Free summer activities available for under-6 set

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Early childhood program opens June 10 at four locations

By Anna Taylor

Children can learn through play this summer. That’s the idea behind Central Kentucky Community Foundation’s Get Ready! program.

The goals of the program include providing learning opportunities for children from birth to age 5, helping parents discover how they can begin learning with their children, and increasing community awareness of the importance of early childhood learning.

This year’s program runs weekdays from June 10 through July 3.

The program has expanded to four Get Ready! locations, one more than last year. Get Ready! will be held at Helmwood Heights, Van Voorhis, G.C. Burkhead and North Park elementary schools.

Parents and families may bring children younger than 6 to Helmwood Heights and Van Voorhis any time between 9 and 11 a.m. to take part.

Activities at G.C. Burkead and North Park are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays.

The program is free and no registration is required.

Although at elementary schools, the program doesn’t take place in average classrooms and does not require typical school supplies.

Hands-on activities and interactive games instead take place in a cafeteria or commons area.

“We don’t use a lot of educational props and materials,” said Davette Swiney, president and CEO of Central Kentucky Community Foundation and program coordinator. “You don’t have to order it from some educational agency. We use products that people will have in their home or that they can pick up at the dollar store.”

While every week of Get Ready! is based around a specific theme, every day is different so participants can come when and how often they can.

All participating teachers are certified in early childhood education and work as volunteers. They now are training for and planning this year’s program.

Aside from children learning, Swiney said the program can give parents and family members ideas for things to do at home with their children to help them continue the learning process.

“We want the parents to be their child’s first and best teacher,” Swiney said.

Three years ago, Get Ready! did not exist but  because there was an identifiable need for it, Central Kentucky Community Foundation created it.

“When we looked across the community at what was here, there is a lot of great educational entities and opportunities ... but what we found was fewer opportunities in the early childhood education area,” Swiney said.

Research released each year proves a child’s early years are important for academic development and problem solving, Swiney said.

“(The foundation) said ‘What can we do in that age group to help make a difference in early childhood education, both in opportunities for people, but also to raise awareness in the community about the importance of early childhood education?’” she said.

From that, Get Ready! was created and continues to grow. Last year, nearly 400 children participated and the foundation expects more to attend this summer.

Anna Taylorcan be reached at 270-505-1747 or ataylor@thenewsenterprise.com.