Ask the Expert: I Feel My Child's Needs Aren't Being Met at the Community Center's Public Programs. What Can I Do?

Your local community center may be a hub of public programs and activities for your child. But what can you do if you feel the children's programming and activities do not meet your child's needs? The new executive director of the JCC Mid-Westchester and her colleagues offer advice.

Community centers provide a variety of programs for children of all ages. Whether it be gymnastics, art, dance, drama, preschool, social skills or swim. Most public and private programs or classes are supervised by a department head. Parents who feel that their child’s needs are not being met in a particular class or activity should feel comfortable enough to contact the teacher, the teacher’s supervisor, or the department head. 

Girl writing on whiteboardYou can contact them by email, phone, or even better, a personal visit to their office, whichever you prefer. A parent should not let her concerns fester but instead express it clearly to the department head at first notice of an issue. Telling a friend of yours that the child isn’t happy in the class may help you vent as a parent but doesn’t help to improve your child’s experience–or the experience of other children in the community. 

Communication with the department head should be constructive, reasoned, and open. Also having open communication between home and school is key to ensuring a positive feeling for your child in these important formative years.

Children ranging in age from a few months into their teens are probably some of the most frequent participants in these programs. At each stage, a parent should be engaged in their child’s development. No matter the age, a parent should always feel free to ask questions if it will benefit their child.

Karen Kolodny is the executive director of Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the community by providing cultural, social, educational, and reacreational and fitness programs, and Jewish identity-building opportunities to people of all ages.

Kolodny has certificates from New York University in arts administration and business technology. She earned her bachelor's in civil law and common law from McGill University and a master of law from Cambridge University. She lives in NYC with her husband and two teenage daughters.

Kolodny's colleagues Julie Dorfman, Nancy Kaplan, and Penny Randall, who play essential roles in various departments, including the JCC Mid-Westchester's Early Childhood, Special Education and Services, and Family Center, contributed to this article.