The Anaheim Family YMCA recently launched a free early learning program designed to support children’s learning at home with caregivers.
The Y realized that the landscape of childcare is changing here in Anaheim and nationwide. There is declining enrollment in licensed childcare facilities because working parents in low-income communities are depending on their spouse, parents, friends or other family members to care for their children. While this offers trust and convenience – it does not ensure the proper tools and experience to prepare kids for school.
To help meet this critical need and ensure every child is getting quality early learning support at home, the Anaheim Family YMCA launched Early Learning Readiness or ELR, a free program for 20 children and their caregivers.
“Unlike traditional early learning or preschool programs, this program is meant for the caregiver,” said Ann Trovada, program director for the Anaheim Family YMCA. “Caregivers are truly a child’s ‘first educator’ and it is important to empower them with age-appropriate learning experiences they can share. If we can build the skill-set of the caregiver who are essentially spending the most time with the kids while mom or dad are in school or working, we can help these youngsters learn more at home,” added Trovada.
The Anaheim Family YMCA was one of many YMCA’s across the nation selected by YMCA of the USA (national headquarters) to pilot this program. The program was developed to address the Achievement Gap – children from low-income families start kindergarten 6 months behind middle-income kids and have a proven “gap in learning” throughout their academic life as compared to their middle-income counterparts. Without intervention, this gap can plague children in school and impact their long-term academic future.
Through ELR, younger learners between the ages 0-5 years old, get stimulating preschool-like experience and caregivers receive support. The program includes songs, family-style snack time, and 13 learning centers, from books and puzzles to listening and dress-up, reinforcing learning and playing together with their caregiver, all in preparation for kindergarten.
“Not only are we seeing great improvements with our young learners, but caregivers are also learning and gaining new skills,” added Trovada. “One of my favorite stories is about a grandfather who came to the program with his granddaughter and started to learn how to speak in English. This allowed him to better communicate with his granddaughter at home, which makes a huge difference when they are playing and learning together.”
The program, which began September 9 and runs through June, is funded by the Anaheim Community Foundation’s Helping Hands grant. The sessions are held Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Salvation Army, 1515 W North St, Anaheim, CA 92801.
CAREGIVERS SEEING POSITIVE RESULTS IN CHILDREN
- Increase in ability to engage in positive play – 96% Agree
- Build confidence in learning – 96% Agree
- Know More ABCs – 94% Agree
- Know more numbers – 92% Agree
- Increased interest in new activities and learning – 96% Agree