Young children are often curious about the world around them. They use their senses to explore their environment and love to test new ideas. Preschool-aged children may have endless energy and questions. They may seem eager to test new ideas and make incredible connections that can surprise parents and caregivers.
Research shows that children’s brains grow and develop more in their first five years than at any other time during their lives. In the past, people considered kindergarten to be a child’s first educational experience. Preschool was simply a way for young children to meet other kids and play.
However, early education has changed a lot in recent decades. Many education experts agree that high-quality preschool programs can help children succeed in kindergarten and throughout elementary school.
Florida created the voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK) program to give all families access to high-quality preschool programs. This article will explore how a VPK can prepare children for kindergarten success and provide tips for a smooth transition from VPK to kindergarten.
Reach out to the Little Sunshine Preschool team to learn how our VPK can help your child succeed in school. Call now with questions or to schedule a tour.
What is a Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK)?
Florida’s VPK program ensures that all 4-year-olds can attend a high-quality pre-kindergarten program the year before kindergarten. Most families are eligible for free VPK programs if they have a four-year-old child and live in the state. Florida’s VPK programs are accessible to all, regardless of income.
The VPK curriculum gets children ready for school by focusing on literacy, math, and social skills. The program’s goal is that children will be prepared to start kindergarten and be more successful throughout elementary school.
Voluntary pre-kindergarten programs are available during the typical school year and in the summer. The school year program consists of 540 educational hours. The summer program provides 300 instructional hours.
5 Tips For a Smooth Transition to Kindergarten
Children who participate in a VPK program are usually more prepared to enter kindergarten than those who do not. However, transitioning to kindergarten can come with mixed emotions, even for children who have attended VPK.
Here are five tips for a smooth transition from VPK to kindergarten.
1. Talk about it
Talking to your child about the transition into kindergarten may help them feel more comfortable. Change can be challenging for young children. Knowing what to expect may help them. Talk about what they will do in kindergarten.
Explain what will happen during drop-off and pick-up. Discuss the daily schedule if you have it available. Don’t overload your child with information. Give them basic details about what to expect and try to answer their questions as they come up.
2. Visit the school
Spending time in the school building may help relieve anxiety or uncertainty. Many school districts provide opportunities for new families to visit before school starts.
Attend an open house, informational night, or any other school activities. Meet with the kindergarten teachers and explore your child’s kindergarten classroom.
3. Get into a new routine
Starting kindergarten typically means getting into a new routine. Children may have to get up earlier to get on a school bus. They may need to attend after-school care or adjust to a longer school day.
Before school begins, explore your public school district’s website to find out your child’s new schedule. The week before school starts, practice your new routine to help your child get ready for kindergarten.
Have your child wake up and get ready around the time you’ll need to get prepared once school begins. Adjust their bedtime to ensure they can get enough sleep.
Getting into a new routine ahead of time can help children have a smoother transition into the school year.
4. Start a new tradition
The start of kindergarten can be stressful and exciting for children and families. Consider starting a new tradition to mark this important milestone. It does not have to be expensive, time-consuming, or even that momentous. Your tradition might include:
- Taking your child’s picture on the first day of school
- Enjoying a special breakfast or dinner on their first day
- Making up a “family handshake” to do at drop-off and pick-up
Finding a way to celebrate this transition can let your child know this is something they should celebrate.
5. Be confident
Watching your child approach this critical milestone may bring up a mixture of feelings. You may feel proud of their growth, sad about the end of this stage of life, or anything in between.
Being confident and positive about your child’s transition into kindergarten is important. You do not have to be overly cheerful or ignore their anxiety. Simply reassure your child you know they are ready for kindergarten, they will have help at school, and you believe they are capable of taking this big step.
Find a VPK in New Port Richey today
If you are the parent or guardian of a 4-year-old and you’re looking for a wonderful VPK, contact the team at Little Sunshine Preschool now. Our dedicated team of teachers will answer your questions or help you schedule a tour of our outstanding school.