Gwinnett schools get big grant for early childhood education

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County Public Schools just locked in a big federal grant that will help support young children before they even start kindergarten.

$770,000 in federal tax dollars will help support “Building Babies’ Brains.”

The idea is to get parents to become their kids’ best teacher before they even start school in “play to learn” classrooms like the one at Lovin Elementary in Lawrenceville.

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It’s a spin-off of the “Building Babies’ Brains” initiative, where every Friday for 90 minutes, certified teachers sit down with parents and their children from birth up to 5 years old working on development skills as they grow into the school system.

Principal Kevin Payne at Lovin said the program has been a hit.

“It gives us an opportunity to work with our families on preparing students for readiness for learning,” he said. “What they are doing is looking at some best practices, to help with cognitive development for students, socialization, motor skills.”

Jared Martin and his 3-year-old daughter Ariana worked on an art project Friday.

He said it’s a way to get her out with other kids her age. It’s something they couldn’t do in the early days of the pandemic.

“They did a thing last week where they planted some seeds and taught them how plants are growing,” Martin said.

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Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux was on site seeing how it all works.

“We know that if we give children those opportunities, then they start school so much stronger and it affects their performance all the way through school,” she said.

Twenty families are enrolled at Lovin. The district said that with the grant money, it will support all elementary schools with similar programs.

It’s something parents said they want to see.

“Anytime there’s programs allowing kids to grow and learn, I think it’s impactful and important,” Martin said.

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Data from 2020 shows 52% of Gwinnett students entered kindergarten unprepared.

The goal is to equip more students with the necessary skills that so they have a head start moving into primary school.

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