Preparing for Kindergarten


Bittersweet is the day when parents say goodbye to their young ones on their first day of school. If you have a child who is attending kindergarten for the first time this fall, you’re likely either breathing a sigh of relief or your heart is breaking just thinking about it.

Kindergarten is an important time in a child’s life. Whether you’re enrolling them in a half-day kindergarten or full-day program, their social skills will be developed, their attention spans will be tested, and their horizons will be expanded.

Preparing your child for kindergarten may not seem like a high priority, but in fact, preparing your child for their kindergarten experience will help them significantly in adjusting to the new learning environment. According to an article from MayoClinic, “Kindergarten marks the start of a child’s formal education. […] As a result, it’s important to make sure that when your child begins school he or she is developmentally ready to learn and participate in classroom activities.”

During the kindergarten phase, children are typically exposed to letters and sounds, writing, numbers and counting, shapes and objects, and times and seasons, according to In order to help your child transition and learn during the year, it’s important that parents play a significant role in encouraging, supporting, and coaching their children in the home.


Kindergarten is a time of exploration as children learn to be more confident and self-reliant. According to, there are a variety of skills that your children should possess or begin to possess as they enter Kindergarten, including:

  • Identify some letters of the alphabet
  • Grip a pencil, crayon, or marker correctly (with the thumb and forefinger supporting the tip)
  • Use scissors, glue, paint, and other art materials with relative ease
  • Write his/her first name using upper and lowercase letters, if possible
  • Count to 10
  • Bounce a ball
  • Speak using complete sentences
  • Identify rhyming words
  • Repeat his full name, address, phone number, and birthday
  • Manage bathroom needs
  • Follow directions
  • Clean up after his/herself
  • Listen to a story without interrupting
  • Separate from parents easily

This list is not extensive and mastering everything on it is not essential to beginning Kindergarten. Children will learn and develop these skills and others, so it is only encouraged that children come as prepared as possible for these learning opportunities.


As their parent or caretaker, you can help them prepare as much as possible over the summer and while they’re in school by continuing to play, read, and explore new things with your child. Asking your children what they learned when they come home from Kindergarten and showing an interest in what they’ve learned can help foster your relationship with your child, especially if they’re not enjoying being away from home.  It won’t be long before they begin to incorporate what they’ve learned in their activities at home!

The most important attribute to knowing if your child is ready for kindergarten is their eagerness or interest in learning.  Kindergarten is all about learning basic skills and knowledge through colorful, fun games and activities.  If your child is interested in learning, you can rest easy knowing that Kindergarten is a great next step!

Select branches at the Harrisburg Area YMCA offer Half-Day Kindergarten programs for children who are enrolled in an AM or PM class this upcoming school year. We provide enrichment activities such as arts and crafts, imaginative play, listening, reading, math, and science in a safe and supportive environment. For more information on our current Half-Day Kindergarten Programs, please visit our website and select your branch!

-Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator

Love Your Heart

love your heart

Did you wear red last Friday?

If so, you were one of the millions sporting the color for National Wear Red Day. Each year in February, the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute partner up to speak out about heart disease claiming the lives of thousands of women every year. Men and women choose to wear red on the first Friday of February in order to raise awareness for the disease and encourage more women to take care of their hearts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer” in the United States. That’s just a little over half of the population. What about the other 47%?

Raising awareness for heart disease is the first step to increasing this 54%.  From heart attacks to strokes, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of heart disease, along with the lifestyle changes needed to reduce your risk.

Symptoms and signs of heart disease vary from person to person and are not always noticed. Forms of heart disease can either come on quietly (which is why hypertension is known as the “silent killer”) or display detectable signs. According to Mayo Clinic, many of these signs include:

If you experience any of these symptoms, even if they appear minor, it’s important to contact your doctor right away. You may be detecting a heart attack, infection, or heart defect.

In order to prevent heart disease as much as possible, it’s important to live out a heart-healthy lifestyle. Reducing your risk of heart disease can be done in a variety of ways and can begin today. WebMD provides 8 ways to lower your risk of heart disease:

  1. Quit Smoking.” Smoking is highly damaging to your lungs, which is why you two times more likely to have a heart attack than if you don’t smoke. One of the best things you can do for your health (for heart disease and cancer) is to quit smoking – our Harrisburg Area YMCA branches offer Freedom from Smoking courses to the community to help you with quitting.
  2. Improve Cholesterol Levels. Your cholesterol is important to monitor because it can clog arteries in the heart and lead to heart disease or stroke. According to WebMD, “To help lower cholesterol levels, eat a diet low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and refined sugars and high in fiber.”
  3. Control High Blood Pressure.” High blood pressure is very common. According to EverydayHealth, “cutting back on dietary salt, quitting smoking, eating a plant-based diet, exercising regularly, losing excess weight, and managing stress” are a few ways to help lower your blood pressure.
  4. Get Active.” Exercising regularly can help lower your risk, as well. According to, “When it’s exercised, the heart can pump more blood through the body and continue working at optimal efficiency with little strain. This will likely help it to stay healthy longer.”
  5. Follow A Heart-Healthy Diet.” Eating the right foods can also improve your heart function and your body’s overall health. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy diet should include “a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, [and] non-tropical vegetable oils.”
  6. Get To A Healthy Weight.” Healthy weights are determined through a variety of factors including age, sex, and height. Talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight looks like for you.
  7. Control Diabetes.” Diabetes can also increase your risk for heart disease. If you think you may be developing diabetes, make sure to talk to your doctor and get the proper treatments necessary.
  8. Manage Stress And Anger.” Stress leads to more than just a racing heart. According to Harvard Health, stress can lead to smoking, drinking, or consuming comfort foods that are high in salt and fat. These “outlets” can be dangerous to your heart health, which is why it’s important to manage stress with healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise.

Creating health lifestyle changes through physical activity, diet, and more, women (and men) can reduce their likelihood of developing heart diseases of various forms. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, make an effort to love your heart by taking care of it in this way – and maybe even wear red!

But most importantly, tell friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors how to reduce their risk of heart disease and how to look out for the signs and symptoms. Doing this will help to increase that 54% so it’s on its way to 100.

The Harrisburg Area YMCA provides Personal Training, Diabetes Prevention Classes, and even Nutrition Counseling to help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle. Contact your local Harrisburg Area YMCA branch for more information on our programs and services!

Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator

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Welcome to Our New Board Chair Beth Peiffer!

Beth A. Peiffer Elected Chair of Harrisburg Area YMCA Board

Peiffer will be the first female Board President for the Harrisburg Area YMCA in its 162 year history.

Beth Peiffer Board President Harrisburg Area YMCAHarrisburg, PA 1/31/17 – The Harrisburg Area YMCA Board of Directors recently elected Beth A. Peiffer as the 58th chair in the organization’s 162-year history, and the first female board member to hold the office. A longtime member of the Harrisburg Area YMCA Board, Peiffer has served most recently as the Treasurer for the organization.

The Owner and President of Ralph E. Jones, Inc., Peiffer is also a board member of the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area, the International Facility Management Association, The Keystone Partnership, and has served the Four Diamonds Fund as a Past Advisory Board Member.  She served as past President of the World Forgotten Children’s Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg, and The Junior League of Harrisburg. Currently she is a member of the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, US Green Building Council, Construction Specifications Institute, the Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, West Shore Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Presidents’ Organization, Executive Women International, and The Rotary Club of Harrisburg.   Continue reading