All children require a strong foundation during their early years to be ready to begin kindergarten, and, this fall, the Wabash County YMCA has launched CareTogether to help build that foundation. In this free program, children ages newborn to five years old meet twice a week for two hours to learn, grow and play together. Caregivers of the children (parents, grandparents, babysitters) are active participants in the program, playing and learning together with the child in their care. Children who may not be enrolled in formal preschool will learn skills they need for future schooling, while their caregivers learn how to better support their development at home.
Imagine a retired grandfather who suddenly becomes full-time caregiver for his 3-year-old granddaughter when her mother cannot afford preschool. How does he fill their days? How does he help his granddaughter grow and learn? How does he connect with others and avoid isolation as the caregiver of a young child?
For this man, the answers come through CareTogether. Twice a week, the pair makes their way to the program, where staff welcomes a group of grandparents, other relatives, friends and neighbors caring for children under 5.
In North Manchester, CareTogether meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings on the second floor of the Town Life Center at 603 Bond Street. In Wabash, the group meets Monday and Wednesday mornings in the Wabash Presbyterian Church Education Building at 123 West Hill Street. CareTogether meets from 9-11 a.m. in both locations.
Each program meeting begins with a short circle time of songs and stories, led by a trained staff member. Then, children and caregivers are invited to visit any or all of the 13 learning centers. These centers offer different activities for early learning and skill building, from blocks and play dough to puzzles and science. Activities change each week.
CareTogether supports both caregivers and young children. It assists caregivers in getting children “school ready.” Both children and adults can enjoy toys, books, games, a healthy snack and more, all for no cost. Children engage in active play, developing physically, verbally and socially. Caregivers learn more about how to help children learn and be ready for school. The adults will also have a chance to meet and form bonds with one another.
All children and caregivers are welcome. For more information, please call Amanda Jones-Layman at 260-563-9622, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by either of the program locations.