July 4th Community Resources > Learn More

ParkSchool
  • 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!

SUCCESSFUL BEGINNINGS FOR A BRIGHT FUTURE

ParkSchool is a fresh new concept in early childhood education that combines modern education methods with the expertise in recreation and access to the natural world that only the Park District can provide. Our educational staff and recreational professionals deliver a new level of  STREAM (science, technology, recreation, engineering, art, and math) for young learners, with the goal of preparing them for success in kindergarten.

FITTING YOUR FAMILY’S NEEDS
ParkSchool offers streamlined options that fit your busy schedule.  At West Ridge, you can choose from morning or afternoon, two to five sessions per week. Four-year-olds have the added opportunity to participate in afternoon nature programs at the 97-acre Heller Nature Center and Rosewood Beach located along the shores of Lake Michigan.

A DAY AT PARKSCHOOL
The sounds of giggles and the buzz of activity fill every nook and cranny at ParkSchool. Youngsters are engaged in technology, science, art, and math lessons, all while keeping safety top of mind.

CHOOSE YOUR CHILD’S PROGRAM

3 EASY STEPS

How do I  know which class to choose for my child?
Choose the program based on your child’s age as of 9/1/2021:

  • 2 years (Sprouts)
  • 3 years (Saplings)
  • 4 years (Mighty Oaks)

Can I choose the length of my child’s day?

  • Choose the length of day your family needs! Choose mornings or afternoons for West Ridge Programs
  • 3 and 4-year-olds can choose a morning or an afternoon, but also have the option of full day programming. You can take advantage of full day programming by registering for a ParkSchool morning program at West Ridge Center and the Plus program in the afternoon. 4-year-olds may choose the afternoon nature option at Heller.
  • 4-year-olds, as another option, can be registered in ParkSchool Nature as stand-alone programs.

Can I choose the number of days my child attends?
Sign up for as many programs as you need to meet your family’s schedule and your child’s interests. Each day is different, so it is never the same curriculum twice! Sign up for multiple days to cover the full week.

Enhanced Health and Safety Procedures:

NEW! Parkschool Plus

Let your Sapling or Mighty Oak experience a full day of school!

Have you been wanting to extend your child’s day at ParkSchool? You’re in luck! This Fall, take advantage of ParkSchool Plus. Designed for Saplings and Mighty Oaks who are enrolled in morning ParkSchool. Your Sapling or Mighty Oak can experience what a typical full day of school is like. Once finishing their morning of ParkSchool curriculum, your child remains at West Ridge Center, and engages in an afternoon enrichment class.

Your child can only be registered for the “Plus” portion of the day if they are currently enrolled in that mornings ParkSchool program. ParkSchool Plus is available Monday-Thursday.

Education Team

Our teachers have dedicated a combined 100 years to the growth and development of children in the Highland Park community. They are 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.

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.

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.

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.

Stephanie Milnarik

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.

Natalie Thompson

Payment Options, Discounts & Scholarships

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.

We also offer a Sibling Discount – save 5% off programs after registering your first child.

To inquire about scholarships through our SMILE program, please contact scholarships@pdhp.org.

lunch

If your child is attending ParkSchool at West Ridge in the morning, please pack a lunch for your child to eat in their classroom near the end of day.

FAQs

Can I meet with someone and learn more about ParkSchool?

Currently, we are not doing in-person tours but can arrange a virtual tour. Please contact Amanda Geoffrion, Recreational Supervisor-Early Childhood Enrichment at 847-579-3121 or ageoffrion@pdhp.org

Does my child need to be potty-trained to participate in ParkSchool?

No!  We are prepared to assist your child in potty-training and diapering.

How many children are in each class?

A maximum of 10 children (Saplings and Mighty Oaks); maximum of 6 children (Sprouts)

What if I change my mind? Can I get my money back?

You can cancel your registration if the request is submitted at least 10 days prior to the program start date; A $100 refund service fee will be assessed per ParkSchool program.

Refunds are not available less than 10 days prior to the program start date.

What if the program is not a good fit for my child after it starts? Can I get a refund?

Attend the first two classes and communicate your concerns to the instructor so we can make attempts to modify the program; if the program is still not the right fit, we will happily apply the Good Time Guarantee.

What is a typical day in the classroom like?

All age groups have childhood enrichment curriculums designed around the STREAM system; this stands for Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Throughout the session various topics and themes are reviewed using these elements

There is a focus on social/emotional growth and independence, motor skill progression, peer collaboration and kindergarten readiness

What is the difference between ParkSchool and Nature ParkSchool?

These are complementary 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.

What is the student/teacher ratio?

5:1 (Sapling/Mighty Oaks); 3:1 (Sprouts)