Notes from my Minivan: The Best Classes You’re Not Taking

I spend a lot of time in my minivan driving four kids here and there, there and here. It’s one of the few places where I can actually think, sometimes. These are my thoughts, scribbled on napkins and receipts. A monthly look into raising kids and living in Lake County.

Note: all opinions belong to me and only me and are not a reflection of those of our advertisers, partners or other writers.

From the Editors Minivan

Enrichment. Hobby. Extracurricular. Just for fun. Socialization (for mom or tot!)

Whatever your reasoning more and more parents are looking for classes and activities to sign their kids up for. There are so many options out there these days from private groups and clubs to national chains, and private tutors. What too many parents are overlooking is that some of the best, and most affordable classes are right under their noses!

Your local Forest Preserve, Park District and Library.

All of these offer classes and activities for multiple age groups from mom and tot to grade school. They also tend to be more affordable than the private or national chains because you have already partially paid for them through your tax dollars. I truly don’t know why more parents don’t use them.

When I moved to Lake County 2 years ago this fall I was excited to finally have a local park district and to have such a great Forest Preserve District. I moved from an urban area that had a Great library program, but the parks and recreation were lacking. We eagerly signed up for programs every session since moving here. One class, or in some cases multiple classes, have either been very small or been cancelled; Every. Single. Season.

Now it could be luck and what we choose. For the most part, we stay away from team sports, my kids lean towards the academic (science, cooking, nature). However we started with a soccer clinic this summer that we loved, and the fall version is threatened due to under-enrollment.

What you may not know about Park District programs is that many have instructors that are professionals in their field, or are outsourced from national chains. Our soccer clinic, for example, is outsourced from a group that runs soccer clinics all over the region. All of the instructors play semi-professionally.  I played soccer high school through college, I even taught clinics for toddlers through kindergarten. I could not have been more impressed with the coach we had for this program. Not only was he teaching actual skills (dribbling, stopping, kicking, etc). He made the skills easy to understand with games and characters they would know, he made it fun and non-competitive, and really connected with the kids. The fall program for residents is $60, and your child comes home with a soccer ball! The class is 7 weeks, that makes it less than $10 per class! Yet when I registered there were only 2 people registered, TWO! Currently, we are at 5 and are waiting to see if they are going to cancel or combine the ages.

We frequently end up at the open gym ($3/child $5/family) with 6 or fewer families. While most of the pre-registered (age specific) library programs we have taken are full or close to full all the drop in storytimes we have done are sparse on attendance. Same for the Forest Preserve, we have had some full classes but have had just as many cancelled for low attendance.

With a tight economy, this is the perfect time to check out your local park district or library for programs.

Have you/Do you use your local park district/library for classes? What are some of your favorites?

Dance academy of Libertyville
About Melissa Haak 901 Articles
Melissa is mom to 4. She used to dream of traveling the world, now she dreams of a clean kitchen. She can be found on most social media sites as @PBinmyHair because with this much hair and four kids, you're bound to find something in it.

1 Comment

  1. I just read this article in the Trib Local newspaper and am so grateful! I am always looking for classes or activities to do with my two year old and never even realized the Forest Preserve had classes available. Thank you so much for the information. I also became a fan of your blog very quickly. Thanks for all the tips!

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