Every year, the month of April is set aside for Military Child Appreciation Month to recognize and support the children of military families. Military children face many challenges and unique experiences as a result of their parents’ service. Due to lower income rates, frequent moves, and/or military spouse unemployment, many junior-enlisted families struggle with affording quality preschool programs and military childcare to prepare their children for kindergarten.
According to research and educational publisher, Gale, “The first few years are critical to help young children navigate and transition to a variety of settings and situations, while developing their emotional skills.” Preparing children early brings long-term success.
Here are 3 ways the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) stands ready to assist you and your little ones in preparing to head off to kindergarten:
1. Operation Little Learners
ASYMCA’s Operation Little Learners is an interactive and fun educational program for both the child and parent. It helps build parent’s confidence as their child’s first teacher by providing activities that direct them on the right path to be ready for kindergarten.
Specifically geared for children ages 2-5, the focus of Operation Little Learners is phonics, writing, math and science skills. Aside from enhancing child development and early learning, another benefit of Operation Little Learners is that you are able to find a community with other parents attending with their children.
Since many military families find it difficult to afford childcare, often resorting to one parent staying home, Operation Little Learners not only provides military childcare assistance, but also a change of scenery for you and your child to bond while preparing them for the next stage of life.
2. The Children’s Waiting Room
The ASYMCA’s Children’s Waiting Room allows parents to use in-clinic childcare during their appointments at available clinics for the duration of their appointment time up to 3 hours. An essential program for parents, the Children’s Waiting Room encourages self-care by helping military families prioritize their health and well-being.
Having this service available benefits the parents’ physical and mental health as they are able to have their appointment and have peace of mind. It also benefits children because they are able to interact with the military family childcare provider as well as their peers, which expands their social skills.
As stated, daycare for military families is hard to come by with limited expenses and availability. In turn, parents put their medical needs on the back burner. With ASYMCA’s Children’s Waiting Room, parents no longer have to forgo their healthcare needs.
3. Operation Little Heroes
Finding a pre-k program that’s affordable and fits your schedule can be quite the task. Fortunately, our local ASYMCA branch offers a low-cost early learning and preschool program called Operation Little Heroes that meets two to three times a week for three hours with morning or afternoon class options.
My family stumbled across this great program by checking out our local branch’s services and it has been a wonderful experience for our four-year-old son.
During their half day of interactive and educational time together, your little ones have the opportunity to build social skills by doing activities with their peers. They are also introduced to classroom structure with class routines and learn foundational skills, like writing their names as well as letter and color development.
Since this program only meets a few times a week, it is a great start for children who struggle with separation anxiety.
The ASYMCA is Ready to Serve
With the uncertainties and challenges of military life, the ASYMCA’s core focus is on the resilience of military families. To ensure no military family is left behind, they provide quality services to assist families during transitions, financial burdens, and military childcare needs. Programs are available at little to no cost to families and require no membership fees. Kindergarten readiness prepares your little one for a successful start to their education pathway. Allow ASYMCA to assist you on the path.