceled.

Emergency Early Dismissal Due to Weather 

Students will be dismissed at 10:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m.

*Afternoon team meetings and PPTs are canceled.

Scheduled Early Dismissal 2018-2019 School Year

Please review the early dismissal times and dates for ELP:

Early Dismissal for ELP Tokeneke, ELP Royle and ELP Ox Ridge is at 12:00 p.m.

  • Early Dismissal (11/21, 12/21, 6/13)
  •  Early Dismissal 12pm ELP due to Elementary Parent Conferences (12/4, 3/19, 3/20,)
  • NO School for ELP ONLY, ELP Parent Conferences: (12/5, 12/6, 12/7, 3/21, 3/22, 5/23, 5/24, 5/28)
  • Staff Development Days, No School for Students (11/6, 1/18, 2/15,)
  • ELP Professional Development No School For ELP (Friday Students: 10/12, 11/9, 1/18, 2/8, 3/8)
  • No School Days, (9/3, 9/10, 9/19, 11/22, 11/23, 12/24-1/1, 2/15-2/22, 4/15-4/19, 5/27)

Darien is now using ASPEN, a secure, Web-based school information management system to collect contact and medical emergency information for your children.

1.  Create an ASPEN account if you don’t have one.  Accounts are issued for your whole family.  Click Here: this is the link for the form to complete and submit the form to get your account started.  Allow at least 2 weeks for processing.  You will receive your username/password at your registered home address.

2.  When you receive your login information, visit the site and review the contact and emergency medical information for each of your children to assure that it is complete and accurate.  Please fill out all tabs for each child.  Your initials are required on the final tab in order for the information to process. Follow this link for step-by-step information http://www.darienps.org/uploaded/content/district/resources/parent_resources/Instructions_for_updating_information_in_Aspen_Updated_1.pdf.

3.  You can update emergency information at any time.  It takes 24 hours for new or updated information to be posted Aspen. If you have any questions or issues with your Aspen account, please email aspen@darienps.org.

4.  Your Aspen account will give you access to School Messenger for email and text alerts related to school closings and changes is school schedules.

Philosophy and Curriculum


The Darien Early Learning Program values each child as an individual learner with unique strengths, needs and interests. We support children to become critical thinkers and social learners. Our play-based learning environments provide daily opportunities for preschool children to be purposeful, creative, inquisitive, flexible, and reflective. As a program designed to meet the needs of all learners, children in our diverse classrooms develop empathy toward others and an appreciation of differences. Families are critical partners in our support of children’s growth and development. 


Our approach to preschool curriculum planning has its foundation in the philosophies of “Emergent Curriculum” and “Project Approach”.  Teachers use a variety of curriculum resources to plan the classroom environment, experiences, interactions, and opportunities for family engagements that are meaningful and relevant to the observed interests of children. The CT Early Learning and Development Standards for Birth to Five detail what children should know and be able to do and serve as the basis for planning. Teachers engage in the cycle of intentional teaching, consistently observing and assessing children’s growth and using this information to plan and implement the highest quality learning experiences. 

ELP Teacher Websites

Tokeneke ELP

Ms. Kristin Iorio

Ms. Ann Appel

Royle ELP

Ms. Jo-Ann Epstein

Ms. Whitney Mullins

Ms. Jessica Markus

Ox Ridge ELP

Ms. Laurie Wigglesworth

Ms. Emily Masino

Concerns about your child's development?

If you have a concern about your child's development between the (ages of 0 months to 2 years 9 months) please contact Connecticut's Birth to Three System.  www.birth23.org or call  800-505-7000

If you have concerns regarding the development of your child, between the ages 2 years 9 months and 6 years old, and a Darien resident, please reach out to Darien Public Schools Program Director for Early Childhood, SESS as well as fill out and return the pre-referral form.

Laura Straiton, Program Director of Early Childhood, SESS

Email: lstraiton@darienps.org

Office 203-656-7472

Please click the link pre-referral link to download the form.

ELP Calendar 

    • MonMay27 Memorial Day (No School)

35 Leroy Avenue Darien, CT 06820     Phone: 203.656.7400     Fax: 203.656.3052
Privacy Policy

School Hours

Darien Public Schools
35 Leroy Avenue
Darien, CT 06801

Phone 203.656.7400
Fax 203.656.3052

Employment Opportunities

Learn about and apply for available jobs at Darien Public Schools.


Health Forms

Please visit the Health Services page for information and required student health and athletics forms.


Darien is now using ASPEN, a secure Web-based information management system to collect contact and medical emergency information and for parents to request non-disclosure of directory information for students.

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