FAMILY Learning and Activities.
While your children are at home, it’s important to help them keep their skills sharp, their bodies active, and allow them to have some fun. Check out these resources for e-learning, play, discovery, and more! Check back often as we continue to update with more resources.
The Chicago Early Learning Preschool Application Launch
The Chicago Early Learning preschool application launched on April 21, 2021. There are 600+ Chicago Public Schools and Community Based programs located in the city. Choose the best program for your family.
Newly Updated, FREE Application for Teachers, Parents, and Caregivers: CDC’s Milestone Tracker
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers know the importance of tracking children’s developmental milestones; now there’s a new version of the FREE app from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help make tracking development easy, fun, and a great way to engage parents and caregivers. CDC’s Milestone Tracker app helps providers, teachers, parents, and caregivers better understand each child’s skills and abilities, track and celebrate developmental milestones, and share developmental progress from ages two months through five years.
The app offers:
- Parent-friendly, interactive developmental milestone checklists adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics;
- The ability to complete a checklist using corrected age for children born prematurely;
- Photos and videos to help parents recognize milestones;
- Tips and activities for supporting early development and sharing concerns;
- The option to complete a checklist in English or Spanish;
- Appointment and developmental screening reminders; and
- The ability to see a summary of a child’s developmental progress in English or Spanish.
This app helps parents and caregivers understand, support, and celebrate their child’s developmental milestones and know when to act early if they have concerns. For more information visit www.cdc.gov/MilestoneTracker.
New IDHS Crisis Counseling Program to Support Communities Hardest Hit by COVID-19
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is launching Illinois-Strong, a pilot program to provide community-based crisis counseling to individuals in Cook, Winnebago and St. Clair Counties who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The program focuses on helping disaster survivors understand their reactions and connect with other individuals and agencies that may assist them in improving their situations.
Staff members who provide individual crisis counseling are active listeners who offer reassurance, practical assistance, and emotional support, while teaching behavioral techniques for coping with stress.
Illinois-Strong will offer disaster-related relief services to individuals identified through individual and group interactions. For additional information on this program, visit Illinois-Strong.org.
New "Understanding Inclusion" Series
Early CHOICES and the Early Intervention Training Program at the University of Illinois announced a new Understanding Inclusion series of bite-size videos with embedded resources and activities. This series was developed with families and for families to help understand, promote, and advocate for inclusion for children birth to age five.
This new resource is useful to families, practitioners, service coordinators, educators, and administrators in Early Intervention or early childhood. Each topic has a guide to support understanding; topic guides can be used as a companion tool for the learner and as a stand-alone tool to help facilitate discussions and extend learning opportunities.
Click here to access this new series on the Early CHOICES website.
Click here for an infographic overview of the six modules in the series.
Videos to Help Parents Promote Learning At Home
The Latino Policy Forum has created a short video to help parents promote early learning in their homes. The video is available in both English and Spanish.
Additionally, the Latino Policy Forum is offering virtual workshops at no cost to those serving English Learners and their families. A description of the workshops can be found here. Those interested in attending a workshop can contact Rosario Hernandez.
New Report - Closer to Home: More Equitable Pre-K Access and Enrollment in Chicago
In the virtual event, “Advancing Equity in Pre-K Access and Enrollment in Chicago: A Conversation with Researchers, Policymakers and Parent Leaders,” Start Early partnered with researchers from NORC at the University of Chicago and the UChicago Consortium on School Research to present results from their new study of Chicago’s school-based pre-K system: Closer to Home: More Equitable Pre-K Access and Enrollment in Chicago. Findings from this study show that improving access to full-day pre-K programs may be an effective policy strategy for increasing enrollment among high-priority student groups and making educational opportunities more equitable. To view the recording of the webinar on the Start Early website, click here.
Early Childhood-Focused Homelessness Resources
Under the initial PDG B-5 grant, GOECD collaborated with the Illinois Early Learning Project at U of I to create a collection of homelessness resources for providers and families. The webpage contains various tip sheets, toolkits, and podcasts detailing topics such as the rights of families experiencing homelessness, food and nutrition, and family well-being. The focus of the toolkits are statewide, publicly available resources to assist both families with young children experiencing homelessness, as well as their early childhood providers. Several relevant podcasts are also available, detailing the impact of trauma on young children and the role of family voice in early childhood programs.
