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4 Reasons Why We’re Impressed by The Park District of Highland Park’s ParkSchool!

February 6, 2020 in I Adore What I Love, Local Love
4 REASONS WHY WE'RE IMPRESSED BY THE PARK DISTRICT OF HIGHLAND PARK'S PARKSCHOOL! :: I Adore What I Love Blog :: www.iadorewhatilove.com #iadorewhatilove

This post is in partnership with The Park District of Highland Park located in Highland Park, IL. As always, all opinions are 100% honest, my own, and never influenced by anyone. Thank you for supporting businesses that make I Adore What I Love possible =)


As a former teacher, education is everything to me. My kids are my pride and joy and with that, I’ve always been a big supporter of early childhood education. As young parents, my husband and I are fortunate to be able to send our kids to great pre-school programs. This year is no different! Last winter, when I had first heard about the Park District of Highland Park’s new enrichment program happening at West Ridge – called ParkSchool – to start in August of 2019, I was interested to learn more!

Brody was already going to West Ridge for extra-curricular classes after his mornings at Jewish pre-school. He took a phonics class there and his teachers were excellent. That’s where he learned his letters and letter sounds! Plus, I already knew I liked the environment in the building as a whole. All the staff members have always been super friendly and helpful which makes the whole facility comfortable for everyone.

So, as I heard more buzz about ParkSchool, I decided to do a little research about the program myself. I also attended an informational meeting for parents about it put on by the Park District of Highland Park! I knew this program was going to be something special after reading about it, but then when I went to the meeting, I was literally BLOWN AWAY!!!

Fast forward to NOW, and Brody has been in ParkSchool since the beginning of this 2019-2020 school year. He goes twice a week for 3 hours at a time. To say that he is truly obsessed with it is an understatement! Every morning, he wakes up and wants me to tell him what he has on tap for the day. When he hears that it’s a ParkSchool day, his whole face lights up! This is not a joke – sometimes he will even scream “Yayyyy, ParkSchool today!!!!” He truly loves it and for good reason!

If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember when I spoke about how awesome ParkSchool is via my instastories. Below, I’m going to share 4 reasons why this program is SO SUPER SPECIAL. And more specifically, why my family loves it and continues to be incredibly IMPRESSED by it!

ParkSchool Follows The S.T.R.E.A.M curriculum

To start, the ParkSchool program is incredibly hands-on. They follow the S.T.R.E.A.M curriculum. This means Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Art, and Math are all incorporated into the program schedule for every early childhood age-level. Everything the teachers do is purposeful and educational. Every activity the students do is meaningful, with zero fluff.

One aspect to the S.T.R.E.A.M program that I’m absolutely in love with {and so is Brody} is that they introduce the children to activities like tennis, golf, art, dance, gymnastics, nature, and athletics. These activities are not only fun to try out, but it allows the young students to develop fine and gross motor skills. Which just so happen to be the skills that are essential to successful learning. The Park District does this by bringing in professional staff from their other Park District departments. It’s one of the most unique and awesome aspects of the program!

Every ParkSchool Teacher Is a True Gem

I’m not going to lie, something I’ve learned about myself since Brody started pre-school is that I’m totally one of those parents who’s picky about the teachers my kids have. I’m not saying I’m proud of this trait but more likely than not, it’s probably because I’m a former teacher myself. I know the profession so well. Anyways! Right here, right now, I’m going to go on record to say something with the utmost truth behind it… every single ParkSchool teacher facilitating his classroom has been a complete and total GEM.

I mean it, his ParkSchool teachers are truly one-of-a-kind type teachers. Like, they deserve golden-apple awards type teachers. And I don’t say that lightly. I am continuously impressed by how wonderful, warm, and knowledgable they all have been. They know how to run a classroom like clockwork, it’s a structured environment but also loving, and I truly believe that the kids feed off of their positive energy. Brody’s current main teacher, Ms. Ginny, has so many tools up her sleeve to make sure she’s serving her students in the best way possible and it shows!!! I wish I could be a fly on the wall in the classroom!

The Parent-Teacher Communication is Top-Notch

It addition to any in-person conversations needed, the ParkSchool teachers utilize a program on their website called Sway. Each week, parents receive an email when the Sway page is updated. It details out:

  • exactly what the kids did that week during ParkSchool
  • clues you into the topics and themes they’re learning about in class
  • and there is an entire area designated to where photos are posted of the kids in action!

I love the weekly Sway page updates because I get to hear about what Brody is LEARNING and I get to see what he’s DOING. The smiles on all these kids faces each week are pretty telling. It’s obvious that they’re having fun and that they LOVE being there!

ParkSchool Just Won The Program of the Year Award

This is a huge deal!!!!!! But, I’m not surprised!! 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 ParkSchool early childhood program. This is the IPRA’s top award for outstanding and unique achievements in the development and implementation of a program. It’s only given to one agency out of over 2,000 from across Illinois. Wow!!

What’s really an accomplishment to me is that the Park District of Highland Park won this award in their FIRST year of implementing their new ParkSchool program!! When I heard about this, I was absolutely thrilled for them because I know how deserving they are of it. And I feel so proud that my son is apart of the ParkSchool program during such an exciting time! To learn more about this award, click HERE.


So, there you have it! FYI – you don’t have to be a Highland Park resident to send your child{ren} to ParkSchool!!! With that, registration is coming up so don’t delay! Residents can register beginning at 7:00 AM on Wednesday, February 12th. Non-residents can register beginning at 7:00 AM on February 19th. Mark your calendars!!

Please email this post to local friends who have early childhood aged kids! {You can use the pink envelope button below!} My goal with local posts like this one is to always be helpful to our North Shore community. I would appreciate your help in getting my blog posts to those who they pertain to. And I thank you in advance!! Feel free to PIN this post, too!

PS follow me on Instagram HERE for all the mom tips and tricks! Follow the Park District of Highland Park on Instagram HERE for news and events happening at the Park District! And if you have any other questions about the ParkSchool program, just ask! Xox

2 Comments

  • Justine February 6, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    It sounds like such an awesome program, thanks for sharing it!!

    • Dana Ivy February 6, 2020 at 9:38 pm

      Thank you for reading, Justine!! It’s an awesome program – and I hope I can help other local parents make informed decisions about sending their kids there!! Xox

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    Welcome!!

    My Name is Dana Ivy.

    Hey hey! I’m a MOM of two, here to share and I’m so happy you found me!! As a Chicago lifer {currently settled in the North Shore ‘burbs}, self-admitted shopping addict, and foodie, at the core I’m really just a mom {and a wife, gotta give a shout-out to my hubby!} just trying to balance it all! My two crazy toddler boys, Brody {who’s 4} and Levi {who’s 2} are my whole entire world and while being their mom is the BEST thing ever, it ain’t always easy! The chaos is real and because I adore mom life SO MUCH, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you?? I created this space for all the moms out there who are just trying to get by... I want to help make your lives a little easier, one blog post at a time! Join me on my quest to share allll the mom tips, simple style ideas, REALLY easy recipes {if I can do it, you can do it!!}, and our travels. Read More.

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