The old adage “it takes a village to raise a child” couldn’t ring truer for Whitney and Justin. “It’s like a team trying to raise kids,” says Whitney when discussing the network of support that the parents have found at the YMCA. Having experienced the Infant, Toddler, and Preschool programs, their daughter Amelia has spent much of her young life surrounded by YMCA caregivers and, according to Whitney, “they’ve had a huge impact on her.”
With every passing year that Amelia spent in the care of her nurturing educators, she excelled developmentally. However, despite being a “tough kid” who never shied away from an adventure, Amelia found handling conflict with her peers challenging. “She didn’t really know how to stand up for herself,” Whitney remembers. “If something happened to her, she would literally freeze. She wouldn’t speak up.” Whitney and Justin wanted Amelia to develop a strong sense of self-respect, but were unsure how they could empower their young daughter to express her feelings.
Always on the lookout for age-appropriate development, Amelia’s teachers approached Whitney to discuss how she could be supported in the classroom and at home to develop more assertiveness. “They really helped her,” Whitney says. “They watched her daily interactions [with the other children] and actively looked for opportunities where they could step in and help her find her voice.” And in good time, Amelia learned that her words had power.
Now an assertive, resilient three-and-a-half-year-old, Amelia is headed to kindergarten in September and one thing is certain: she’s well prepared for this new adventure. “I have no worries about Amelia when she starts junior kindergarten,” Whitney say. “They [YMCA educators] have just covered so much [material].” Since infancy, Amelia’s caregivers have worked to equip her with the tools needed to succeed in primary school and now, as Whitney explains, “she’s socially, emotionally, and physically ready.”