Archive: Early Learning

CHALK Preschool: In-Person or Free Online Options for Early Education

CHALK Preschool is one of the most technologically advanced early education programs of its time. Its online program is totally convenient and totally free. If parents prefer a more traditional, in-person option for their child, they’re invited to opt into one of CHALK’s five in-person preschools, located in Chicago and Los Angeles.


Chalk Preschool Locations


The CHALK Preschool Mission

CHALK Preschool believes that every child deserves access to an early education. That’s why, in addition to offering several in-person locations in both the Chicago and Los Angeles areas, it’s also available to preschoolers around the world through CHALK’s online preschool program. And because CHALK knows how vital those first few years of learning are, it offers its online curriculum for free.


CHALK’s Teaching Philosophy

Teachers at the in-person centers believe in a warm, welcoming environment where children learn by embracing the arts and achieving classroom goals, based on studied learning standards. CHALK focuses primarily on a hands-on learning style. Even the online courses are about much more than screen time. This hands-on teaching approach means preschoolers learn both inside and outside, with both the online and in-person options. The curriculum focuses on primary learning objectives centered on literacy, math and science. But CHALK goes beyond the books. Preschoolers in the program hone their creative skills through art projects and perfect motor skills through music and dance activities.


Chalk Free Preschool Online


The Nitty Gritties of CHALK

The online courses are available on regular computers, as well as on smartphones and tablets. While age varies, based on the needs of each individual child, most are ready to join the preschool program somewhere between the ages of two and five. While they’re first separated into classes by age, if a parent feels it’s not a perfect fit, staff members are happy to switch children to more suitable class groups.


CHALK’s History

The idea for CHALK was first established in 2004, but the first center went up in Illinois the following year. For the next few years, more and more centers were opened in the Chicago area and in 2009, the first Los Angeles CHALK Preschool was established. Since then, the centers have continued to multiply in both cities. Because the founders of CHALK wanted their preschools to reach across the country, and even the world, they decided to launch the online preschool option. With this digital curriculum, even those who don’t live in Chicago or Los Angeles can still reap the benefits of a CHALK early education.


Parents are welcome to enroll their child in the online program at any time, simply by visiting CHALK Preschool’s website. In-person programs accept applicants year-round, so Chicago and Los Angeles-based families are also welcome to enroll at any time.



Free Program at CHALK Preschool Makes Early Education Accessible for All

We promise it’s not too good to be true. CHALK Preschool offers an online curriculum to children across the world for absolutely no cost at all. With preschool tuition on a seemly constant rise, the option for free learning is key.


In recent years, preschool has gotten so expensive that it’s even been compared to college tuition costs. Depending on location and which specific program parents choose, preschool for just one child could set them back anywhere between $4,400 and $13,000 each year. The average cost of tuition at a public college is under $9,000. That means that parents could actually pay more for their child’s preschool education than they do for their college. And as a country, we can’t afford these steep tuition costs. College students and grads owe around $1 trillion in student loans, begging the question, if we can’t afford to pay for our children’s college tuitions, how can we afford to pay around the same amount for their preschool education?


That’s where CHALK comes in. Because of this interactive preschool option, children across the world are able to attend preschool. The online, free curriculum through CHALK Preschool is accessible to everyone, regardless of household income. It gives children across the world access to a quality, early learning education. The program is open to any child, but primarily aimed at kids between the ages of two and five.


Learning is vital within those first five years. It can pave the road for academic success in the future. Kids who attend preschool enter kindergarten with a higher understanding of vocabulary, math and pre-literacy skills. And a preschool education goes beyond the books. It teaches children to socialize and can even help develop motor skills. Later in life, preschool matters. Studies show that adults who attended preschool are less likely to be held back in school, placed in special education, rely on welfare or even break laws. There’s no doubt that preschool plays a big role in both the immediate and future success of children.


Everyone should be given the advantage of preschool. Because CHALK knows the importance of an early education, they strive to make it accessible to all children. To enroll your child in CHALK Preschool’s free online program, simply visit the site and register today!



