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Grand Rapids Public Schools starting new pre-K prep program

The Grand Rapids Public Schools is teaming up with First Steps and Great Start Collaborative to launch what they are calling  "Early Learning Communities". 

  Early Learning Communities are focused on enriching the early learning experiences of young children by strengthening the skills of early childhood caregivers and educators.  The program is intended to improve readiness for school success by:

·         Positively impacting the learning development and social skills of young children.

·         Increasing children’s access to literacy activities.

·         Increasing access to community resources for children and caregivers.

·         Building the relationship between children & families and their neighborhood school prior to kindergarten. 

Early Learning Communities are centered in the neighborhoods around Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Academy and Burton School.  The program provides professional development, training, and support services to educators and caregivers, including certified teachers in Pre-K through 3rdgrade, teachers in Head Start, private preschools and child care centers, in-home child care providers, and parents. 

In-home caregivers and parents have the opportunity to attend Play & Learn Groups with literacy-based activities for children.  The curriculum for the Play & Learn Groups is aligned with Michigan Department of Education expectations for kindergarten readiness. 

Additionally, coaches work one-on-one with in-home caregivers, helping them to strengthen their interactions with children, improve the home environment, and create activities to help prepare children for kindergarten.   

The program is being funded by grants from the Early Childhood Investment Corporation and PNC Grow Up Great.


Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.