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Early Learning Readiness
Prepare your child for Pre-K and continued learning. The YMCA's Early Learning Readiness Program provides a stimulating environment for children ages 2-4 to play and learn while developing the physical, verbal, and social skills they'll need to start school ready to succeed.
Thanks to grant funding, the program is offered free of charge to the public and focuses on increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families. In an informal setting with multiple play stations, adults will learn more about how children develop and how they can encourage learning and skill-building at home The program is geared toward families without access to other early learning opportunities.
What is Early Learning Readiness?
- The Early Learning Readiness Program is a free grant-based community program for qualifying low-income families that focuses on preparing children 2-4 years old for school, while providing their caregivers with the tools to faciliate their child's development and encourage learning at home. The program is designed to empower families with resources and support as they prepare children for school.
Children learn through Play-to-Learn activities. As a caregiver, you will be given the opportunity to engage with your child to develop skills and become an integral part of your child's learning and enjoyment!
During class each child is screened to help identity early intervention opportunies. Outside of the classroom, families are invited on field trips to explore local family resources such as the library, YMCA branches, and YMCA Camp Moody. We provide monthly activity calendars listing events in the area. Upon graduation, you and your child will receive resources and gifts to continue your child's development and education.
- Classes occur twice weekly during a 15 week period at local elementary schools for 2 hours for caregivers and children.
- Instruction is given in both English and Spanish!
- Open to children ages 2 to 4 years old & their adult caregivers - parent, aunt or uncle, older brother or sister, grandparent, neighbor, or nanny
- Three convenient locations throughout Austin (Pecan Springs, Guerrero-Thompson, Houston)
Registration for Fall 2018 program now open! Call 512-236-9622 to speak to a Y Ambassador for more infomation!
Program Information Flyer (English & Spanish)
- To empower caregivers and parents of young children with the tools they need to help their children to achieve school readiness
- To help caregivers understand the important role they play in their child's development and school success
- To provide children ages 2-4 years old from low income communities an enriching learning environment
- Strengthen family and community bonds in class between the child and caregiver, between caregivers, and between caregivers and facilitators
Registration is Easy! Enrollment for Fall 2018 NOW OPEN!
Call Program Services at (512) 236-9622 to speak to a Y Ambassador and enroll or express your interest for an upcoming session.
Fall Session Start Date:
End of August for Guerrero-Thompson Elementary, Pecan Springs Elementary, and Houston Elementary.
Registered and interested families will receive information through email and mail about upcoming Family Registration Days and classes.
What Are the Requirements for Participating?
- Children must be 2 - 4 years old.
- Families must live in Travis County.
- Families must have proven financial need.
- A caregiver must attend all sessions with the child (caregiver is anyone above the age of 18 that provides care for the child).
- Families can not have participated in any of the following programs within the past 2 years:
- United Way Play to Learn
- AVANCE Parent Child Program
- YMCA Early Learning Readiness (ELR)
- Literacy Coalition Play and Learning Strategies (PALS)
- Communities in Schools
- ASPIRE Program
- Child Inc.
What Should I Bring on Family Registration Day?
The Family Registration Session is an orientation to the program and official registration. You will fill out a longer program registration on this day, meet the teachers, and see the program space at the school. Please bring your child with you on this day!
Make sure to also bring:
- Photo ID (license, passport from any country, etc.)
- Proof of address to show you live in Travis County (e.g. a bill with current address)
- Proof of income (paystub, or you can fill out a self-declaration form at the program)
All information collected is strictly for the purposes of the ELR Program to verify that we are keeping in accordance with the guidelines set by the City of Austin. Nothing will be shared with a third-party, as everything will be confidential. We value your trust as a program participant!
We are really excited to register you and your child(ren) for our Early Learning Readiness Program so we can learn together! Please do not hesitate to call Program Services at 512-236-9622 with any questions or concerns.
ELR runs for 15 weeks and meets twice a week for 2 hours (usually 9-11am). Classes are facilitated in English and Spanish with age-appropriate activities that focus on different areas of development for children in the 2-4 age group.
A Typical ELR Class Day looks like this:
9:00 - 9:05AM: Greeting and Sign In - Practice Name recognition and writing skills.
9:05 - 9:15 AM: Circle Time - Interactive songs & stories.
9:15 - 10:30 AM: Centers - Guided hands-on activity stations focusing on writing, music, science, technology, and more!
10:35 - 10:50 AM: Snack Time - Clean up all together and wash hands before snack time. Healthy snack provided each session.
10:50 - 11:00 AM: Goodbye & Sign Out - Closing Circle
Can my friends attend?
New families are always welcome, but everyone has to sign up and qualify to participate. Invite friends and family to register by calling the YMCA of Austin's Program Services office at 512.236.9622.
What child care options are available for younger siblings?
Younger siblings are welcome to attend and participate in the class with your family. Caregivers are responsible for supervision of all family members.
What do I need to bring?
Minds ready to learn! When you come to class each day we provide all of the supplies needed to play and learn together as well as a snack for each child.
What should I do if I can’t attend a class?
Attendance is important to receiving the full benefits of class. However, we understand things can come up that can affect your ability to attend. Arrangement for makeup classes can be made with your teachers. If able, please inform your teachers when you are not able to attend class.
If I can’t commit to this session, can I enroll in a future program?
Yes, if this session is not convenient for your family, let us know and we can contact you for the following program.
What will I get for participating in the program?
In addition to the knowledge, skills, and support you’ll gain through the program, when you participate in ELR your family will also receive:
- Weekly take home bags with activities
- Community Resources, Calendars
- Early Intervention Screening for Children
- One month pass to the YMCA upon graduation
Does the same caregiver need to attend program each time?
It is ideal for the same caregiver to attend each program since the information you learn in each class session builds on each other. But, if this is not possible, we welcome other caregivers to come and participate in class.
What should I wear to program?
Adults and the kids will be participating in various activities, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and comfortable clothes. Avoid open-toed shoes if possible and remember that activities have the potential to get a little messy in class.
Caregivers, who have experienced the ELR Program with their children, shared their feedback via anonymous surveys:
- “I felt so alone in my teaching before I came here. The teachers helped me from the start understand other ways to teach and play.”
- “My son has become more interested in learning numbers, and he is more confident around other kids.”
- “I love that we do stuff that we would never have done at home, like making playdough, pinata, glue with pasta for example. I love that my daughter is in contact with other kids, it is a nice and smooth transition before going to school.”
"I loved the program. I liked the aspect of including the parents and the kids to learn together and how my kid learned to interact with other kids and adults for the first time."
"The teachers were always prepared. They were very inviting and always welcoming and very helpful with everything. If we had questions, they were very patient and they got to know the kids' personalities."
"The teachers are amazing, and they were always prepared. For feature classes, kids are going to like it. My daugher wanted to go every day."
"My child is excited to go to school!"
Volunteer with the Y:
YMCA Early Learning Readiness is looking for volunteers both in the classroom and behind the scenes! Preference is given to volunteers who can commit to a semester of consistent volunteering and have or desire experience in the field of early childhood development and education. If interested in learning more please call (512) 236-9622 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Community Partners:
- JE DUNN,
- City of Austin
- United Way
- Austin ISD
- Success by Six
- Literacy Coalition
- Any Baby Can
- Jerimiah Project
- Austin Public Library
- Austin Fire Department
Junior League of Austin