Early childhood is a special time when the seeds of future success are planted.

Research has shown that the growth and development of a child during the first six years of their life has more influence on their learning, behaviour and health into adulthood than at any other time.

With this in mind, our YMCA Early Learning and Care programs are designed to nurture the development of your child in all areas through our YMCA Playing to Learn™ curriculum.

What is YMCA Playing to Learn™?

Developed in 2001 by a team of child care experts at the YMCA of Greater Toronto, our YMCA Playing to Learn curriculum prepares children ages 0-6 for school and life-long achievement by nurturing their curiosity and development in the most natural way possible…through play!

An integral part of all licensed YMCA early learning child care across Canada since 2007, YMCA Playing to Learn aligns with all provincial early learning frameworks adopted to date and is based on research and evidence that shows play is the most effective way that children learn and gain new skills.  

How does YMCA Playing to Learn use play as a learning medium?

  • Exciting playscapes are set-up throughout the centre to provide planned play activities based on your child’s interests
  • Play activities incorporate the foundations of language and literacy, math and sciences, creative arts and
  • Your child will actively explore and learn to become a self-directed problem solver, developing an excitement for learning!

Why is a YMCA Playing to Learn centre different from other child care centres?

  • Instead of bright primary colours, we create a calm environment conducive to learning by using lots of natural materials and by having living things like plants and fish for children to care for
  • Instead of following a rigid schedule, children make their own choices based on their interests, joining small groups facilitated by an educator throughout the centre
  • Giving children these choices allow our play environments to be calm yet stimulating which supports the development of self-regulation and of course, learning.

How will I know how my child is doing?

As a parent, it’s important for you to know how your child spends their days and how they are progressing. Unique to YMCA Playing to Learn is our “learning evidence” documentation. We’ll share written documentations regularly about a learning process your child experienced, independently or as part of a group. These documentations describe a play experience and the learning and development that this experience has enhanced. A supporting quote is given describing how the learning and development supported by educational research.

As you read through these over time, you’ll see the amazing story of how your child is learning and developing as they grow up!

Our YMCA Playing to Learn Educators

YMCA Playing to Learn Educators make sure every day is a special day for your child. They are qualified professionals who receive extensive in-house training, mentorship and coaching:

  • Qualified to the provincial standards where they are located
  • Completed supplemental trainings in the YMCA Playing to Learn curriculum
  • Trained in developing respectful and responsive relationships with children
  • Trained in intentional program planning to build environments where children can feel physically and emotionally safe to play and therefore learn

Annual Evaluations

Each YMCA Playing to Learn classroom is evaluated annually by external auditors in order to assess quality curriculum standards. 

To register your child

To find a YMCA Playing to Learn centre near you, visit the website of your local YMCA. A YMCA Playing to Learn centre may not be available in all areas.