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More Baltimore Students Enrolling In Pre-K, Kindergarten

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The number of 4- and 5-year olds in Baltimore schools is up.  They’re the district’s youngest students and as Gigi Barnett explains, school leaders say the sooner they’re in class, the better.

For Baltimore City school leaders, this is the building block of education: pre-K and kindergarten classes.

Now after a four-year thrust to boost pre-K classes in the city, a new report released this week shows the number of 4-year-olds ready to learn in a kindergarten class by the time they turn 5 is up by 18 percent from last school year to this school year.

“We see the kids who come to kindergarten without having pre-K,” said Charlene Iannone-Campbell. “We really see that they’re not ready, as ready as the 4-year-olds who do come to pre-K.”

Iannone-Campbell is the district’s director of early learning. She says the school system wanted to expand its pre-K classes so smaller students can learn as much and as soon as possible.

“Pre-K is the engine that’s driving school reform at this point. It used to be the caboose. Nobody thought about early learning. But now research has shown a lot of the studies coming out that we get them early,” Iannone-Campbell said.

“They’re like little sponges,” said Therese Iwancio, kindergarten teacher. “They just want to absorb everything.”

Iwancio is the lead kindergarten teacher at Belmont Elementary in Northwest Baltimore.

The school has a wait list for its pre-K classes. Iwancio says it’s in part because parents know that early learning is more than just coloring within the lines.

“We know that it starts right here, laying the foundation for their future educational goals,” Iwancio said.

Kindergarten teachers say the best thing for parents to do is enroll their 4-year-olds into pre-K as soon as possible, especially at schools where there is a long waitlist for next school year.

City schools’ pre-K enrollment started on Monday.

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