The Portage Township YMCA has provided early education focused on academics and social skills for over 40 years. Portage Township Schools reported that 96% of the Portage Y’s 2018 graduates were performing above academic expectations, and the remaining 4% were performing as expected. Despite the program’s proven outcomes, it will be redeveloped for the 2019-2020 school year through the use of funds provided from the United Way Porter County.
The most visible change to the Portage Y’s preschool program is the increased activity time during the school day. Curriculum now includes gym time with the Sports Coordinator and structured activities such as gymnastics, dance, and yoga. Character Development, which focuses on the five practice areas of Responsibility, Personal Development, Relationship Building, Empathy, and Emotion Management, will be integrated into all activities. Staff will be trained through the YMCA’s Character Development Leadership Institute which teaches our adults to intentionally practice character development that will build the non-academic skills needed to help our young people flourish. The Portage Y will continue to offer its trusted academic curriculum by using hands-on learning activities.
Five-day classes have been added to the program’s line-up as well as a one-day class for two-year-olds. “Parents have asked for this ever since full-day Kindergarten began. The emotional and social transition from preschool to Kindergarten is a more difficult jump than it was just eight years ago. Now parents have more choices to suit their individual child: start preschool earlier and whether to enroll in our 4- or 5-day program.” said Erin Robles, Sr. Programs and Marketing Director.
Shannon Burhans, CEO for the Portage YMCA asked the school system’s administrators what the Portage Y’s preschool could do to better prepare it’s children for Kindergarten. “I was surprised at the answer. They asked if we could do more to develop our students’ fine and gross motor skills. Kids just aren’t getting enough activity time.” A number of educators blame the reduction in basic motor skills and increasing classroom behavior problems on the recent rampant use of technology by babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. The devices are here to stay, but the Portage Y’s Active Learning Academy expects to diminish their negative impact through its new program.
Registration is still open, but spaces are limited. http://www.ymcaofportage.org/youth-development/education--enrichment/preschool-academy.html. The YMCA is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits and is committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y is available to ALL, financial assistance is always available for membership and programming.