4 North Shore programs for parent-tot togetherness

happy child mom swimming pool cap fun hug at sea

Though my son will turn nine this summer, believe you me—I still very distinctly remember the stage of childhood that I referred to at the time as “the squigglies.” Meaning, those toddler years when his energy was endearingly, exhaustingly through the roof. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what to do to keep him engaged, learning and, well, ready for a nap.


Little did I know, I wasn’t alone! Plenty of toddler parents feel the same way, and as luck would have it, they’ve banded together on the North Shore to keep their kids moving. Sharing is caring, so have at it—and I wish you all the best with your own set of the squigglies.


Glenview Park District


Side by Side 


Songs, stories, hands-on crafts—your little one 18 to 24 months old will explore it all in this sensory-focused class. Activities are geared toward toddlers in the developmental stage, with an emphasis on social interaction for younger kids who might not have been immersed in the preschool environment just yet.


Me and My Shadow 


Taking a slightly more independent approach, this class for kids ages 24 to 36 months is centered on weekly themes. From arts and crafts to circle time, movement to free play, tots are introduced to playtime in a structured environment where parents are present, but a bit less involved.


Bright Beginnings 


Perfect for ages 2 to 6, this crafts-based class strikes the balance between creativity and organization. An instructor guides parents and kids through a different art project each week, encouraging little ones to improve motor and sensory skills as well as how to listen to directions.


Glenview Park District


2400 Chestnut Ave., Glenview




Northbrook Park District


Parent-Tot Open Gym 


We’ve all been there—those moments when no amount of Pinterest crafts, Play-Doh shapes or Lego marathons can cure the need to simply get out the wiggles. Hula hoops, balls, runaround time and more give antsy little ones a chance to expend some energy with you by their side.


Northbrook Leisure Center


3323 Walters Ave., Northbrook




Little Diggers


Nature nurtures kids ages 2 to 4 in this monthly class hosted by Chicago Botanic Gardens. Kids will learn about animals, foliage, the four seasons and more, with group activities, free play and a planting project (which could make an awesome gift for a grandparent).


Chicago Botanic Garden


1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe




Baby Blue Swim


There’s something super special about being in the water with your little one, and hey, it’s actually kind of a workout! Head to Big Blue Swim School for 30-minute lessons designed to get your child ages 6 months to 3 years more comfortable in the water. Skills and activities include back float, breath control, blowing bubbles and confidently releasing hold of the wall.


Big Blue Swim School


3232 Lake Ave., Wilmette




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