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ParkSchool

(ages 2-4)
ParkSchool introduces your  2-year-old (Sprout), 3 -year-old (Sapling), and 4-year-old (Mighty Oak) to learning through our innovative educational method called STREAM (Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). Through S.T.R.E.A.M. we provide your child with a new level of learning, discovery, and independence while preparing them for kindergarten.  Come explore an amazing fresh approach to the childhood enrichment experience.

Successful beginnings for a bright future… 

For Health & Safety procedures click here

                                     

Select A Page:

Fall 2021 & Winter/Spring 2022 Registration going on now!

Sprouts (2s) – Click here

Saplings (3s) – Click here

Mighty Oaks (4s) – Click here

 

At ParkSchool… we encourage your child to question, explore, and discover.  Our unique curriculum nurtures your child’s curiosities and individuality, builds self-confidence and social skills, and prepares your child for kindergarten. ParkSchool curriculum is designed to support kindergarten preparedness, social skills and a mastery of fine and gross motor skills through our STREAM based education approach. What is STREAM? STREAM is education based in Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Art, and Math!  Your child will be able to participate in our STREAM play-based lessons and proactive collaborative problem-solving skills daily. Our teachers customize each Pre-K lesson plan to provide opportunities for independent discovery, cooperative learning and outdoor playtime to help each child develop skills for kindergarten-readiness

ParkSchool Schedule (Choose 1-5 days, morning OR afternoon, or all five days-M-F)
9:10-11:25a (Morning);
12:45-3p (Afternoon)

Benefits at a Glance

  • Exposure to Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STREAM)
  • Gain an appreciation for the natural world
  • Development of sensory, cognitive, and motor skills
  • Opportunity to cultivate meaningful friendships and peer collaboration
  • Attain independence through critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Build confidence through the exploration of self-expression and creativity

ParkSchool prepares your child for the next important step:  Ready… Set… Kindergarten!

Age Groups

An important goal of ParkSchool is preparing each child for kindergarten. To ensure children learn alongside their peers, age groups are based on the age of each child as of  September 1.

Important Upcoming Dates (2021)

  • ParkSchool Registration, Payment Option Deadlines, and Start Date
    • July 31 – Deadline for Early Bird Discount
    • July 31 – Deadline for Fall Payment Option
    • Aug 30 – Fall classes begin this week
    • Nov 30 – Deadline for Winter/Spring Payment Option

 

Enhanced Health and Safety Procedures:

  • Everyone will wear a mask at all times when indoors, regardless of social distancing
  • Eliminating eating in ParkSchool
  • Classroom  arranged to allow for 6 feet social distance between students
  • HVAC air ventilation and UV air filtration system
  • Frequent handwashing including upon arrival, in between activities, after bathroom use, and before departure
  • Limiting sharing by providing children with a designated seat, individual supply kit, and storage area
  • West Ridge remains closed to the public, pick up and drop off is outdoors
  • Participating in socially distant outdoor activities when the weather allows
  • Increased cleaning and sanitizing between classes and activities
  • Required Self-Health Assessments completed by everyone before arrival
  • Sending those who have symptoms of illness home immediately, and following recommended protocols regarding communication to families, and allowing participants back to the facility

Contacts

Liz Visteen, Recreation Supervisor
847.579.3123
lvisteen@pdhp.org
Meghan Meredith, Naturalist 
847.579.4183
mmeredith@pdhp.org
Registration Office 
847.579.3128
registrations@pdhp.org

Philosophy

We believe that creating a strong love of exploration and curiosity early in a child’s life establishes a pattern of lifelong learning. Success is measured by nurturing and celebrating each child’s individual development. We embrace experiential project-based activities that enable children to discover their true potential—methods that encourage them to question, explore, and discover. It is through ParkSchool’s unique blend of a supportive warm environment and discovery-based play that children can truly expand their imagination, acquire a confidence and inquisitiveness that allows them to establish a Successful Beginning for a Bright Future of Learning.

Our Team

Every child deserves a positive early learning experience in an environment that encourages self-expression and discovery. Combined, our teachers have dedicated over 100 years to the growth and development of children in the Highland Park community. Their experience and education make them uniquely qualified to create an ideal classroom environment; while giving you the comfort of knowing professionals are caring for and nurturing your child’s special qualities and talents.

