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Prepare Your Child For Success 

The YMCA's early learning programs are designed to provide an engaging curriculum that prepare preschoolers to enter Kindergarten on a path to read to learn by third grade and develop healthy habits in a fun, safe, supportive environment. Our programs are NAEYC accredited, and state-licensed.

Ensuring School Readiness.
Child development experts agree that the first experiences of every child set the stage for success not only in school but in life. YMCA Early Learning Centers do exactly that, by creating a caring environment that allows every child to learn in distinctive, individual ways and explore what they find interesting and stimulating.

With a child-centered, holistic approach to early learning, the Creative Curriculum focuses on 8 core content areas (including STEAM project-based learning):

Brother and sister reading a book
  • Arts
  • Character Development
  • Healthy Habits
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social studies
  • Technology

The Y Early Learning Difference

Applying Evidence-Based Strategies
Developed by The Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School, the Read Right from the Start (RRFTS) program provides our early learning teachers with evidence-based classroom strategies and tools to effectively build the language skills of all children. As a result, children who graduate from Y early learning programs are ready to start school and on-track to achieve grade level reading.

Developing Healthy Habits
All early learning programs currently offer Start For Life, a program developed for children ages 3 to 5 that consists of 30 minutes of moderate and vigorous exercise, 5 days per week led by early learning teachers during the school day. It provides a variety of fun activities to help build strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility. In addition, a series of self-management and skill-building exercises are used to reinforce healthy behaviors over time.

Focusing on Family
At the Y, we focus on the whole child AND the whole family. Through parent and family support programs, our trained staff work to connect you with the resources and assistance you need to keep your family healthy and happy.

Early Learning at the Y is sponsored by

Carter's, Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation and United Way of Greater Atlanta logo







Our Early Learning Programs

Head Start & Early Head Start

Y Early Learning offers Head Start and Early Head Start, which are free, federally funded programs designed to promote school readiness for children from low-income families. Early Head Start serves pregnant women and families with children under age 3. Head Start programs serve children from 3 - 5 years old.

Find Head Start & Early Head start Locations

Georgia Pre-K

Many Y Early Learning Centers offer Georgia Pre-K a lottery-funded educational program for Georgias four-year-olds to prepare children for Kindergarten. Pre-K gets children ready to learn, teaches important social and emotional skills and fosters the development of verbal skills and self-control.

Find Georgia Pre-K Locations

Traditional Pre-School Programs

Y Early Education does what we are known for: inspiring kids and families to be the best they can be in mind, body and spirit. Kids receive a foundation of learning while integrating the Y core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. We are committed to helping children become lifelong learners, have fun, and make new friends.

Find Traditional Preschool Locations

Early Learning Readiness

Early Learning Readiness brings the preschool experience to local churches and community centers, providing a high-quality learning experience for children in predominantly Hispanic communities of Atlanta. Caregivers engage with their children in a dual-language learning environment that promotes active learning through play.

Learn More

Quality Early Education Matters

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Cognitive Development
In YMCA Early Learning Programs, children can progressively build the cognitive skills to evaluate, analyze, remember, compare, and understand cause and effect, laying the foundation to become life-long learners.
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Emotional Development
At the Y, we believe that during your child’s earliest years, it’s crucial that they experience, learn to regulate, and express a range of emotions while also developing close, satisfying relationships with other children and adults.
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Academic Achievement
Studies show that kids who complete early learning programs have higher test scores throughout school, higher grades in reading and math, and a better chance of staying in school and attending college.
Learn More About Y Early Learning Programs
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Child development experts agree that the first experiences of every child set the stage for success not only in school but in life. YMCA Early Learning Centers do exactly that, by creating a caring environment that allows every child to learn in distinctive, individual ways and explore what they find interesting and stimulating.

Infants and toddlers learn trust through activities that focus on fun, creativity and interaction. It is this early socialization that helps to build confidence and self-reliance in later years. Along with mobility and early language skills, young children are encouraged to explore the world around them in any way they choose.

Our nurturing environment stimulates children from six weeks to five years of age. Programs may vary from one location to another, but each of our Early Learning Centers places a priority on individual growth and positive reinforcement. In this way, we prepare children to thrive in elementary school, to respect others, to foster creativity and curiosity, and to provide guided play opportunities that emphasize cooperation and respect for others.

We believe that these are important life skills that cannot be introduced too early in a child’s life. The curriculum used at our YMCA Early Learning Centers, are based on comprehensive program principles while aiming to facilitate the optimal development of the “whole child” -cognitive, social, emotional and physical.

YMCA Early Learning Center programs are familial and oriented toward all family members. Not only are they designed to meet the needs of the varied communities they serve, they also deliver an individualized experience to each child, one that presents varied opportunities and fosters unique experiences. With safe, age-appropriate supervised care, daily schedules that meet the needs of local parents as well as the children, and activities intentionally designed to foster feelings of belonging, we strive to help our young people grow to be the best versions of themselves.

Another important tenet of our programming is the ongoing emphasis on healthy lifestyles. We stress the importance of fresh air, physical activity and proper nutrition. At our Early Learning Centers, our educators and staff who interact with our children, model our pillars of Healthy Living and Social Responsibility.

No matter what programs we offer — from infant care to pre-school learning programs, from group games and sports to school-age child care, from homework support to arts and crafts — our primary focus is on building relationships and creating a sense of belonging.

Early Head Start is available for pregnant moms, infants + toddlers up to age 3. Head Start is available for children ages 3-5.

