For a long time, many people considered kindergarten to be a child’s first educational experience and the first step of a long journey of formal schooling. However, in recent decades, research has shown that children experience massive growth and development during the first five years of life–before kindergarten even begins. In fact, children’s brains grow faster and make more connections during this essential life stage than at any other time.
It’s essential to give children as many learning opportunities and experiences as possible during the first few years of their lives so that they’ll have the best chance at success in school and beyond.
Voluntary pre-kindergarten programs (VPK) can help children in Florida gain the essential skills they’ll need before beginning kindergarten. This article will explore Florida’s VPK program, what children learn in VPK, and how to find the right VPK in New Port Richey.
Reach out to the team at Little Sunshine Preschool now to learn about our outstanding VPK programs or to schedule a tour of our center.
What is VPK?
Voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) programs are available to all four-year-olds living in Florida at no cost. The primary goal of a VPK is to prepare children to be successful in kindergarten. The VPK curriculum consists of developmentally appropriate literacy, social skills, math, science, and art education. Many VPK programs in New Port Richey provide interactive, play-based learning to keep young children engaged in what they’re learning. Studies show that children learn best through hands-on learning, and VPK programs offer many of these activities each day.
Research shows that children in high-quality preschool and VPK programs are better prepared for school and may transition more easily into a classroom setting. But VPK programs are not all business–children have a lot of fun, make friends, and play while learning.
How to Choose the Right VPK in New Port Richey
As a parent or caregiver, you always want what’s best for your child. Choosing a VPK program is an important decision that can impact your child’s growth and development.
Knowing your child is in a safe, nurturing environment that offers high-quality education can help you feel confident about your choice. Choosing the right VPK in New Port Richey doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you find the right fit for you and your child.
1. Learn about the school.
Before scheduling a visit to a school, do a little research about its programs, schedule, and educational philosophy. You can likely find information about the program’s curriculum on the school’s website, as well as other crucial information about what to expect from a VPK program.
Here are some other things you may want to explore before visiting:
- Is the program licensed and accredited?
- What level of education and training does the staff have?
- What is the center’s staff-to-child ratio?
- How do educators manage discipline?
- What is a typical day in VPK like?
- How do educators develop their curriculum?
A high-quality VPK program offers a structured curriculum in a safe, welcoming environment that supports all children’s needs. Make sure you get the answers you need to make the right choice for your child.
2. Visit the school.
When looking for a place where your child will learn and grow, visiting in person is important. Websites and parent reviews can give you one perspective, but nothing compares to spending time in the school.
Call to schedule a visit. If you can, visit during the morning hours when the day’s activities will be in full swing. Observe how educators and other staff interact with the children. Do the kids seem happy and comfortable communicating with the adults in charge? Are children engaged in activities?
Pay attention to the facility itself. Do children have enough room to play and move around freely? Are there developmentally appropriate toys, books, and other materials available?
Use your visit to interact with staff members and ask questions about their educational approach, schedules, and anything else on your mind.
3. Bring your child.
When you visit a VPK program, bring your child if you can. High-quality VPK programs and preschools can give your children the skills and confidence they’ll need to thrive in kindergarten and beyond. However, it’s important to know they’ll be happy and loved at school, too.
Children must develop good relationships with their early childhood educators. Let your children explore the school and interact with the staff. Observe how educators interact with your child and whether your child feels comfortable in the space.
Remember that young children may feel anxious in new situations, and many need adequate time to warm up to a new place or people. However, visiting the school can help your child feel more comfortable and confident when they begin a VPK program.
Find a VPK in New Port Richey
If you are the parent or caregiver of a four-year-old in Florida, reach out to the team at Little Sunshine Preschool to learn about our incredible VPK programs. We’d love to welcome your child into our school. Contact us now with questions or to schedule a visit.