-“Preschool: How much does it cost?” Baby Center

-“What’s the price tag for a college education?” College Data

-“Why preschool matters”

-“Preschool: The most important grade” ASDC

Milestones for 12-17 Months

Once your child hits one year, they’ll continue to develop emotionally, physically and cognitively at a rapid rate. Between 12 and 17 months, children start to master skills like running and the ability to follow instructions. Remember that each child develops at his or her own pace so don’t worry if they’re not exactly on track. Here’s a simple breakdown of what milestones to look forward to during these exciting months:


Physical milestones

-Starts showing signs of right or left-handedness

-“Helps” you dress him or her by holding their arms out

-Bends to pick up toys, showing increased coordination

-Eats with his or her hands


-Starts running


Emotional milestones

-Becomes attached to a favorite stuffed animal or blanket

-Loves playing games

-Develops favorite foods and dislikes others

-Enjoys interacting with other children


Cognitive milestones

-Perfects a couple words and continues to work on others

-Recognizes (and loves) his or her reflection

-Develops the ability to follow simple instructions

-Has a shorter attention span (don’t worry! This is normal)

-Plays pretend

-Sorts toys and other objects by shape, size and color



-“Toddler Milestones: 12-17 Months.”

-“Developmental: 12 to 15 months.” Parenting Weekly

-Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/

7 Ways to Promote Early Education

It’s never too early to start actively enforcing your toddler’s learning, even before they head to preschool. Simple, every day activities promote early education, putting your child in peak learning shape for when they do head to school.


Stick to a routine. Consistency is grounding and gives children a sense of trust. Once their environment is stable, they’ll be more open to learning, especially at an early age.


Hit the books early. Just because your child can’t read on their own quite yet, doesn’t mean they don’t love to read. Reading out loud can help jumpstart reading skills. Plus, reading to your little one helps build basic skills like speech, sentence structure and the abcs of learning (like reading from left to right).


Let them help with every day tasks. There are measuring lessons in cooking, color recognition in laundry and biology lessons in gardening. Learning every day tasks will not only teach responsibility and the jobs themselves, but there are mini lessons to be learned with each activity.


 Participate. Joining in and guiding result in more effective learning than simply telling children what to do. Kids learn by example and, especially at young ages, often mirror their parents and teachers. They’ll learn faster if they have someone to observe and copy.


Communicate. Simply talking and listening to your child will help them learn. They want to both ask you questions and share their theories and experiences. Listen when they do and actively respond. If your child is telling you about coloring at a play date, ask what they drew and why they chose that subject. Talk about their favorite colors.


Encourage creativity. Youngsters learn by imagining and imitating through dress up and pretending. Encourage them to express themselves and make believe. These behaviors are their way of understanding and digesting the world around them.


Time and patience are key. Take things slow and one day at a time. Just like adults, children have good and bad days. It’s your job to remain consistent and loving, not frustrated. Plus, overstimulation is never good. A slow, steady pace gives your little one time to digest all of the new information they’re taking in.




-Serge, Irene. “Time to Get Serious About Early Learning.” Eye on Early education. November 28, 2012. <>

-“10 Reasons Why You Should Read to Your Kids” Early Moments. <>

-“Promoting Learning.”

-“Early Learning at Home and in Preschool.”

 -Photo courtesy of sheelamohan/


The 5 Important Stages of Play BloomfieldFrom the time they are born, until the age of 6, children go through five important stages of play. These stages are what teach children motor skills, recognition of others and social skills.


1.     Solitary play

Under 2 years

Under the age of two years, babies are exploring the new world around them. They spend most of their playtime making use of all of their senses, touching everything around them, tasting anything they can get their hands on and babbling to hear their own voice. They bang, learning repetition and trial and error. This is all part of starting to learn motor skills, creating functioning, active babies.


