ABCs of YMCA School Programs

Starting kindergarten is a big step for you and your child. At the Y, we want to make sure you start on the right foot.

Alexander Family YMCA Associate Executive Branch Director Kim Moser offers this advice, “Take a deep breath. Relax. You can do it.”

And, Kim's talking to parents, not kids!

“The way to get children ready for kindergarten is to get parents ready for kindergarten,” says Kim.

We know that the start of a new school year can be stressful no matter your child's age. In the coming weeks, you’ll be gathering paperwork, making big decisions and learning a new language. The YMCA offers programs that work with your school calendar, whether you live in Wake County, Durham, Johnston or Lee counties.

Here’s the YMCA primer for school programs.

After School

YMCA After School starts at school dismissal and ends at 6 p.m. Early release days are included at no additional cost.


This might be one of the most important terms in the Y vocabulary. At the Y, our counselors are great role models, not babysitters. Our caring counselors do everything from jumping rope to singing songs to playing freeze tag on the playground. They also lend a helping hand with homework or quiet time. Our YMCA staff members receive 30 hours of training.

Early Arrivals

This is the YMCA’s before school care. We start at 7 a.m. Children are dismissed to their classroom at the first bell.

Happy, Wholesome Environment

YMCA youth programs are fueled by fun!


We group children together in small groups or huddles based on age and grade. In other words, your kindergartner will be with children their own age. Each huddle has one or two counselors to provide close supervision.


Keeping your child safe is our top priority. That’s why we maintain a 1:12 staff-to-child ratio, with a senior staff member always on-site and in charge. And while we pride ourselves on getting to know each child and each parent personally, we have check-out procedures to ensure that only the people you authorize are allowed to pick up your child.

School Transition

If the YMCA after school program is at your child’s school, a Y counselor will walk with your child from his or her classroom to the YMCA program area.

School's Out Special or S.O.S. Days

This is what we call teacher workdays at the Y. These are full days of activities for children in grades K-8.


If your YMCA After School program is held at the YMCA, your kindergartner will ride a YMCA bus to your branch. Our buses are safe, colorful and full of fun. A YMCA counselor, or two, rides on the bus in addition to the licensed bus driver. The counselors on board also lead songs or simple games. It’s not unusual for our buses to arrive with all the children singing. At the end of the day, just pick up your child at the YMCA.

Tracking Out

Tracking Out (or Intersession) is the YMCA's year-round school program. It's action-packed fun for elementary and middle school students while they're on break. Our full-day programs are from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Durham).

Find the YMCA that may serve your elementary or middle school.