A Media Mentorship Forum and Workshop
New Directions for Guiding Families, Educators, and Kids Through the Digital Deluge
Join New America's Education Policy Program for a national forum on how media mentorship meets this moment, co-hosted by Chicago Public Library, Skokie Public Library, and Schaumburg Township District Library. Speakers from across the country will address key questions about equity and access, family engagement, media literacy, and learning in the age of Covid and beyond. The final day is an open workshop for librarians and other educators looking to develop innovations and build new outreach efforts into their programming for 2021.
Watch the recording of the webinar here.
For Families with Children Enrolled in Chicago Public Schools (CPS)
- Internet Access: Chicago Connected is a groundbreaking program that will provide free high-speed internet service to approximately 100,000 Chicago CPS students. This first-of-its-kind program will be one of the largest and longest-term efforts by any city to provide free, high-speed internet over the course of four years to increase internet access for students. Chicago families can click here to check their eligibility.
- Meal Sites: As of Tuesday, September 8, CPS has established more than 450 meal sites for the 2020–21 school year. Students, parents, or guardians may pick up free meals at the nearest school from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please find the nearest meal distribution site using this map. If families are unable to visit a meal site in-person, the district will continue to provide free delivery for those who need additional support.
Chicago Public Schools Remote Learning Resources
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has compiled this list of remote learning tips and strategies.
Chicago Public Schools is offering online Enrichment Learning Resources
for all levels. They include a range of activities that students can work on at home independently, with family members, or with other adults.
Remote Learning: How to Make Virtual Learning Sessions a Success!
Remote Learning for Diverse Learners
During the state-mandated school closures in response to COVID-19, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) is following the most up-to-date guidance issued by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the United States Department of Education. For the most up-to-date information regarding the district’s response to COVID-19, visit: cps.edu/coronavirus. If you would like to receive updates from ODLSS, complete this form.
For frequently asked questions please visit this link.
Chicago Public Schools Child Learning Hubs
Chicago Public Schools now has a new website with more information on the Child Learning Hubs. The Child Learning Hubs give eligible families a safe space for children to do remote learning while supervised by an adult. Learn more about how to enroll and if you are eligible by visiting their website: https://www.cps.edu/school-reopening-2020/remote-learning-guide/preparing-for-school/child-learning-hubs/
U.S. Department of Education Releases Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide
The U.S. Department of Education released a new Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide, a resource to help parents and guardians understand how digital tools can provide tailored learning opportunities, engage students with course materials, encourage creative expression, and enrich the educational experience. As an increasing number of school systems implement digital learning both inside and outside of the traditional classroom, this guide demystifies digital learning for parents and empowers them to be effective advocates for high-quality digital learning.
Resources & Strategies to Support Children with Disabilities & Their Families During COVID-19
COVID-19 has deeply impacted early childhood programs, children and families, and their communities. This resource list, jointly created by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA), the Office of Head Start (OHS), and the OHS TA National Centers may be helpful when seeking guidance and resources to help leaders, services providers, teachers, support staff, children, and families during reopening and continuity of services.
Social Emotional Learning Parent Resources
The Illinois AfterSchool Network and the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership were funded by the Bright Promises Foundation to support the After School Parent Engagement and Social Emotional Learning Project. The collaborative project focused on providing support to After School and Family Child Care Providers through the use of mental health consultation. It is essential that program staff and families collaborate and connect to support the social and emotional development of their youth, which leads to academic success and the development of career and life skills. The manuals, linked below, offer resources, ideas and activities to support programs and families in this process.
COVID-19 Parenting Tips & Activities for All Ages in 100+ Languages
Parenting for Lifelong Health has developed open-access online parenting resources to support families during COVID-19. Their Parenting Tip Sheets are available in over 100 languages and provide useful reminders, suggestions, strategies, and activities to help caregivers support themselves, their children, and their families during the pandemic.