On Friday, January 24, the Park District of Highland Park was presented with the 2020 Illinois Park and Recreation Association’s (IPRA) Outstanding Program Award for the Park District’s new ParkSchool early childhood program. The award was presented at the IPRA annual business meeting held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. It is the association’s top award given to one agency out of over 2,000 from across Illinois for outstanding and unique achievements in the development and implementation of a program. The Park District of Highland Park won the IPRA Outstanding Facility Award for the renovation of Sunset Valley Golf Club in 2019 and Rosewood Beach in 2016.
“We are very pleased to kick off the new year with this significant honor and recognition from IPRA,” commented Brian Kaplan, President of the Board of Commissioners for the Park District of Highland Park. “It has been gratifying to work cooperatively with Highland Park families and our dedicated staff to create this one-of-a-kind program.”
Based on the extensive parent feedback, in the Fall of 2019, the new ParkSchool opened its doors, offering Highland Park a fresh new concept in early childhood education.
What sets ParkSchool apart, is a new combination of modern early childhood education methods along with the expertise in recreation and access to the natural world that only the Park District can provide. The educational staff partnered with the Park District’s entire team of recreational professionals to deliver a new level of STREAM (science, technology, recreation, engineering, art, and math) for young learners.
Core to ParkSchool is introducing children to activities like tennis, golf, art, dance, gymnastics, nature, and athletics to develop
fine and gross motor skills that are essential to successful learning. Professional staff from our golf and tennis clubs, athletics and performing arts departments, gymnastics, and nature centers teach ParkSchool students the fundamentals of sports and creative movement.
The program’s progressive curriculum with creative projects and interactive lessons embraces children’s natural curiosity and builds toward kindergarten-readiness. Children build confidence, learn to follow instructions, receive a progressive introduction to reading, writing, color, number and letter recognition, and develop social skills to form friendships through sharing, collaborating, and creative expression.
It is a priority at ParkSchool to foster a sense of community. Through weekly communication, newsletters, and evening events, the goal is to connect parents within our community who have children of similar ages and interests. Events include our Introduction to ParkSchool evening held in early Fall, a Fall Family Campfire, and a Graduation Day event in May.