Early Learning Center (ELC)

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Early Learning Center (ELC)

The county’s largest provider of child care programs to nurture children’s healthy development

The Downtown YMCA Early Learning Center is a MSDE (Maryland Department of Education) Accredited facility and our well-trained staff provide safe, affordable, high-quality care so you can have peace of mind while you work. Staff members are partners with parents and other caregivers, working together to help kids grow up healthy, happy and strong. We emphasize values such as caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Like all Y programs, child care is open to all, with financial assistance available.

As always, please feel free to contact the Child Care Business Office if you have any questions.  We can be reached at 301-228-9225 or Childcarebusiness@frederickymca.org.

African American baby with pink sweater

For more information on our Early Learning Center including registration information and deadlines, please complete the form below:


Infants are nurtured by loving, experienced teachers. Our caring teachers start our high-quality program with infants at age 6 weeks old, beginning the foundation in building confidence, trust, and security for each child.

Responsive caregivers will use typical developmental milestones to structure lessons in receptive language development, gross and fine motor skill, and emotional security. Infants will learn trust as caregivers play, sing, snuggle, and read to them. Caregivers play lap and finger games, peek-a-boo, engage in movement and rhymes and conversations that give value to language.

Creating an easy-to-follow schedule for each child is a crucial way we partner with parents to establish a great foundation for continued learning.

YMCA staff in early learning center

Toddlers in our program focus on language development and building solid, trusting relationships with their teachers. These little ones are exploring textures, sounds, words, rhymes, crawling, walking, dancing, listening and taking cues from the activities of peers and their caregivers.

Toddlers are movers!

Some will be ready to focus attention and listen to a book being read, others will move from center to center and activity to activity. Time outdoors includes more exploration of the textures, temperatures, sounds and feelings found only in nature.

Language skills are encouraged with books, conversations, songs and rhyming fingerplays. Gross and fine motor skill development is achieved through daily activities.

Teachers begin moving children from individualized infant schedules to help them adapt to the world around them, partnering with parents to develop routines that work at school and at home.

Two-year Olds
Two-Year Olds

Our two-year-old groups love learning and exploration! We delight in their strong march toward independence and encourage them to try new experiences. With every, “No!” comes a step toward understanding who they are and what they can do.

Twos begin to relate to peers as “friends” and start to recognize feelings. Teachers will label those feelings to help children find language for and understand the actions that follow feelings.

Classrooms provide opportunities for little hands to freely experience the world around them. Gross and fine motor skill development is achieved through daily activities. Through centers in language development, literacy, art, dramatic play, music, math, and science, our Twos begin creating a foundation that inspires a love for learning. Outdoor spaces specifically designed for this developmental stage allow for multiple outdoor learning environments and important social-emotional experiences.

Three-Year Olds
Three-Year Olds

Three-year-olds enjoy a play-based curriculum with the goal of educating the whole child. Through a combination of child-initiated and teacher-directed activities children strengthen their skills and sense of self. The children learn to relate with peers in a small group as well as a large group activity.

Our preschool curriculum offers learning experiences that include problem-solving, literacy, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and critical concepts of social-emotional skill development. Concepts are taught through a project approach as well as play-oriented activities and games which are developmentally appropriate. Gross and fine motor skill development is achieved through daily activities.

Though there is more structure to the day, it does not inhibit a spontaneous trip to the playground, a walk to look for bugs, or time to feel the snow or splash in puddles!

Four-Year Olds
Four-Year Olds

The focus in our Four-Year-Old classroom (Preschool) is Kindergarten readiness to prepare the students for their transition to elementary school at the end of this final level of preschool.

Our program strengthens the education of the whole child through relationship building and gaining essential skills in adapting to a variety of learning modalities such as large or small groups, partner projects, and independent work. The daily schedule at this level offers both a pattern and flexibility, decision-making opportunities, and a sense of security and safety. Being able to function in a group, make friendships, handle conflict and respect the teacher as a leader is crucial to fitting into the expectations of any of their forthcoming kindergarten year.

Our preschool curriculum includes learning problem-solving skills, literacy, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts as well as essential lessons to build social-emotional skills. Concepts are taught within the context of projects, activities that can be teacher-directed or self-guided, games, and free play opportunities which are developmentally appropriate. Gross and fine motor skill development is achieved through daily activities.

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