The New Canaan YMCA partnered in the fall with Young Homeschoolers of Fairfield County to introduce a new program to provide physical activity and social interaction to home-schooled students.

Nineteen children in preschool through first grade meet every week for a gym class and a hands-on lesson. The goal is to help provide home-schooled children with organized physical activity, as well as the opportunity to socialize.

The children and their mothers meet every Tuesday for four hours at the Y. Participants begin their day in gym class, where they engage in different physical activities, such as soccer, floor hockey, tag and relay races. Afterwards, a hands-on lesson is taught in one of the Y's classrooms, where each week a different mother teaches a lesson. Parents stay throughout the program, giving them the chance to socialize about lesson plans, share ideas and enjoy a free hour while the kids are in gym class.

"Exercise is a vital part of youth development and helps children develop intellectually, emotionally, socially," said Davie Cedela, youth and family director at the YMCA, "and of course physically, which is why we are excited to help provide an organized gym class for this group."

She said, "It's great to watch the children and parents interact with each other, as well."

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Xela, a 4-year-old participant, said, "Our school day is fun because I get to do gym with my coaches, learn with my friends and they have great slides outside for us to slide on."

Josette, a parent of one of the participants, said, "Our collaboration with the New Canaan YMCA gives our home-schooled children the best of both worlds: They not only get the one-on-one teaching and child-specific curriculum at home, but they also get the classroom and peer group experience of traditional schooling at the Y. They are a lucky lot of home-schoolers, indeed."

The Y hopes to expand the program to older home-schoolers, using resources at the Y available to older children, as well as home-schoolers in the community, providing a cost-effective option for the families to engage in physical and enriching activity within a social setting.

For information, call Cedela at 203-966-4528, ext. 141.