Preschool & Pre-K

The mission of our Early Childhood Learning Center is to provide a loving, supportive, safe, and educational environment for the children in our care.

We offer a program for children ages 2½ – 5 years old, that meets the intellectual, moral, social, emotional, and physical needs of each child. We strive to create an atmosphere of acceptance in which the individual needs of each child are considered and where they can flourish and grow under the guidance of qualified staff. Contact Director April Ryder for registration information.

We commit to developing the character of each child and to promote an environment of honesty, kindness, respect, and responsibility.

Staff Onboarding and Training

Staff working with children are updated regularly on the current CDC and DCF guidelines for COVID-19 cleaning/disinfecting, as well as social distancing and PPE protocols. Additional and ongoing online training from the YMCA is provided.


Staff are required to wear masks during the duration of their shift. We continue to use household bleach to sanitize materials and surfaces, as well as provide staff with disposable gloves. Disinfectant wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizer are supplied.

Health and Wellness Precaution

Children and staff are screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering or being admitted each day. Screening includes temperature checks (may not exceed 100.4 degrees F) and symptom checks. These checks are required to be recorded and reported to the state of New Jersey.

Halls and classrooms are limited to one group at a time. Classrooms requiring more than one staff person are limited to eight children. Appropriate, compliant signage is posted as well. All cubbies were moved into classrooms to limit cross exposure of items from different classes and to help speed up drop off and pick up procedures.

Play areas are marked for children to be able to play six feet apart, to the best of our ability. Play areas requiring the sharing of toys have been removed from the classrooms and will be gradually introduced as social distancing measures loosen. Bright tape demarks spaces. Classroom rugs have been temporarily removed for easier daily cleaning and sanitizing.

“School kits” are pre-assembled for children to contain their own regular-use supplies, including art materials and tools. Furniture, including tables, were moved around to make sure there are ways to properly distance children during mealtimes.

Extra hand washing has been added into the schedule.

COVID-19 Health and Wellness Curriculum was developed for sharing and collaboration with children. Children need time to learn, process and understand what, how and why the rules are so strict. Children are invited to participate in the discussion and creation of new classroom “norms” especially in the older rooms where children know a lot about COVID-19 and social distancing. Teachers approach the return of children to the center in the same mindset as we would plan the first day of school. Children need time to adapt back into the setting, made more unfamiliar with the COVID-19 conditions. Schedule and routine will be vital from day one, but within the set schedule and routine, we are prepared to be flexible as per their social emotional and intellectual needs.

Entry Health Screenings – Staff and Children

Screening will include daily temperature and symptom check prior to entry: Temps should not exceed 100.4 degrees F; All will be asked if they are experiencing cough, shortness of breath, and/or if medications are/were used to lower temperature.

All will be asked every day if you or anyone in your home has been with anyone diagnosed positive of COVID-19 within the past 14 days AND/OR if anyone in your household has symptoms of respiratory illness (e.g. fever, shortness of breath, cough). Affirmative answers to the above symptom check will disqualify the child or adult from entering the Learning Center until they are cleared by a medical professional. We reserve the right to exclude anyone based on travel to high risk area.

Child Drop-Off

Parents must remove their child from the car. Children are brought to the vestibule for screening as they arrive. Children and parents cue according to social distancing guidelines while waiting. Parent must stay with child(ren) prior to completion of screening and intake.

Temperatures are checked by non-contact forehead heat-scan thermometers. Upon completion of screening, child is checked in, hands sanitized, removed their shoes and escorted to their classroom by staff. Children and staff wash their hands immediately when entering the classroom. Children and staff keep additional slippers or slide-on shoes at the center to change into to avoid contamination.

Items that come in from home are limited. Personal toys, stuffed, animals, etc. are excluded.

Health Exclusion from the Center (adults and children)

Staff or children who test positive for COVID-19 must remain away from the center until cleared to return by a medical professional. The local board of health will be contacted for further guidance.

Classroom Social Distancing and Materials

Children and staff remain six feet apart whenever possible. Inside six feet staff and children don a mask. Classrooms, activities and materials are limited. Play areas are established for one-at-a-time use OR table activities enabling six feet of space between children individually working with materials.

