Georgia PreK Capitol Beat

All 60,000 Georgia preschoolers will be back in the classroom when the 2021-22 term begins later this month.

ATLANTA — All 60,000 Georgia preschoolers will be back in the classroom when the 2021-22 term begins later this month.

During the coronavirus pandemic, pre-K providers were given the option of offering classes in-person, virtually or through a hybrid of live and online instruction. The resulting disruption in routine sent statewide enrollment plummeting from more than 80,000 students.

“Research shows that the early education of children from birth to age 5 is critical to their success in kindergarten and elementary school,” said Amy Jacobs, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, the agency that administers the program.

“We believe laying a solid foundation for academic and social emotional success in our youngest learners is also important for the long-term economic growth of Georgia by helping to build a competent and qualified workforce.”

The first day of pre-school will vary based on the local school system and the child-care provider. It starts as early as July 19 in Taliaferro County and as late as the week of Sept. 6 in Murray and Webster counties.

Most Georgia public school systems begin classes during the first week of August.

The pre-K program offers the following first-day tips for parents sending their children to pre-school:

♦ Send your child to school in clothes they can manage independently in the bathroom.

♦ Make sure your child’s shoes are comfortable for playtime: No flip-flops or tennis shoes with Velcro.

♦ Visit the classroom before school starts, so children are familiar with the new surroundings.

♦ Tell your child’s teacher about any fears she/he may have.

♦ Discuss any special dietary needs or allergies your child may have with the teacher and ask her/him to explain program policies relating to children’s allergies.

♦ Complete necessary forms or releases your pre-K provider may require for dispensing medication during the school day.

♦ Locate the bathroom with your child and determine special bathroom routines the school observes.

♦ Allow extra time for the first day: Make sure you have time to say good-bye.

♦ Ask if your child can bring a familiar blanket for rest time: Can they bring a favorite stuffed animal?

♦ Send a family photo in your child’s backpack in case they get lonely.

Georgia’s lottery-funded pre-K program began in 1992 as a pilot program serving 750 at-risk 4-year-olds at 20 locations. Because of the success of the Georgia Lottery, the program was opened in 1995 to all 4-year-olds regardless of family income.

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