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Our Story

Children’s Developmental Institute’s Children’s Developmental Institute (CDI) was co-founded in 1969 by Dr. H. L. Walker and Mrs. Diane J. Walker. Since that time, thousands of students have graduated from the Institute’s kindergarten and have gone on to make outstanding academic strides and develop productive careers. The curriculum model at CDI is based on the findings in Dr. Walker’s doctoral dissertation, which studied the measurable impact on children who attended a high-quality, child care center that practices intentional teaching.

Dr. and Mrs. Walker founded the Developmental Institute in 1969. They began their careers as Chicago Public School elementary teachers on the south and west sides of Chicago. With each new class, they began to notice how unprepared their students were for the challenges of a structured classroom environment.

They also recognized that in 1969 there were very few, if any, preschool centers with a curriculum that focused on preparing children to succeed in school. By and large, most preschools, or “nursery schools” as they were called at the time, provided little more than a professional baby-sitting service.

When Dr. and Mrs. Walker began to search for a center to place their oldest son, they refused to settle for the traditional nursery school. Instead, they decided to create their own center. Unlike the traditional nursery school, they designed the curriculum of the Developmental Institute to foster the cognitive, as well as the social, emotional, and physical skills of the children in their care. The integration of exercises to promote a child’s cognitive development was, at the time, “a new idea in day care.” In 1974, Dr. Walker completed his doctoral dissertation, which conclusively demonstrated the superior results of the Developmental Institute curriculum over the traditional nursery school program. This conclusion has guided the growth and refinement of our curriculum over the past forty years. Also during that time, the early education field has grown and developed to a point where educational research and longitudinal studies have documented the long-term benefits of children attending a high-quality preschool program.

Today, just about every child care center claims to offer an educational curriculum. However, at CDI, we are committed to leading the early education field in Chicago – while also maintaining our modern, safe and clean facilities and professionally-designed playgrounds.

Because of our commitment to providing a developmentally-appropriate curriculum that meets the changing needs of the children in our community, and the evolving demands of our elementary schools, we have partnered with the Chicago Public Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program and the Chicago Accreditation Partnership.

We are also committed to providing a professional work environment that rewards our staff, while maintaining a fee schedule that parents can afford.

Our commitment today is the same as it was in 1969 – to provide an early childhood program we would be proud to have our children attend.