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LENA Start Parenting Classes

Basics DeKalb County has partnered with NIU to bring LENA Start programming to our community. LENA Start is an evidence-based program designed to engage families and help them learn how to increase conversation with their children during the first few years of life. Interactive talk — specifically back-and-forth conversation — has been proven to be a key factor in healthy early brain development. Yet most families don’t know how much they’re talking to or with their children.

During LENA Start, families use LENA’s patented “talk pedometer” technology to measure their child’s language environment. Over the course of 10 weekly sessions that can be delivered virtually or in person, families explore this data in the form of personalized, actionable feedback reports, discussing research-based strategies with their peers to increase the quality and quantity of talk at home. Participants will receive free children’s book each session and gift card stipends. Registration is required.


Parent Playgroups

Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher! Because 80% of brain growth happens during the first 3 years of life we want to provide an opportunity for parents and caregivers to do brain-boosting activities with their children and connect with other local families. Each month, you will receive an early learning toolkit with materials to help your child learn and grow. Each week, you get to choose a new book to add to your child’s home library. Registration is required.

We have SIX playgroups to choose from!

For more information or help registering, contact the DeKalb County Regional Office of Education at: 815-217-0471.

Sycamore Register Here
Sandwich Register Here
Hinckley Register Here
DeKalb (Tuesday) Register Here
DeKalb (Friday) Register Here

Toddler Garden

Our Toddler Gardens are a place where families can be outside and do The Basics in nature! These free weekly programs are for any parent/caregiver with young children- even infants! The topics of the programs range from seeds to bumblebees and anything in between. The programs are about 45 minutes in length. No registration required and there are no residency restrictions to attend. We have 4 locations: Sandwich, DeKalb, Genoa, and Waterman! See photo for schedule of programs. Toddler Gardens are open to the public and can be visited anytime outside of scheduled programming.

Toddler Garden News

Coming Soon - Pathways to Play

Play is the way young children learn and early childhood is a critical time for learning and development. Early childhood education is experiencing a significant workforce shortage. The DeKalb County Regional Office of Education is providing outdoor learning spaces to support brain development though play in six Basics-aligned children’s gardens across the county. Additionally, high school students across the county are learning about becoming an early childhood educator with opportunities to lead supervised lessons in the children’s gardens. 

If you are interested in allowing your child to participate in the Pathways to Play lessons complete the short interest form.

Interest Form