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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Learning through Play at Yawkey Child Care Center’s New Gross Motor Development Space

From bike riding, climbing, movement through music, or ball play, the Yawkey Childcare Center’s new gross motor development room offers something for every child’s needs. The bright, open space, which is in the lower level of the Yawkey Center, became available to students earlier this winter and offers a wide variety of materials that promote movement, playfulness, and creative thinking.

“We have kids in our programs who need movement,” said Kathleen Nichols, Director of Childcare at the Yawkey Center. “Movement is at the core of how they learn, and they have benefited incredibly from this new space.”

The newly renovated room was funded through the Massachusetts’s Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund. Janet MacDougall, Vice President of Family & Youth Services, said Catholic Charities was able to install air purifiers, touchless features, and retractable walls that divide the room into three distinct spaces for the infants, toddlers, and preschool students with the funding.

When designing the play space, Nichols selected materials that would serve as learning tools in a range of subjects, from art to engineering. Children who require more physical movement throughout their day and those needing gross motor opportunities to develop large motor skills, are benefiting from the new play space year-round. Nichols said it has been especially useful on days when they are unable to venture outdoors due to the weather.

In addition to creating opportunities for socialization and self-expression, MacDougall said the gross motor development space helps children to strengthen their coordination, their balance, and their hippocampus and prefrontal cortexes, which enhance memory and attentive listening,

“Children’s gross motor time may be fun and games for them, but as educators we understand there is much more going on in terms of cognitive development for children when they are engaged in play,” said MacDougall.

About The Yawkey Child Care Center

The Yawkey Child Care Center in Dorchester serves families living or working in Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, Roxbury, Roslindale, and other Boston neighborhoods. Yawkey Child Care is one of five center-based child care centers within Catholic Charities Child Care Services department and enrolls approximately 1,000 children across Eastern Massachusetts. To learn more about job opportunities or ways to support the program, visit our website.

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