Meet The Team: Caitlin Barclay
Multi-faceted programming has, for years, been a staple point of the Town of Manchester’s Department of Leisure, Family & Recreation (LFR). Whether through recreation offerings, which range from team sports to dance classes to even martial arts lessons, or programs such as Boys II Men and Girls Circle, which prepare teens for their transition to young adulthood, LFR programming has always balanced engagement & the learning of lifelong skills.
One division where this programming balance of education and engagement is of the utmost importance is the Youth Service Bureau, which offers programming targeting participants from early childhood and the way through young adulthood. In order to boost the range of early childhood offerings and better meet the demands of the ever-evolving Manchester community, the Youth Service Bureau has hired educator Caitlin Barclay as an Early Childhood Facilitator.
Barclay, an Early Childhood teacher for parent-child classes, previously taught kindergarten for seven years. A mother of two, Barclay’s program offerings aim to not only educate, but to also set the foundation for lifelong social skills, ones that countless learners have struggled with in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I designed each session to appeal to toddlers and parents alike. I keep in mind that parents are eager for their children to socialize with other children, as well as gain new & developmentally-appropriate skills that help them to learn and enjoy doing so,” Barclay said.
Eagerness often goes hand-in-hand with worries and doubts, especially for first-time parents who may be unfamiliar with in-person opportunities offered for young children. These fears, which have existed well before the COVID pandemic, have only been heightened in the past few years. However, all Youth Service Bureau programs prioritize student safety & health, especially for early childhood participants whose health might be easily compromised.
“As far as safety, we keep the center very clean with regular maintenance, as well as extra cleaning after heavy use of any materials,” Barclay said. “Masks are always welcome & the students love to be greeted with a hello and our sanitizing bubbles for clean hands.”
In addition to the prioritization of participant safety, another goal of Barclay’s classes is to meet each child where they are at in their own educational journey, Barclay said. Engagement is a crucial component of early childhood education, and meeting students at their own level & pace helps to ensure a successful, long-lasting relationship between student and educator.
“Children learn at their own pace and we as educators meet them there,” Barclay said. “We work on skills as simple as making eye contact when we greet another, as well as more challenging skills like answering ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’ questions. Our goal is to keep the students safe and engaged in their learning.”
Barclay, alongside the rest of the Youth Service Bureau’s robust Early Childhood team, has an exciting slate of upcoming winter/spring programs, including but not limited to:
Play & Learn Nursery Rhymes
A parent-child class where we learn common nursery rhymes with songs, pretend play, sensory play & crafts! Includes free play, circle time, crafts and vocabulary rich conversations. We will be learning through simple and engaging activities that are interactive and developmentally appropriate. Caregivers should be prepared to participate with their little learner!
- Location: NWP Early Childhood Center
- Ages: 12 months – 23 months
- Meets: M, 01/09/23-03/13/23, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM
- Fee: $48 / $56 (nr)
Play & Learn To Count & Craft With Arctic Animals
A parent-child class where we practice counting while learning about arctic animals through reading alouds and crafts! This class will also include circle time, songs, some free play and vocabulary rich conversations. We will be learning through simple and engaging activities that are interactive and developmentally appropriate. Caregivers should be prepared to participate with their little learner!
- Location: NWP Early Childhood Center
- Ages: 24 months – 35 months
- Session 1: T, 01/10/23-02/14/23, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM
- Session 2: T, 02/28/23-04/04/23, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM
- Fee: $36 / $44 (nr)
Whether you are a long-time Youth Service Bureau participant or a first-time parent, Caitlin Barclay’s slate of early childhood programs are the perfect opportunity for low-cost programs that prioritize education, safety & authentic youth engagement.
For the complete slate of Early Childhood programs, please visit the Better Manchester Winter/Spring Program & Event Guide or check out the Youth Service Bureau’s Facebook page.