At the Summit Area YMCA, childcare and early education programs like the Preschool program and the Busy Bees Preschool Summer Camp have a creative curriculum that will help children to learn, grow and thrive by exploring and discovering their true potential. As summer comes closer, Busy Bees Summer Camp is a great way for Preschoolers to enjoy the summer in a fun camp environment with weekly themes, field trips, swim time at the pool, games, activities and more! Here are 4 reasons why Preschool programs are so much more than babysitting, especially at the Summit Area YMCA:
1. IMAGINARY PLAY BOOSTS DEVELOPMENTAL SKILLS
We all envy children—they play, they eat, they sleep, with absolutely no worries in the world. Playtime, believe it or not, is an essential part of childhood that shapes how we function as adults. Time spent playing, especially imaginative play, helps young children to practice and develop their language and social skills, emotional skills, problem solving skills and more.
A child can pretend to be different characters and develop their empathy skills by “walking in another’s shoes” (literally if they’re playing in costume too!). When playing imaginatively with peers, children learn about different opinions, teamwork, or that not everyone gets what they want. Imaginative play also encourages children to exercise their language skills. Ever hear your child talking with his toys as different characters? Through imaginative play, children may role play and imitate parents, teachers, doctors, pilots and more. You may hear them repeating words from stories you’ve read to them, or from a movie they saw. This helps your child understand the power of language and the relationship between spoken and written words, which will later help them learn to read. Fine motor skills are developed through the arts and crafts activities including writing, gluing, cutting, completing puzzles, building towers and legos and the list goes on and on!
Preschool programs typically have time set outside for playtime specifically and are prime times for your little one to develop their young minds! Furthermore, preschools are designed for children and have play areas with all the props, toys and materials possible for kids to set their imaginations free in a safe and supervised space.
2. TEACHING THE IMPORTANCE OF HEALTHY LIVING THROUGH OUTDOOR PLAY
Similar to indoor playtime, there are more benefits to outdoor playtime than meets the eye. In addition to all the perks of imaginary play that lives indoors, outdoor play also encourages children to explore their surroundings outside the confines of 4 walls. Outdoor play is a great way to build muscle strength, increase flexibility and coordination, as well as develop fine and gross motor skills. Not to mention children have a ridiculous amount of energy that outdoor play helps to diffuse. A child without an outlet to exercise or challenge their minds may find other, less desirable outlets of letting out pent of energy.
With the great outdoors, children can run, jump, swing, and more. Doing so also helps children to enhance their balance as well as spatial learning when reaching for the next monkey bar, or when to jump off a swing. They practice gross motor skills through running, throwing a ball, catching a ball, learning how to skip hop and more. Furthermore, outdoor play and exercise helps to establish healthy habits and experiences that will help prevent child obesity.
3. PRESCHOOL IS STRUCTURED, EVEN IF IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE IT
Preschool is the perfect place for young tots to learn and be exposed to the concept of a structured day. They arrive at the facility, part ways with their parents, and teachers will be guiding them through a set routine each day. With an increased sense of structure also comes an increase in self-sufficiency and responsibility on the child’s part. In addition, they’ll also learn patience, routine, following directions and waiting. When they know after lunch is story time, teachers will start by instructing them to put their lunch bags away and gather around for storytime. With repetition, children will inevitably know that the next step is to put their lunch bags away and gather when the teacher says to clean up after lunch. (Whether they decide to listen and do so, is another story. But the child will understand the progression of events and what to expect next in their routine).
Whether it’s themed playtime that helps them work on gross motor skills, going on field trips, settling down for lunch time or snack time, tucking in for nap time, arts and crafts time, outdoor playtime and more, sending children to a quality preschool program will not only provide structure and help with behavior management, but also prepare them for kindergarten.
4. EMBRACING DIVERSITY AT AN EARLY AGE HELPS YOUR SUCCESS AS AN ADULT
They say the current generation is the least prejudiced generation in history, whether it be based on the higher amounts of diversity in neighborhoods, the power of information sharing, technology and media, and the increase in diverse representation from media to positions in government, the trend is only moving up when it comes to globalization and there’s no denying it. According to the CDC, "ECE (early childhood education) can counteract the disadvantage some children experience, improve their social and cognitive development, and provide them with an equal opportunity to achieve school readiness, and lifelong employment, income, and health."
Exposing children from a young age to others with diverse backgrounds and teaching them caring and accepting values in and out of the classroom promotes empathy and reduces prejudice. Furthermore, sending children to preschool programs that not only have diverse students but encourages the teaching of curriculum about various cultures and countries helps better prepare students for a global economy. As the world continues in globalization, having strong team work and social skills in working with diverse groups of people will be integral to positive and healthy emotional and mental development for children.
We are proud to say that at the Summit Area YMCA, we are dedicated to diversity and inclusion and are the first Diversity, Inclusion & Global Innovation Network of New Jersey. We are not only welcoming of all, but also regularly exercise our core values of honesty, respect, responsibility and caring in everyday operations as well as encourage throughout our programs and classes. For more information regarding our work and dedication to diversity and inclusion, visit www.thesay.org/dig
To learn more about the Berkeley Heights YMCA Preschool program, please visit www.theSAY.org/bhpreschool
To learn more about the Busy Bees Preschool Summer Camp at the Summit Area YMCA, please visit https://www.thesay.org/summer-camp/Preschool-Camps
Childcare and early education programs are also available at The Learning Circle YMCA. More information can be found at www.thesay.org/childcare
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About the Summit Area YMCA
The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income and background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Each year, we serve more than 10,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need.