Maryland Knows The Value Of Preschool - The Children's Guild

Free preschool is an invaluable resource most find easy to support. Maryland is leading the way by instituting expanded free pre-K for many families who live in the state. Many other states have also launched free pre-K programs or are in the process of doing so. Through a variety of quality learning experiences in pre-K, kids develop skills, knowledge, and behaviors essential to being successful in school and life.

About Pre-K for Your Kids in Maryland

Maryland offers state-funded pre-K programs for three- and four-year-old children. Pre-K helps all children, but Maryland’s free programs are specifically designated for families who are economically disadvantaged or homeless. Programs offer experiences in language and literacy, math, social foundations, science, social studies, fine arts, physical well-being, and motor development.

Free pre-K for all the state’s three- and four-year-olds in need has been a major focus for Maryland Governor Wes Moore. Requirements in the Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act say that local school systems should enroll all income-eligible three- and four-year-olds whose parents or guardians seek to enroll them. Maryland’s programs are administered through the Prekindergarten Expansion Grant. In 2023, almost 28,000 students were enrolled in free pre-K in Maryland.

Kids Need a Strong Start

Expanding access to preschool and pre-K gives all kids a stronger start. The Children’s Guild knows that any preschool education can substantially increase a child’s chances of thriving in school and life. Programs teach social skills through interactions, mentoring, and direct teaching—and often can shrink racial and economic education gaps in children’s development.

“Early learning programs play a crucial role in laying the foundation for a child’s future success. These programs provide essential cognitive, social, and emotional development opportunities that are fundamental for a child’s overall growth and readiness for formal education. Investing in quality early learning programs not only benefits individual children but also contributes to building a strong foundation for a more prosperous and equitable society.  For many years, this has been an unmanageable expense for families. Now, there are widely available and affordable programs that enhance equity to access and opportunity for all young learners,” says Jenny Livelli, M.Ed., President and CEO, The Children’s Guild.

Parents have access to many preschool programs in Maryland, including two provided by The Children’s Guild in College Park and Annapolis. Last year TCG was proud to educate 170 preschoolers.

“What sets The Children’s Guild preschool programs apart is their unique blend of innovative educational approaches and a nurturing environment. The dedicated and passionate staff genuinely care about each child’s individual growth and development. Their focus on personalized learning ensures that every child’s needs and interests are met, fostering a love for learning from an early age. The integration of project-based activities and hands-on experiences has been particularly beneficial, allowing our children to develop critical thinking skills and a deep appreciation for the world around them,” says Krissie Taylor, Preschool Director, The Children’s Guild.

How Does Pre-K Work?

Some pre-K programs run a half day; some are full day. Many run on the same calendar as your local school system.

Each session can have about 20 kids, with a state-certified early childhood teacher and a full-time assistant. They use Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards and the Maryland EXCELS Quality Rating & Improvement System. If operated by qualified vendors, programs also meet the highest levels of quality and follow a curriculum recommended by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Are You Eligible?

Find out! Maryland cities and counties have different eligibility requirements, rules, and regulations. Kids should be three or four years old by September 1 of the current school year for which they are enrolling. There are other qualifications, too, and you need to be able to document their age. Check with your school district, or see this list of Pre-K programs, sorted by city and county.

After initial enrollment of economically disadvantaged kids, local school systems may fill any remaining vacancies by enrolling kids who exhibit a lack of readiness in foundational skills, knowledge, and behaviors.

Start by registering your child at your neighborhood or local school system’s Board of Education by completing a registration packet. Your local Board of Education will notify you before the start of the school year if your child will be enrolled.

Preschool Through The Children’s Guild

TCG offers two preschools in Maryland. Monarch Academy Annapolis is free for qualified families and Anne Arundel County residents and offers education programs from pre-K three- and four-year-olds through fifth grade. Monarch Preschool College Park offers project-based learning pre-K for children ages 3-5, along with financial aid and paid tuition options.

Application information for Annapolis is here. Application information for College Park is here.

Set Your Kids Up Now for the Future

When analyzing the long-term effects of Maryland’s public pre-K programs, results show a positive effect on the participants’ school performance through elementary and middle school.