 

Olivia Aigner
Olivia has been an integral part of our ParkSchool program since its inception. She comes to the Park District with extensive experience in summer camp counseling, ages 5-11, and nanny services. Olivia has a flare for creating enriching and engaging childhood programs that captivate the imagination of our youngest patrons. She earned her degree in Arts Management from Columbia College-Chicago and continues important work in a non-profit organization that generates documentaries highlighting social justice in Chicago.
Amy Banner
Amy has been a Naturalist with Heller Nature Center at the Park District of Highland Park for a short time, but has worked in the outdoors or with children for over 10 years. Throughout her professional life, she has been an outdoor educator, naturalist, coach, and camp counselor. In these positions, she taught elementary and middle school students about the wonders of their ecosystems and the importance of teamwork. She loves being outdoors to look for wildflowers or wildlife and enjoys the atmosphere of a campfire or a clear night sky.
Samia Bokhari
After earning a degree in Business, Samia joined the ParkSchool team and has brought unique perspectives and experiences. As a Teacher’s Aide, she works closely with children ages 1- 5 yrs old and brings laughter and enjoyment to our classrooms. Her nurturing personality and desire to make positive changes in childhood education stems from her involvement in local PTOs and holding school board positions.
Lori Cohen
Lori has a Bachelors of Science degree in Art Education and is the lead Art Specialist for ParkSchool. Her creative nature and science based art programs have been engaging children for over 30 years. She focuses on PreK-8th grade and most recently has become an integral part of our summer camp art programs. Lori continues to develop successful curricula to compliment ParkSchool's STREAM educational approach. Much of her inspiration comes from her love of hiking and being outdoors.
Michela Emmerich
Michela recently graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Graphic Design. She has been working for the Park District of Highland Park for four years as a Summer Camp Counselor, Assistant Summer Camp Director and Before Camp Director. She enjoys helping children learn, grow, and explore their surroundings, especially nature. In her free time she enjoys being outside, hiking and spending time with friends, family, and dog.
Belle Kolman
Belle’s education background is in Early Childhood Development and she has been in the field for over 25 years. Most of these years have been at the Park District of Highland Park with a focused experience on ages 1-10 yrs old. Belle continues to successfully develop and implement engaging programs that are well known throughout the Highland Park community. Her long tenure with the Park District of Highland Park is representative of her commitment to enrich ParkSchool programs and the lives of children and families through high quality early education. Belle is excited to manage the Saplings (3 year old) program for ParkSchool.
Dagmara Krowka
Dagmara brings several years of teaching experience as a teacher's aide and seven years of teaching Polish language and culture to children ages 5-10 in extracurricular weekend classes, developing and implementing creative art-based after school and summer activities for preschool age children. Dagmara holds a masters degree in Cultural Studies from the University of Silesia in Poland. She is currently enrolled in childhood enrichment classes to further her education and skill set.
Meghan Meredith Meghan has an extensive environmental education background with an Illinois Teaching License and a master’s degree in Environmental Studies. She has 6 years of public school teaching and has been involved with several environmental education programs within Chicagoland. Meghan loves to share her passion for learning outdoors. Here at the Park District Meghan has used her creativity and passion to develop several learning experiences for all ages within the community. Much of her teaching style comes from her enthusiasm, knowledge and curiosity in nature. Meghan looks forward to managing Heller Nature Center's Mighty Oaks Nature Program (4 year old) for ParkSchool.
Shannon Rowe
Shannon is thrilled to be leading our Sprouts program. She is a warm, nurturing educator and comes to us with six years of experience working directly with children ages 3-5. She has worked several years as a Montessori Art Teacher, designed and implemented art history programs, as well as led our Park District of Highland Park summer camp programs. Shannon has a formal education with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. Her most recent roles include teaching pre-k and kindergarten programs at a northern local park district. During this time, Shannon planned, developed, and implemented multifaceted curriculum for three and four-year-old preschool children as well as for Kindergarten; similar to ParkSchool.
Ginny Schwalbach
Ginny began her journey with the Park District of Highland Park in 1985 after earning a degree in Child Psychology. She has been in the field of early childhood education and enrichment for over 34 years. Ginny has developed revolutionary programs which have become main stays in the Highland Park community for early childhood enrichment. Her strengths lie in her ability to captivate, engage, and provide a unique learning environment for children. She continues to update her programs to meet contemporary standards of early childhood education while collaborating with parents on an individual’s interests and needs. Ginny is excited to oversee the West Ridge Center's Mighty Oaks (4 year old) program at ParkSchool.

 

Sprouts (Age 2 as of Sep. 1) – Register Here!

In our program, we explore numbers, colors, and letters through amazing art, silly story time, and hands on fine motor skill development, to help prepare your little one for the Saplings program. Min 4/Max 6.

Nutrition

  • Morning participants should arrive to class having had a healthy breakfast
  • Afternoon participants should arrive to class having had a healthy lunch

Funology Friday (Ages 2 as of Sep. 1)

The fun continues on Fridays! Our focus is on fresh and exciting themes that captivate the imagination within your child. Fast paced games use all five senses, messy art projects promote creativity and crazy concoctions based on science invite inquiry. Includes exercise and fun brain games.  Choose Your Location: West Ridge Center or Rosewood Beach Interpretive Center.   Funology Fridays at Rosewood are nature themed.

