I really love the Chicago Park District.
Amidst a sea of outrageously expensive, overly complicated activities for children, the Chicago Park District is a beacon of restraint and reasonable pricing. They offer fun, affordable programs for kids -- everything from arts and crafts to gymnastics to soccer. Nothing fancy. And you don't have to dig into your savings account to pay for it.
Fall programming is now available for viewing on the CPD website and there are some great options. Check out Nature Trekkers at Archer Park. Or maybe you want to keep working on the swimming skills that your little fish gained over the summer in a Parent and Tot Swim Class at Welles Park. Your child can even get an introduction to Ceramics at Ridge Park.
Unfortunately, as is the case with so many things in Chicago, actually getting your kids into these fun and affordable classes isn't always so simple (preschool waiting lists, anyone?).
Here is what you need to know so you are ready to go when online registration for fall programs begins on Monday, August 17 at 9:00 am (sharp).
The competition for some of the Chicago Park District classes is fierce. If you aren't
ready to register at exactly 9:00 am, you might miss out on the classes
you want. Many of the best offerings are totally full by 9:03 am. I have
some simple advice so this doesn't happen to you.
- Go to the CPD website and create an account (on the right hand sidebar).
- Peruse the program offerings and save any classes that you may want to register for to your "wish list."
- If you have any questions about the classes -- like what exactly does "fun and games" mean anyway -- call the specific location to get more information so you know exactly what it is you are signing up for.
the morning of Monday, August 17, log into your account BEFORE 9:00 am.
Access your wish list. Select the class you want the most (or that you
think is most sought after). Click "register." Type on your child's
first and last name. When registration opens at 9:00 am, press "add to
cart." You should have secured a spot in that class (this method has
never failed me).
- Quickly move on to any other classes in your wish list that you want to register for and follow the same steps.
you have input your child's name for all of the desired classes, then
proceed to the payment section and provide all of your contact and
payment information. Note that you have 30 minutes to do this before
you lose your spot.
- If you didn't get a spot in a class that you wanted, try again in
30 minutes because someone else might have failed to complete the
payment portion and a spot may have opened back up.
This is pretty crazy, I know. I mean, we are just talking about
toddler play groups and beginner tumbling classes here, right?
Obviously, no one should take this registration process too seriously
(and you can always call the specific location and ask to be put on a
wait list for a class if online registration doesn't work out).
If you think that this is insane, wait until spring when parents camp
overnight outside of the Lincoln Park Cultural Center to get a spot in summer camp.