2.     Parallel play

2 years old

The next stage of play is for 2 and 3 year-olds. Parallel play is when socializing first begins. Babies at this stage play next to each other, but do not interact. Even though they do not acknowledge each other, they do recognize that other babies are there. This is the first stage in stepping outside of one’s self and noticing others.


3.     Imitative play

2-3 years old

Shortly after parallel play, children start to imitate those around them. They’ve probably already been imitating their parents and adults in their lives, but at the stage of imitative play, they’re starting to embrace the actions of those their age. This is the first outward sign of acknowledging others.


4.     Associative play

3-4.5 years old

While maintaining their independent interests, children play together. They may acknowledge what the other is doing and discuss what they are doing with each other, but they are not yet working toward a common goal. They are not yet playing together.


5.     Cooperative play

4-6 years old

Finally, during cooperative play, children start to work toward a common goal. They are working together, or against each other, but most definitely interacting. This is the vital stage where we start to see future socializing skills forming.

Top Educational Books for Tots

Counting books

There’s a whole list of books out there that help kids learn their numbers.

  • 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle explores the magic of numbers as different animals pile on the train to head to the zoo. This story is meant for kids 2-4 years old.
  • Counting Kisses by Karen Katz is a cute counting book for kids ages 0-4.
  • How Do Dinosaurs Count to 10? by Jane Yolen, for kids 4-7 years old, uses rhymes to help teach readers how to count to 10.
  • In David Kirk’s Miss Spider’s Tea Party, for 4-6 year-olds, Miss Spider attempts  to squash her neighbors’ fear of her by throwing a tea party.


ABC books

ABC books like these teach children letter recognition:

  • Pam Abrams’ Now I Eat My ABCs for tots 0-3 has a yummy food assigned to each letter of the alphabet. B is made of blueberries and O is an orange.
  • I Spy Letters by Jean Marzolo lets 0-4 year-olds learn letters through rhyming and hand-painted letters.
  •  The classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault tells the story of a, b, c, d and e meeting at the top of a coconut tree.



Teach your little ones colors:

  • Justine Smith’s Colors is filled with bright, bolds illustrations. This book is made for children 1-3.
  • A kitten hunts for its favorite color in Cat’s Colors by Jane Cabrera.”Favorite



Help toddlers learn their shapes:

  • Every day objects in Justine Smith’s Shapes help kids 0-2 learn shapes. Plus, the rhyming words and colorful illustrations make learning fun.




-“Educational Books for Toddlers.” Scholastic.

-“Favorite Books for Preschoolers.” Great Schools <>

-Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Sign Language for Babies

Recently, more and more parents have been teaching their little ones sign language, many before they can even speak. The idea is that babies have the cognitive ability to comprehend language, but lack the physical ability to make the sounds. They can, however, learn sign language because the ability to make hand motions comes before the ability to easily form words.


Many experts even believe the benefits of learning sign language go farther than communication. Some have found that use of signing as a baby leads to confidence and higher self-esteem later in life. Signing also rewards eye contact, an important component of socializing that they’ll master in their later years.


Take the time for a short class, research online or pick up a book on simple sign language. Then start signing to your baby when you speak to him or her. As early or six or seven months, little ones can start using those signs to communicate with you.



“Please” and “thank you” are easy signs to learn, but they’ll help instill manners from the very beginning, making them a habit and giving you the most polite baby around!



Teach your baby his or her favorite foods. Signs for “milk” “peas” and “applesauce” could save you a spit up mouthful of mushed up carrots. Plus, the simple signs for “food” and “water” help your baby tell you when he or she is hungry or thirsty.


Useful words

Signs for “more” and “done” can be more useful than imaginable. Babies often throw tantrums to show frustration and what’s more frustrating than being unable to communicate? Save yourself a scene by teaching your little one how to ask for more or tell you they’re finished.



-“Baby sign language: top ten starter signs.” Baby Sign Language

-“Teaching your baby sign language can benefit both of you.” Psych Central

-Photo courtesy of photostock/

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