For many working parents, preparing young children for kindergarten can be daunting, especially when that child spends an average of 33 hours each week being looked after by a grandparent, other relative, friend or babysitter. Not surprisingly, most of these informal caregivers focus on loving care and generally do not have early childhood development expertise.
To improve school readiness among children up to five years old, particularly from underserved and low-income communities, the Y has launched a pilot initiative at YMCAs across the country, including the Lawrence YMCA, called the Early Learning Readiness Program for Informal Family, Friend and Neighbor Caregivers.
Early Learning Readiness Program provides
a stimulating, preschool-like experience through learning centers
that foster development, improve school readiness, and support the
skills and confidence of caregivers. Its innovative approach provides
caregivers with tools and support to give the children in their care
better learning and development experiences. In addition, the Early
Learning Readiness Program empowers caregivers with knowledge and
provides a much needed intervention for a large number of children
not enrolled in preschool, who might otherwise reach kindergarten
unprepared. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report, children
5 years old and under were more likely to be cared for by a relative
(42 percent) than by a nonrelative (33 percent), while 12 percent
were regularly cared for by both, and 39 percent had no regular child
The Early Learning Readiness Program is FREE and offers high-quality physical, emotional and cognitive experiences for kids. Caregivers and children attend bi-weekly meetings together at neighborhood locations such as local Ys, community centers, libraries, schools and places of worship. The Lawrence program operates Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 11. To learn more, phone Phone: 978-686-6191.