The City of Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are committed to bringing access to high quality early learning opportunities to families throughout the city. In addition to great programs for children at schools and community agencies, there are a number of opportunities to start stimulating your child with early learning in other environments.

I Play in Chicago!

For young children, time spent playing is time well-spent — especially for their cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical development. The City of Chicago provides a variety of play-based programming that gives kids an environment to explore new experiences and unleash their creativity.

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Chicago Park District

Many parks offer early childhood recreation classes— moms, pops, and tots interaction, play group, preschool, puppetry, storytelling, and Moms, Dads, & Tots Gymnastics. Early childhood participants develop and enhance their motor, listening and social skills through movement education programming. Visit the Chicago Park District to find and sign up for a class near you.

Chicago Children's Museum

The Chicago Children’s Museum features a number of early learning spaces for children to support the development of communities where play and learning connect. One permanent exhibit, The Tinkering Lab, features an early learning nook of safe interactive objects and touchable tools. The Children’s Museum also partners to bring early learning and engagement spaces to other places in the city. Contact the Chicago Children’s Museum for details.

I Learn in Chicago!

Young children absorb new information at an astounding rate — and that doesn’t stop in the classroom. That’s why city agencies focus on creating many avenues for early learning, from kid-friendly literacy support to programs that prime incoming kindergarteners for the school year ahead.

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Chicago Public Library

The Chicago Public Library (CPL) has many enriching opportunities for children including early learning spaces at libraries and preschool reading hours. CPL also features mobile units that bring hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning activities for young children along with family literacy programming facilitated by librarians throughout the city. The CPL has three mobile units with these STEAM-based learning kits deployed throughout the city – one for each Library District. Contact CPL for details.

Chicago City of Learning

Chicago City of Learning (CCOL) is a groundbreaking initiative that joins together learning opportunities for young people in a way that allows them to think about, pursue, and develop their interests. CCOL partners to bring early childhood experiences to spaces during the summer to prepare children to enter kindergarten in the Fall. Visit CCOL to find opportunities near you.

I Grow in Chicago!

Chicago is committed to making young children’s rapid development free of growing pains and full of growing gains. That means creating opportunities to properly nourish and support children during this critical growth period, and to track their progress toward key health and wellness milestones.

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Chicago Department of Public Health

The foundation for early learning and a child’s success starts with maternal and infant health. The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH)’s neighborhood health clinics offer care support for expectant mothers and wellness services for children. CDPH also has a resource finder for many needs for families expecting or with young children, including health care and other supports like clothes, car seats and more. Contact the Chicago Department of Public Health for details.

Medicaid and SNAP (Food Stamps)

The Children and Family Benefits Unit (CFBU) of the Office of Student Health and Wellness (OSHW) can help families apply for Medicaid (low-cost or free health insurance) and SNAP benefits (food stamps) at no cost. Call 773-553-KIDS (5437) to learn more.


Connect4Tots provides text messages on FREE resources for parents and guardians of toddlers ages 1 to 3. Connect4Tots parents and guardians receive 2-3 text messages weekly with information about child’s growth and development, connections to health & safety, education, public service, event resources in the City of Chicago, and more!

Sign Up Today!

Text TOTOPT7 to 311311 or use this online form.

When you enroll, you will be asked to provide your child’s date of birth and sex, your city address, and your preferred language (English, Spanish, or Polish) to receive texts. Once enrolled, you will automatically receive 2-3 messages per week with helpful guidance and tips.

Standard text messaging rates may apply.

Tell your Chicago Friends!

Are you already a Connect4Tots parent? Let your other Chicago friends who are parents of toddlers know so they can get important text messages on FREE resources for those who qualify.

Additional Information

Connect4Tots is sponsored by the City of Chicago and the University of Chicago Urban Labs. Urban Labs will evaluate the effects of the program by analyzing participants’ use of the information and resources included in the text messages. Please review our consent for more information. For more information on the program, please contact Urban Labs at

Latest News

Thomas Hughes Children's Library Re-Opened

The newly re-opened Thomas Hughes Children’s Library powered by Exelon, was dedicated by Mayor Emanuel on July 13th. The re-envisioned space boasts a maker space and distinct areas or “neighborhoods” for early learners: ages 0-5, middle-childhood learners: 6-10 and tweens: ages 11-14 with a full digital media lab...