The Learning Circle YMCA Child Care and Early Education Center has provided services to the City of Summit and its surrounding communities since 1954. The look of childcare has changed in many ways since our origin. Our history is filled with the loving and creative efforts of numerous staff and volunteers who responded to changing community needs and expectations; our goal being to work alongside families whose children’s future would outdistance our own past educational and career experiences.
During 2020, along with the rest of the world, we changed ever more in ways we never could have imagined. At the onset, I’ll admit there was a great deal of angst as we entered unchartered waters with no past reference to help us navigate. But five months after our June 15 re-opening, we have settled into routines that have kept members and staff safe. That is the first priority – safety. While we cannot promise to do what the whole world could not do – stop a pandemic – we do promise that we will follow every guidance provided to us, and that guidance will be our minimum standard. Whatever we can do better, we have and we will continue to do.
So let me tell you about these past five months. From an early childhood program with 231 children at the pandemic closure in March 2020, we re-opened on June 15, 2020 with 35 children in our program. We grew quickly and currently have enrolled 147 children. In June, we read and re-read material available from the experts in health care to make sure we were in compliance with recommendations and requirements. July and August flew by as enrollment (and parent questions!) increased. And by now, we feel settled as we watch the experts our children have become at dealing with the protocols that changed their experience. They leave their parents at the door and walk in bravely (most days – Mondays might be the toughest but isn’t that true for all of us?), temperature taking is just like brushing teeth now, donning masks happens without question, and large ziploc bags instead of backpacks don’t even cause an eye blink.
For those of you who have chosen in-person education for your child, we want to thank you for your trust and repeat our promise to you that we are following all protocols.
What benefits do we see for your children who are attending our programs?
• Increased resiliency as they experience changed expectations in their young world.
• In-person learning in a group of peers that adds to expansion of thought.
• Opportunities for social and emotional experiences that increase their ability to work in groups, understanding how to navigate personal relationships that reach beyond their family.
• Access to daily gross motor experiences – they can run and climb on playgrounds designed for their age group (you can imagine the loud sounds of joy right?).
• An acceleration of many self-help skills as they live in a family ‘pod’ at the Center.
• Multicultural learning that is essential in our globally connected world – not as easily achieved at home.
• Immersion in an early childhood curriculum proven to move children appropriately along the developmental ladder, readying them for their school-age experience.
We understand that some of you may not be comfortable yet, and we respect all parental decisions. You may be dealing with circumstances where staying close to home is more necessary for your family than others. But if your schedule or work pressures require you to seek outside care, we are here for you, promising our commitment to safety. If you need a physical break from trying to balance work and family, we want you to know you have options and we invite you to consider our program for 2, 3, 4 or 5 days per week. Financial assistance programs are always available for those in need.
If you have questions or want to learn more please contact us.
Come when you’re ready. Best wishes to all.
THE LEARNING CIRCLE YMCA