Early learning research drives play-based learning installations in three disadvantaged Chicago-area neighborhoods
Metropolitan Family Services partnered with Legat’s preK-12 team and Northwestern University developmental psychology researchers for educational sidewalk installations in three Chicago-area communities. The Chicago Playful Learning installations encourage critical thinking, reading, shape and pattern awareness, and math skills for children up to age seven.
The installations came about because of two realities: the academic performance of disadvantaged children falls short of that of their more privileged peers, and children learn best through play and activity. Colorful puzzles challenge children to explore shapes, letters, and basic numbers at their own pace, while a parent or guardian provides insight and direction.
The first Chicago-area playful learning project finished in Little Village, where 84% of residents are Latino.
In the North Lawndale community, 87% of whose residents are black, the installations appear on sidewalks across from the Dr. King Legacy Apartments, as well as on sidewalks near the Central Park Pink Line stop for Chicago Transit Authority’s “L” system and near the Farm On Ogden development.
The installations in Aurora energize an aging playground at Hesed House, Illinois’ second-largest homeless shelter.