Shared materials are avoided wherever and whenever possible. Materials are cleaned and sanitized between uses. All classrooms employ the use of a Dirty Toy Bin for frequent cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day. Unnecessary materials, toys and cloth-based items (stuffed animals, pillows, etc.) have been removed from classrooms.

Groups will not mix throughout the day. Groups move individually through the center and only use the side entrance. There is no access to the elevator or back door.

Outside time: Playground is used every morning by 1 group. Children are brought to the fields for CATCH Activities that require little to no shared equipment or personal contact.

Naptime: Mats are minimally three feet apart, but optimally six feet apart, arranged “head to toe” during rest and nap. Bedding is individually bagged every day.

Meals and Snacks: During snack and mealtimes, prior-existing food handling requirements are in play in accordance to the childcare license, including the use of gloves ALWAYS when handling children’s food.

We continue to use disposable plates and utensils to prepare and serve food to children. Children are seated six feet away from each other so that they will not touch each other or each other’s food while eating. Staff and children MUST wash hands before and after mealtimes. Tables and surfaces are cleaned and sanitized before and after as well. Child comforting: Throughout the day physical comfort might need to be provided. Gloves and masks are worn.

Sick Child at the Center

A space is established at the center for children who cleared the screen but show or developed symptoms during the day: Fever exceeding 100.4 degrees F; cough; shortness of breath; other excludable symptoms according to the DCF License and DOH. Children are kept comfortable via social distance and staff don mask and other PPE to supervise at social distance. Upon the child’s exit for the day, the surfaces in the room and any touched materials are cleaned and sanitized.

Child must be cleared by a medical professional prior to returning to the center. Families and local health department will be notified if/when a staff person or child has shown COVID-19 symptoms while in the center, maintaining confidentiality as required by ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

If a child or adult from the center tests positive for COVID-19 the health department must be notified to determine an appropriate plan of action and guidance about closures and sanitizing procedures. Since restrooms are designed for one child use at a time all toilets may be used at any time during the day. Toilets are cleaned and sanitized several times throughout the day.

Child Pickup

The office is supervised at all times to be able to observe parent drive-up pick-ups. Parents must call 15 minutes before arriving and wait outside at the glass entrance where the child is brought to you.

Daily Cleaning/Sanitizing

Throughout the day, and following every use, tables and materials are cleaned with soap and water, then sanitized by bleach solution. All wiping is done with disposable paper towels and gloves. Both are disposed after each use.

Door handles, light switches and commonly touched areas are cleaned several times a day.

All surfaces and materials are cleaned and sanitized one last time. Items are taken off the floor and stored on tables for optimal night-time floor cleaning. CDC recommends HEPA vacuuming carpets and rugs.

All toys are sanitized and placed back in their appropriate bins.

Screening vestibule is cleaned and sanitized, with masks, gloves and other supplies at the ready for opening the next morning.

Our Teachers Follow the NAEYC Core Beliefs of:

  • Excellence and Innovation: We are imaginative risk takers willing to challenge assumptions while being accountable to our mission and fiscally responsible.
  • Transparency: We act with openness and clarity.
  • Reflection: We consider multiple sources of evidence and diverse perspectives to review past performance, note progress and successes, and engage in continuous quality improvement.
  • Equity & Opportunity: We advocate for policies, practices, and systems that promote full and inclusive participation. We confront biases that create barriers and limit the potential of children, families, and early childhood professionals.
  • Collaborative Relationships: We share leadership and responsibility in our work with others. We commit time and effort to ensure diverse participation and more effective outcomes. We act with integrity, respect, and trust.

We take all aspects of a child’s learning into consideration when planning age-appropriate curriculum: academic, social, and emotional.  Our school uses the creative curriculum because we feel that it is the most in line with our mission of developing the whole child. The  creative curriculum is a hands-on approach to learning where children work in small and large groups to problem-solve, create, and explore. However, we know that all children are individuals and therefore learn differently. We respect this fact and utilize components and standards of multiple curriculums to meet the personal developmental level of each child including STEAM, technology, music, and foreign language. This promotes a steady progressive pace where children achieve success.

