Downtown YMCA Preschool: Play, Learn, and Grow Together

If you’re a parent, you’re likely starting to think ahead to back to school. Savoring the last few weeks of Summer, but reminded when you walk into Walmart, Target and other retail stores that it’s almost time to head back.

At the Downtown Family YMCA, we’re thinking ahead too. Unless you frequently attend the Downtown YMCA, you may not have known we have a preschool. What makes ours unique? Keep reading.

Healthy Living
Healthy living isn’t just a focus we “preach” without follow through. We practice it in all programs and facets of the Y, from young to old. In this case, even with our tiny tots! Where else can your child get swim lessons and pool time while at preschool? Our preschool children learn valuable swim skills from certified instructors.

But we take healthy living a step further and offer FREE household memberships to all preschool enrolled families. At the Y, we want the family unit to fully utilize our facility.

“Many families utilize our wellness programs with confidence, knowing that their children are happy and healthy in our care,” says Emily Cornelius, Downtown YMCA Preschool Director.

Healthy Foods
Partnerships with the Child and Adult Care Food Program, along with United Way hold our program accountable for children’s health and development. Therefore, we serve fresh produce and even offer one vegetarian lunch per week, while still meeting guidelines outlined by the USDA.

A Focus on Christian Principles and Curriculum Excellence
Our teachers conduct quarterly assessments on the children in their classes to learn more about their growth in our program. Curriculum is adjusted based on the results of evaluations to ensure social-emotional, physical, cognitive, and language development for all children.

“The YMCA Child Development Center is unlike any other program I have experienced,” says Cornelius. “I am proud to be leading a team of passionate teachers. The educators in our school genuinely care about the well-being and intellectual development of each child. Incorporating Christianity into our curriculum while also learning about various customs and cultures, ensures that children respect their beliefs and become accepting of others.”

“We are thrilled with the YMCA preschool program,” says Libby Clark, who’s two children are currently enrolled in the Y preschool. “It’s one of the most affordable choices in Chattanooga.

“It matches our family’s values because it places heavy emphasis on healthy eating, movement, social skills, and creative play,” says Clark. “Perhaps most importantly, the teachers and staff have acted as incredible partners with us during our adoption process. Not only have they truly cared for our girls, but they have supported us as new parents and a new family as well. We are so thankful to be a part of this wonderful school.”

Location, Location, Location
Located in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, we’re one of the few preschools/child care facilities in the downtown area, making the Y a great choice for working parents.

For more information on registering your child at the Downtown YMCA Preschool, contact Emily Cornelius at

Contributing authors: Emily Cornelius, preschool director & Libby Clark, preschool parent.