Healthy Kids Y Stories YMCA Child Care

Aurora YMCA Nursery program primes preschoolers for kindergarten

A preschooler sits at a table looking at animal flash cards

It’s an early autumn morning, and soon-to-be-kindergarteners are beginning to arrive at the Aurora YMCA Centre for another day of nursery school. For over 30 years, the centre has provided Aurora-area families with a child care program that lays the foundation for healthy childhood development.

“Hi!” a little girl excitedly shouts as Melissa and Kim, the centre’s two Early Childhood Educators, emerge to welcome parents and children into the classroom. Over the next 6 months, they’ll work with this year’s group of 2.5- to 4-year-olds to help them get a grip on kindergarten basics.

Supporting this transition makes a world of difference for families. “Our play-based program gradually introduces children to both a social and learning environment prior to them jumping into full-day kindergarten,” Melissa explains. For many of children who attend the nursery school, it’s their first time in a child care program, which means they’ll also receive a lesson on classroom expectations as well as gain strong social skills. “Nursery school provides an opportunity for my kids to make friendships, and learn rules and routines outside of the home,” says Erin, a mother of four whose children have all thrived while in the program. “Everything from waiting your turn, to managing your belongings, to creating and exploring is fostered through the Aurora Nursery.”

Part of what makes the nursery school so unique is that it follows the traditional school year calendar but only operates for 2.5 hours a day. For some families, this is one of the school’s best assets. Anna, for instance, appreciates that the condensed program allows her son to maintain his nap schedule, in addition to giving him a “good balance between home activities with the family and a structured child care program preparing him for kindergarten.” Blake, meanwhile, loves the flexibility that the 2.5-hour program offers her as a mom. “It’s just enough,” she says. “A perfect amount of time to get a few things done at home while knowing that my kids are safe and happy.”

And like all YMCA of Greater Toronto Child Care programs, the nursery school is structured by the YMCA Playing to Learn curriculum. Conceived by a team of child care experts, the Y’s philosophy on education is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, the curriculum stresses providing kids with activities based on their interests and uses play as a vehicle to promote learning. Through developmentally appropriate play activities that stoke young children’s natural curiosity, kids in the nursery program have fun as they develop the essential skills (such as early math, pre-reading, and pre-writing) needed to face the academic rigors ahead with confidence. Children also spend their day engaging in activities that help them stay physically active, and learning about healthy eating habits as they munch on the nutritious snacks provided.

Now 9 a.m., Kim tells the children: “Okay friends, we’re going to wave to our moms and dads. They’ll see you later today.” The children have been in the program for a little over a month and those once tearful goodbyes with their parents on the first few days of school have since been replaced with smiles and excitement. The group of preschoolers wave goodbye and follow Kim and Melissa through the doors of their classroom, ready to embark on a new learning adventure.

Think nursery school might be right for your child? Enroll them in the Aurora YMCA Centre Nursery program! Our academically sound curriculum and qualified early childhood educators will ensure your child receives the support they need to make a seamless transition to full-day kindergarten.