Back by Popular demand.. S’more Parkschool & Camp Tot Stop! Click here to register & learn more.

Saplings (Age 3 as of Sep 1) – Register Here!

Designed around the philosophy that each child is a unique individual. Our goal is to encourage independence, introduce group collaboration, the development of critical thinking and socialization skills. Students are exposed to letters, numbers, cooking, art, stories and circle time. Advancing fine and gross motor skills development is an integral part of each day. Number and letter recognition are the foundation for progression to the Mighty Oaks. Location: West Ridge Center. Potty Training not required to participate. Register for a morning OR afternoon program only. 

Nutrition 

  • Morning participants should arrive to class having had a healthy breakfast
  • Afternoon participants should arrive to class having had a healthy lunch

Funology Friday (Ages 3 as of Sep. 1)

The fun continues on Fridays! Our focus is on fresh and exciting themes that captivate the imagination within your child. Fast paced games use all five senses, messy art projects promote creativity and crazy concoctions based on science invite inquiry. Includes exercise and fun brain games.

Back by Popular demand.. S’more Parkschool & Camp Tot Stop! Click here to register & learn more.

Mighty Oaks (Age 4 as of  Sep 1) – Register Here!

Focus on active involvement and group collaboration. Our goal is to promote individualized opportunities to evoke creative and more advanced critical thinking. Your child is exposed to amazing experiences including erupting volcanos, icky sticky slime, and larger than life engineering – experiences that empower your child to ask questions about the world around them and the unlimited possibilities.  Location: West Ridge Center

Nutrition

  • Morning participants should arrive to class having had a healthy breakfast
  • Afternoon participants should arrive to class having had a healthy lunch

Prepare for full-day kindergarten with full-day ParkSchool

…by combining a morning ParkSchool West Ridge program with an afternoon Mighty Oaks Nature program.  Transportation in between classes is not provided.

Mighty Oaks Nature Program (Age 4 as of  Sep. 1) – Register Here!
Location: Rosewood Beach Interpretive Center (Tue/ Thu)  OR  Heller Nature Center (Mon/Wed)

Our goal is for your child to grow a strong sense of self, mindfulness, creativity, exploration and empathy in our connections to one another and the natural world. Classes spend every day outdoors learning in various environments, from the beaches and ravine of Rosewood to the woodland and prairie of Heller.  Nature is the driving force behind child-led learning through play, sensory, gross and fine motor activities and  creative expression. Location: Heller Nature Center/Rosewood Beach Interpretive Center

Funology Friday (Ages 4 as of Sep. 1)
Choose your location  

The fun continues on Fridays! Our focus is on fresh and exciting themes that captivate the imagination within your child. Fast paced games use all five senses, messy art projects promote creativity and crazy concoctions based on science invite inquiry. Includes exercise and fun brain games.  Choose Your Location: West Ridge Center or Rosewood Beach Interpretive Center.   Funology Fridays at Rosewood are nature themed.

Back by Popular demand.. S’more Parkschool & Camp Tot Stop! Click here to register & learn more.

 

 

For 2021-2022 ParkSchool –

Choose Your Child’s Program… 4 Easy Steps

  1. How do I know which class to choose?
  2. Can I choose the length of my child’s day?
    • YES, for 2-3 year old children choose mornings OR afternoons for West Ridge Programs. Add Early Risers OR Afternoon Adventures to extend your day.
      • Four-year-olds have a full day option.  Register for an AM West Ridge program and a PM Nature program.  Transportation between programs is not provided.
      • Nature programs are also available as stand alone programs.
  3. Can I choose the number of days my child attends?
    • YES, each day is different! Sign up for multiple days for a well rounded pre-k experience.
    • Register for each section to create a 5 day schedule for your child.
  4. Can I sign up for the Winter/Spring session now?
    • YES, Both the Fall session and Winter/Spring sessions are available for registration as of February 10th.

Discounts & Scholarships

ParkSchool Payment Options
(Now available for all sections!)

Childhood enrichment opportunities should be accessible to everyone. With no added fees, our ParkSchool payment plan allows you to make equal installment payments over the course of several months. For your convenience, these payments are automatically deducted from the credit card used at the time of registration.

Fall Session : Five Equal Installments (deadline to register using the payment plan:  July 31, 2021)
• 1st installment due at the time of registration
• Next four equal installments due on the 5th of each month August-November

Winter/Spring Session : Six Equal Installments (deadline to register using the payment plan:  November 30, 2021)
• 1st installment due at the time of registration
• Next five equal installments due on the 5th of each month December-April

Winter Brochure Information

  • What is the difference between ParkSchool and Nature ParkSchool
    • These are complimentary components of the same program. Each program focuses on kindergarten readiness using the STREAM system; the major difference is the location and themes. Nature ParkSchool focuses on the environment, ecology, and other nature elements.