The YMCA’s NAEYC accredited Early Head Start and Head Start programs are comprehensive early childhood programs that develop social competence in children. These programs are federally funded and guided by a set of program performance standards that specify a wide range of services to ensure comprehenisie care including health, education, parent involvement, and social services.

This program is available to all families at no cost, if they meet the eligibility requirements. Our program prioritize enrollment based on the families with the greatest need.

Head Start Program Hours (no cost)
Monday - Friday 8:00am - 2:30pm

Extended Care Hours (no cost)
Monday - Friday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
*No cost for those who qualify.

What documents do I need at the time of registration to determine my eligibility?
Age and income verification are the only eligibility requirements for your child’s participation. Income must reflect previous 12 months or last calendar year.

The following documents are acceptable for age verification:

  • Child’s birth certificate
  • Hospital confirmation of birth
  • Baptismal certificate, or
  • Immunization certificate

The following documents are acceptable for income verification:

  • Tax return from the previous Year
  • Documentation of SSI, SNAP, TANF (cash only), homelessness, or foster care
  • Pay stubs (at least 1 month)
  • Written statements from employer
  • Declarations for self-employment

For a complete list of frequently asked questions about applying for and enrolling in Head Start & Early Head Start, please call (404) 420-5800.


What is Georgia’s Pre-K Program? Georgia’s Pre-K Program is a state of Georgia lottery-funded program for eligible four-year-olds who resides in the state of Georgia. Georgia’s Pre-K Program aims to provide at no cost a minimum of 180 full days (6.5-hours) of high-quality educational/instructional services to prepare children for kindergarten.

Age Requirement 
Children must be four years of age on September 1 of the current school year based on acceptable documentation, such as: birth certificates, certificates of live birth, passports, official medical documents, legal documents, official documents from other countries.

For Ages 4 - 5
The YMCA’s NAEYC accredited Pre-K programs provide 6.5 hours of instructional service five days per week. Each class is led by qualified staff and designed to promote growth in language, literacy, math, science, art, music, phsyical development, and social concepts. Eligibility This program is funded by the state of Georgia and is offered to families at no cost. GA Pre-K Program Hours (no cost) Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 2:30pm Extended Care Hours (no cost) Monday - Friday 2:30pm - 5:30pm

How much does it cost to register for Pre-K?
There is no registration fee for the 6.5 hour instructional day.

Who is eligible for Georgia’s Pre-K Program?
Children must be age-eligible (four-years-old on September 1) and a Georgia resident. Acceptable proof of age and residency must be on file the day the child begins the Pre-K program.

What is considered acceptable documentation for proof of age?

  • Original/certified birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Green card
  • Pink card
  • Federal I-94 card
  • Hospital record of live birth

*Immunization forms and Medicaid cards are not acceptable documentation for proof of age.

Residency Requirement
The child must be a Georgia resident. For the Pre-K program, a Georgia resident is defined as a child who resides in Georgia. Proof of residency should be part of a child’s on-site file before or on the first day of school. Acceptable proof of residency includes the following: current lease, property tax notice, homeowner’s insurance bill, mortgage statement, current vehicle registration form, a letter from shelter, letter from employer if employer provides housing, any utility bill listing the residence as the service address, current PeachCare eligibility documents (PeachCare card or eligibility letter) for the child.

If a student’s family lives with someone else, parents should provide a notarized affidavit from the property owner stating where the child’s family is residing, plus a copy of the property owner’s proof of residency (any items listed above).

Active-duty military families can support Georgia residency with a copy of official military orders verifying Georgia residency during the school year.

What is considered acceptable documentation for proof of residency?

  • Current Lease  
  • Property Tax Notice
  • Homeowner’s Insurance Bill
  • Mortgage Statement
  • Current Vehicle Registration Form
  • Letter from Shelter
  • Letter from employer if employer provides housing
  • Any Utility bill listing the residence as the service address
  • Current PeachCare eligibility documents for the child

*A cell phone bill or driver’s license are not acceptable proof of residency

For complete details about Georgia Pre-K and how to enroll, please click here.

Our program uses a 2-generation approach that supports family well-being as well as the families as their children’s first and most important teachers. Families have the opportunity to engage with our teaching staff to share information about their children and received information and resources on how to continue the learning at home.

On-site engagement opportunities are offered throughout the year and through our community partnerships our families are connected to additional learning opportunities and much needed resources resources.

The request a visit, tour or for more information about YMCA early Learning, please contact the center directly or call the main office at (404) 420-5800

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Our Early Learning Partners

Partnerships with the following organizations allow the YMCA to ensure we are providing the highest-quality care and education for our early learning students and their families.

  • Atlanta Public Schools
  • Atlanta Speech School
  • Bright From the Start
  • Elbert County Board of Education
  • Georgia Pre-K
  • Health and Human Services
  • Morgan County Board of Education
  • National Head Start Association
  • Region IV Head Start

Join Our Staff

Our licensed, highly-skilled staff love what they do and it shows in the gentle care we provide. In addition to 30 hours of STARS program training, Y staff participate in annual trainings, continuing education, development days, on the job training, and learning modules. 

Affordable for All

Every kid deserves the benefits of quality early learning and youth programs and family financial situations should not be a barrier to this. Many of our Early Learning programs are free for those who qualify, and financial assistance is available on a sliding scale.

Get Involved At The Y

From toddlers through teens, the Y provides a caring community with programs that support kids as they grow with early education, youth sports, healthy living, camp, academics, and more. The Y helps kids develop to their fullest potential in spirit, mind, and body.