BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Classes for Maryland’s youngest students begin this week.

As Gigi Barnett reports, a multi-million dollar grant makes it possible for lawmakers to continue their quest to make pre-K universal.

Looks like child’s play but it may be excitement as this is the first day of school for pre-K students at Hernwood Elementary in Baltimore County.

There is the school’s second pre-K class, thanks to a multi-million dollar grant to expand the program statewide. Now their classroom is filled with learning.

“It was really rather sad. The room was dark, no activity,” said Sue Capron, a pre-K teacher.

Back in July, lawmakers earmarked a little more than $4 million dollars from expanded gaming for the added pre-K classes. Now nearly 1,600 students will be able to go to pre-K this year.

Lt. Governor Anthony Brown stopped by Hernwood to check on the new classes. Right now, most of the classes are only half-day. He wants full-day pre-k for all students by 2022.

“She’s excited about the bookbag,” said Tay Boone.

For parents like Boone, the difference between pre-K and daycare is striking in both learning and social skills.

“She talks more and she learns letters,” Boone said.

Thousands of four-year-olds statewide are eligible for pre-K and there aren’t enough classes. For instance, about 1,000 children in Baltimore County alone can attend pre-K but are not enrolled.

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