Remote learning plans have thrown modern schooling into a tailspin.
With kids learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, students as young as kindergarten are navigating how to log into new programs, learning to trust new technology and adjusting to the loss of shared playtime with classmates.
Parents, meanwhile, are trying to help their kids with assignments while being attentive to their own at-home work or caring for younger children. In many cases, parents have relied on relatives or babysitters to step in and help children navigate online school when their jobs require them to return to the office or workplace.
For those parents — as well as those hoping that a grandparent can quickly learn the logistics of Zoom if a child loses their Wi-Fi connection — the YMCA has a solution.
Y Learning Centers, set up at locations in southeast Michigan, are dedicated to students grades K-8 to have a space to learn while their parents are working away from the home.
“This is one of the reasons why we exist; it is part of our mission,” says Helene Weir, president and CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit. “It is just one more way to demonstrate the Y’s commitment to community by providing essential services to support families and children.”
What it is
Y Learning Centers opening Sept. 8 are available at Boll Family YMCA, Downriver Family YMCA, Farmington Family YMCA and South Oakland Family YMCA. YMCA Camp Ohiyesa and partner schools in Farmington Hills are open now.
Camp Ohiyesa also provides transportation from four central pickup locations in Birmingham, Milford, Novi and White Lake.
The spaces will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to give kids a space to learn. There will be one learning coach available for every nine students to make sure kids have internet access and are properly logging into their classes.
Desks and learning areas will be spaced at socially distant locations throughout the centers so that students can maintain a healthy distance while listening to their own teachers.
For siblings younger than 5, slots are also available for childcare services while parents are at work.
What students have
In addition to access to a stable learning environment, students will also be able to use the equipment at the YMCA during their “recess” or off-screen time.
Kids will bring their own technology and have access to adults who can help with homework. During “down” time, crafts and other activities will be available as well as STEM-based projects, literacy programs and nutrition activities.
What parents have
Parents will have peace of mind knowing that their children are engaged while Mom and Dad are at work.
Families will pay between $30-$37 per day for the program, which is below cost thanks to donors and partnerships with surrounding schools. Financial assistance is also available for those in need.
All participants will run through a health screening each morning, so parents will know that their children will be around other healthy students.
The YMCA held summer camps all summer long, serving nearly 500 children at 11 locations using the protocol put in place by the CDC and State of Michigan, and parents expressed their gratitude for this much-needed resource.
“Thank you so much for being brave to open your camp for the children who desperately needed it after the lockdown. Thank you for being responsible and careful to keep every single person safe and healthy. Thank you for being creative to engage the kids in various fun and educational activities,” wrote Natalya Povolotskiy, a YMCA Day Camp parent, to the staff at her local Y. “My husband and I cannot thank you all enough for bringing some normalcy into our lives.”
Learn more about Y Learning Centers and register your child at ymcadetroit.org.