In addition to academic learning, our curriculum promotes social and emotional growth – children learn best through experience and play. Setting up imaginative play stations that promote cooperation, kindness, communication, conversation, taking turns, and problem solving, help children learn “to be part of a group” are all part of everyday learning in our center.

Swimming instruction, gym classes, foreign language exposure, and formal music/drama instruction add additional creative outlets for our young students.

Components Include:

by, Dr. Gloria Julius

Lately, everyone seems to be talking about STEAM. It’s a hot topic in the world of education and in the business community, but what does STEAM have to do with your preschooler?

What is STEAM?

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math. You may think some of these subjects seem lofty for young children to grasp. In some ways, that’s true. Young children may not be ready to understand multiplication or how computers work. But, they can build a strong foundation for future learning by exploring STEAM preschool skills and concepts through play and discussion, then applying those skills through more play.

For young children:

  • Science encourages investigation and answering questions, often involving experimentation.
  • Technology refers to using simple tools like crayons and rulers, as well as more complex ones like microscopes and computers.
  • Engineering refers to recognizing problems and testing solutions.
  • Arts encourage creativity and allow children to illustrate concepts they are learning.
  • Mathematics deals with numbers, but also patterns, shapes, organizational skills and much more.

Why should young children learn STEAM subjects?

  • They can be learned.Children have the ability to learn foundational concepts in these subjects at a young age. Preschools and other childcare providers should nurture STEAM skills and concepts early on and build on them through ongoing opportunities for play and discussion.
  • They are useful. The skills children learn when engaging with STEAM concepts in preschool are transferable and useful across many aspects of their lives. For example, process skills, which include making observations, hypothesizing and critical thinking, are basic skills for math and science but are also valuable skills for learning any subject.
  • They are in demand.Have you ever thought about what your child’s life might be like in 20 years? In some ways it is hard to imagine what career options children might have as adults. One thing is certain, skills in science, technology, engineering and math will be increasingly important. For early education providers, part of our responsibility to children is preparing them for the realities they’ll face later in life.

What should STEAM look like for young children?

  • An important part is introducing children to the right activities at the right times. We introduce children to new skills and concepts when they are developmentally ready, making learning fun and natural. Science, technology, engineering, art and math are part of daily life. Therefore, it makes sense that children should explore these subjects in an integrated way every day through books, discussions, experiments, art projects, educational games and more. This method is far more effective than limiting instruction of STEAM subjects or any subject to only certain times of the day or week.

$1 Million gift renames childcare center to Marion Mann Roberts Early Childhood Learning Center.

Marion Mann Roberts, a long time friend of the Y and generous donor for many years to our annual Give a Kid the Y campaign, passed away in 2003. The Y was fortunate to be named in her will as a recipient of a $1 million endowment.

In the Fall of 2007 a dedication ceremony was held and the center was renamed in her memory to honor Marion’s wish to provide scholarships for less fortunate children.The interest from this gift will be used each year to fund approximately 29 scholarships for childcare and camp – truly a meaningful legacy for the Y and for those it will help.

Marion supported the Y’s mission throughout the years not only with her time and spirit as a trustee, but also as a friend to all. She always made it a point to ask about the children in the center and was delighted when she received personal correspondence from the kids she helped. Sometimes she would come and relax in the Y lobby and just happily observe the activities. She would get a kick out of hearing the kids’ conversations and watching them come and go.

An ardent horsewoman, Marion enjoyed introducing the Girl Scouts of Rockaway Valley Troop No. 8 to the pleasures of horsemanship. She was equally at home delivering lambs at her farm, or flying a small plane, as she was in visiting the museums around the world.

Options & Registration

The Lakeland Hills Family YMCA offers a variety of Preschool & Pre-K program options to meet the various needs within our community. Check out our options and find the right one for you and your family.

Our Staff

The The Lakeland Hills Family YMCA Preschool & Pre-K teachers are responsible for all planning and programming for the individual needs of their class. Find out more about these individuals.