The state of Minnesota continues to expand their commitment to supporting early education throughout the state, and Brainerd Public Schools is benefiting from that support!

Brainerd Public School District was selected to receive 38 voluntary pre-kindergarten spots at our Washington preschool site. We are thrilled to provide this opportunity to families as we continue to knock down barriers that prevent them from being able to attend.

Priority registration will go to families within the Riverside and Harrison Elementary attendance boundaries and will include free breakfast, tuition, and transportation to those who need it. Since this was announced, in the beginning of August, we have been able to enroll students from our waiting list, and we still have a few VPK openings.

VPK is just one of many scholarship opportunities offered and we currently have four-year-old openings across several of our program sites. Program opportunities are spread across four sites within the Brainerd School District: The Brainerd Learning Center, Washington Educational Services Building, Baxter Elementary, and Nisswa Elementary.

State funding continues to increase for our programming because of the work we are doing to provide the highest quality experience for families. Our licensed teachers provide play-based learning focused on those foundational skills that prepare students for kindergarten and beyond. Focusing on early academic skills with a primary focus around social emotional development helps young children develop the confidence to engage and develop important relationships with their peers and adults at school. Students coming into Kindergarten with a strong foundation in social emotional development are more prepared to learn and experience academic growth in those early elementary years.

Investing in our youngest learners has a huge payoff over time for the Brainerd community, and we want all children to experience learning within an early childhood classroom setting prior to Kindergarten.

To learn more about our Early Childhood programming options and scholarships available, please call our main Early Childhood Office at 218-454-5430.

Tahnee Flowers is the assistant director of community education.