Program brings early learning opportunities to Elgin-area families

A summer program that brings learning opportunities to underserved families with young children in the Elgin area is back for its eighth year.

The Elgin Partnership for Early Learning's Learning On the Go is a seven-week program that meets weekly at five neighborhood parks and schools — three in Elgin and one each in Hanover Park and Streamwood. The goal is to provide family engagement and early learning opportunities for kids up to age 5.

“We make learning fun and engaging for the kids,” said Amber Peters, EPEL executive director. “This is also an opportunity for us to model how parents interact with their children, to influence them to make positive interactions, because we all know that’s what’s best for young children.”

A total of 2,315 kids and family members visited program sites last summer. The locations are picked each year based on community data about families who might not be accessing resources like child care, health care and the library.

Sites and program times and days are available on the EPEL website at The program runs through July 25.

  About 30 kids joined a Learning on the Go stop on Thursday at Ontarioville Elementary in Hanover Park. Rick West/

During an hourlong session on Thursday morning at Ontarioville Elementary School in Hanover Park, families got on their feet for a lively bilingual version of “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” Then they enjoyed frozen treats passed out by Ontarioville principal Elizabeth Ma and assistant principal Jonathan Bacheller while listening to a story. Kids also made butterfly crafts.

Every week, each child receives a new book as well as a toy of some kind, Peters said. EPEL gave out over 3,100 new books to families last year.

Bacheller said he can see the difference in new students when they’ve engaged in early learning programs like Learning on the Go.

“They come with some readiness skills where they will be a lot more successful when they step their foot into the classroom for the first time,” he said.

U-46 parent liaisons and community partners, like the Gail Borden and Poplar Creek Libraries, support Learning On the Go with wraparound resources and enrollment support.

EPEL is a nonprofit organization that works to ensure children have access to quality early care and education in Elgin and the surrounding neighborhoods. The group partners with other area stakeholders to provide resources, early childhood initiatives, information and support for families with children younger than 5 years old.

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