Holistic Learning at the Y

The Y’s Early Learning programs provide each child with a safe, warm and supportive environment in which to play and grow spiritually, mentally, and physically. Our holistic approach focuses on helping children learn foundational skills, develop healthy relationships and build self-reliance through the Y values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Research has consistently shown that children learn best through multiple sources involving play and teacher-initiated activities. The teacher’s primary objective is to meet the needs of each child with experiences that foster physical and social growth and development of a positive sense of self.

For detailed information about Early Learning at the Y review our Child Care Handbook.

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Our Programs

infant child care

Infant Program

Ages: 6 weeks - 12 months

We provide infants with a safe and nurturing environment filled with opportunities to grow, thrive, and explore the world around them with the care of loving professionals. Individual attention for your child and a stimulating atmosphere help develop the skills of grasping toys, language, and exploring movement. Activities are incorporated without disrupting our infants’ daily routines.

toddler child care

Toddler Program

Ages: 13 months - 36 months

Our toddler program nurtures and encourages your child’s natural curiosity in a fun and active learning environment. Highly trained teachers plan daily activities that encourage an enthusiastic exploration of the world. Within the consistent structure toddlers crave, children enjoy a daily balance of quiet activities, spirited music, movement, and plenty of outdoor climbing, running, and jumping.

preschool child care

Preschool Program

Ages: 37 months - 5 years

Children transition through the early stages of development toward more advanced skills they need to succeed in elementary school and beyond! Caring staff leads children in activities that introduce Kindergarten-readiness skills while supporting children’s natural curiosity about the world around them through dramatic play. Teachers encourage pro-social behavior and provide opportunities to increase self-care skills.

half day preschool child care

Part-Day Preschool Program

Ages: 37 months - 5 years

This is more than a playgroup – it’s your child’s first school experience away from parents or guardians. Designed for kids 2 – 5 years, the Y’s Part-Day Preschool program encourages social interaction and listening skills at the hands of caring, experienced teachers, and aides. Children will be introduced to the wonderful world of colors, shapes, songs, music, movement, friendship, and more. Pre-K age children will also be taught beginning writing and reading skills, along with math concepts.


School Readiness Approach

Creative Curriculum

The Creative Curriculum is used to create each classroom’s weekly lesson plans. This curriculum is aligned with the Early Learning Standards (infant – 2nd grade) and State Academic Standards. The Learning Standards build on information that children have previously learned, creating a continuum of learning that begins in infancy and extends through high school. Our main areas of concentration when developing our lesson plans are:

  • Social/Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Cognitive Development
  • Language Development

For a significant portion of the day, children are involved in self-directed activity and exploration centers. Materials in the learning centers are reflective of the study being explored, children’s cultures, and the community served at large. Teachers follow a predictable schedule that helps children to learn daily routines and what to expect from the teachers which in turn fosters self-reliance. The environment is arranged to promote self-selection, development of self-help skills, and support pro-social behavior.

Social-Emotional Learning 

Second Step has been chosen as the social emotional curriculum for our early learning programs and Pre K Counts classrooms. Through Second Step children learn prosocial behaviors and self regulation. They are taught the language of emotion and learn to identify their emotions. Children learn how to listen, pay attention, get along with others and regulate their behavior. Improved behavior leads to improved learning.

Teachers in our early learning programs are all coached in the Conscious Discipline Model. Conscious Discipline is an evidence-based, trauma-informed approach. It is recognized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) and received high ratings in 8 of 10 categories in a Harvard analysis of the nation’s top 25 social-emotional learning programs. Conscious Discipline creates a compassionate culture and facilitates an intentional shift in adult understanding of behavior via the Conscious Discipline Brain State Model. It then provides specific brain-friendly, research-backed strategies for responding to each child's individual needs with wisdom. This highly effective approach is proven to increase self-regulation, sense of safety, connection, empathy and intrinsic motivation in both children and adults.

Building Parent-Teacher Relationships

Partnering with families and making sure they have a role in their children’s education is an important part of the learning experience. Families are offered a variety of ways to be involved. Through partnerships with families, team members develop the best strategies for most effectively teaching the children in their care.

We periodically ask families to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of the program through surveys. This feedback is essential in helping us to provide programs and services that meet your expectations and needs. We have an open-door policy for enrolled families and they are always welcome to share their time, talents, culture, and interests with the program.

A Commitment to Quality

The Y is committed to providing the highest quality experience for children and families, and strives to be the provider of choice in our service areas. All of our Early Learning Centers have achieved a rating of STAR 4 and STAR 3 in Pennsylvania, and our Northeast ELC is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The Greater Philadelphia Y has a goal for 2023 is to enroll two additional ELC’s in the NAEYC accreditation process. Accreditation can take from 18 – 28 months to achieve. GPY has plans to achieve NAEYC accreditation for all Early Learning Centers by December of 2025.

Frequently Asked Questions

All Y Early Learning Centers feature the following measure to ensure the safety and well-being of our participants:

  • Protected entryway with key fob system
  • CCTV cameras in all classrooms and hallways
  • Full-time director on site with additional layers of leadership oversight and operational support
  • Regulated and licensed by the state and participate in state Quality Rating Systems

In a typical day, children are provided with hands-on, playful, developmentally appropriate experiences both indoors and out. Instruction builds upon prior learning and developed skills as children age up through the program, ensuring readiness for learning and entry into Kindergarten.

Children go outside every day, when the temperature is between 25 – 90 degrees, and there is no active precipitation or advisory to stay indoors.

Daily communication is provided through Tadpoles, a home and school app that supports two-way communication and sharing of resources, information, and photos.

All staff meet or exceed state requirements and have access to continuous education and training.