“Learning On the Go” Family Engagement Team
Meets Families Where They Are
EPEL and community partners meet families in the neighborhood parks for early learning, family engagement and wrap-around resources
Elgin, IL – Elgin Partnership for Early Learning (EPEL) and community partners visit seven neighborhood parks, five in Elgin and two in Hanover Park, each week, June 6th through July 28th, to provide family engagement and early learning opportunities called, Learning On the Go.
EPEL coordinates Learning On the Go to meet families where they are to provide early learning opportunities and resources to families in the neighborhoods to support the first 2,000 days of a child's life, birth to five, during this time of critical brain development. The education of our young children is the responsibility of all of us. Research shows that early learning experiences are vital to the development of young children. Amber Peters, EPEL Executive Director, says, "Learning On the Go offers a hands-on approach, to make learning fun and engaging for the children and model for parents developmentally appropriate approaches to prepare children for school in their home and community. We hope families will join us at one of the seven sites this summer. The locations are listed on the Elgin Partnership for Early Learning website, along with details."
EPEL utilizes YWCA Elgin bilingual family engagement specialists and School District U-46 parent liaisons to facilitate early learning sites. Children participate in a read-aloud and receive new books, lunch, and materials to build early math and literacy skills. Gail Borden and Poplar Creek Public Libraries provide weekly visits with the bookmobiles so families can apply for library cards and check out books. Early care and education programs also attend to build relationships with parents and enroll children in programs.
"Learning On the Go is an organic process. The EPEL family engagement team sets up near neighborhood parks, brings early learning materials, partners offer resources, and families start walking over to attend. It is so cool to watch! EPEL's community partners are part of the "secret sauce" to its success as they are family outreach experts. Our collaboration relies on their expertise to offer soft hand-offs to enroll children in programs and resources to stabilize families. This summer, we hope to continue early learning engagement opportunities into the fall through a playgroup model to support families who don't have their children enrolled in early care programs. The playgroups will begin in August. This is an opportunity to continue to build relationships and learn from the families what they need most," said Amber Peters. Families can check out neighborhood sites on the EPEL website or on social media
About Elgin Partnership for Early Learning (EPEL) EPEL's mission is to intensify the impact of local efforts that prepare children for Kindergarten by integrating over 80 partners' expertise and resources to build a connected community dedicated to helping young children thrive. EPEL works to bring awareness of the importance of early learning and meets families where they are to provide access to resources for early learning opportunities through traditional and non-traditional strategies like Language in the Laundromats, Learning On The Go summer outreach, medical centers, and food pantries. Our Vision is for all children to be happy, healthy, and ready for Kindergarten.
About Learning On the Go Learning On the Go is in its sixth year, growing out of summer pop-ups in neighborhoods that were considered furthest from opportunities in 2017 to seven sites supported by community partners in 2022. In 2021, 844 children were served at five locations over eight weeks.