It’s never too early to begin teaching a child basic skills. According to educators, many important cognitive skills are developed by the time a child reaches age three and children who start grammar school behind their peers have a reduced likelihood of future academic success.
The YMCA of Coastal Georgia’s Early Learning Readiness program “Explore my world” will celebrate its third anniversary this spring. Since its inception, this free program has facilitated early childhood development skills in young children as well as teaching caregivers how to help them learn.
This year the program is offered at two locations: the Liberty County YMCA in Hinesville and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Port Wentworth. (See ad for addresses and hours.) The programs are conducted in English and Spanish and are led by Erin Chester and Myrna Guerrero who are fluent in both languages.
Erin Chester is also the Military Support Program Director for the Liberty County YMCA in Hinesville. She said the free learning classes are designed to make learning activities fun. “We have fourteen learning centers and each of them emphasizes a different set of basic skills,” she said. “We teach skills that are essential for future academic success but the emphasis is always on fun. During the two hours we spend with children and their caregivers, we alternate “circle time” (learning sessions) with free play.”
The typical two-hour session includes singing, writing, drawing and coloring, and the all-important story-time where children learn to listen and follow along as children’s books are read to them. According to Chester, “This program instills in children and their caregivers a lifelong love for learning through play. Our play sessions also provide children with important socialization skills. ”
Myrna Guerrero leads the “Explore my world” program at Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic Church in Port Wentworth. This church has a very active Hispanic congregation and Guerrero encourages all Latino parents who live in the area to include their children in this free learning program “Our program is unique because we focus on both the children and their parent or caregivers,” Guerrero said. “We teach the adults how to help their children learn basic skills like the alphabet, and colors and shapes. And we always emphasize the importance of reading to their children at home.”
“Explore my World” is free and open to all children- ages birth to 5-years-old. Hinesville classes meet twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) from 10 am to noon, and the Port Wentworth classes meet twice a week (Wednesdays and Fridays) from 10 am to noon.
Parents and caregivers can pre-register by calling 912-354-5480 or 912-368-9622 (Hinesville). Or they can register on site with one of the directors.
Our Lady of Lourdes
501 Coastal Hwy
Garden City GA, 31407
Liberty County YMCA
201 Mary Lou Drive
Hinesville, GA 31313