The philosophy of our Preschool at the Y program is children learn by doing! Children ages 18 months to 5 years old, spend part of the day in group activities and part of the day involved in self-directed learning centers.
|When she was 2 years old, “Suzy” joined the Preschool at the Y Fireflies classroom, which serves children ages 18 months to 2 ½ years old, on a part-time basis. Suzy comes from a bilingual household, was not speaking English, and was having a very difficult time communicating. At first, she struggled mightily during drop-off time and would cry on and off much of the day. The language barrier made it hard for her to communicate her needs and interact successfully with her peers and teachers. She would spend most of the day huddled by the teacher’s side.
After communicating with Suzy’s parents, the preschool teachers made pictures for Suzy to use throughout the day to help her communicate her wants and needs. Every time she used a picture, the teachers would say the English word or phrase to help her make connections. Shortly after she started using the pictures, Suzy began participating more in classroom activities and came out of her shell, smiling more and interacting with her peers.
A few months later, Suzy moved up to the Ladybugs classroom, which serves 2 ½-year-old to 3 1/2 -year old students, and her family enrolled her full-time. She continued using pictures to communicate and make language connections. After just a few months, teachers noticed a dramatic increase in her ability to communicate, she grew even more comfortable at preschool, participated more, used full sentences, and rarely had difficulty during drop-off time.
Suzy is now in our Caterpillars classroom for 3- and 4-year-olds. She is one of the most fluent communicators among her peers and eagerly participates in group activities and discussions. She has a large circle of friends and actively engages with them socially. She now meets all developmentally appropriate milestones for her age.
Suzy’s story is just one of many that illustrate the tremendous potential of Preschool at the Y to change the early life trajectory of a young child. It also showcases the numerous alignments between the program and Bold Goal 3, including the value of supporting access to childcare among underserved groups and engaging families in addressing obstacles that hinder student wellbeing and success.