Updated: Mar 17, 2019
The people who are the parents of small children today grew up in a time when formal education started at 5 years old. Kindergarten still begins at 5 years old, but many Florida parents now have access to high-quality voluntary
(VPK). However, many parents don't take advantage of VPK since they don't understand it's value. They reason that if they didn't need to start school until they were 5, why make their kids start early. However, the push for VPK isn't without good reason. The extra year can have a significant impact on future success, which is why VPK is essential for your child's development.
The VPK program in Florida began in August 2005. The program offers tuition reimbursement so parents can send their kids to VPK programs. VPK programs are not fancy day centers. These programs have teachers who can help young children prepare for kindergarten and their future academic careers, in general.
The benefits of VPK programs are backed up by evidence. The Florida Office of Early Learning stated that in 2011-12 "79 percent of children who finished VPK were ready for kindergarten," while "55% of children who didn't go to VPK were kindergarten ready."
Introducing children to academic expectations and developing positive attitudes toward education benefits these future students in innumerable ways. Unlike daycares, which focus on play and distractions, VPK programs have high-quality early learning activities that mold your child into an eager learner with a positive attitude. VPKs have the benefit of using a play-based structure which helps kids learn about the academic expectations there will be in school without the pressure that comes from being assigned grades.
Easing kids into the learning environment with VPK programs reduces the culture shock many kindergartners have when they first start school. In the structured, but fun, learning environment of VPK, children learn to increase their attention spans and to follow directions. As was mentioned early, the research shows that kids who go to a VPK have a headstart when they start primary school.
Besides getting children used the idea of school, VPK also helps kids get a headstart on the skills they will need to succeed in school. Students who attend a VPK will know some of the skills that they will be taught in kindergartens, such as counting, the alphabet, and sight words. Additionally, literacy and language skills are a large part of VPK standards. Promoting these skills helps a child develop better social skills before entering kindergarten and builds a strong foundation for the future. For an only child who hasn't spent much time with large groups of kids, VPK is the perfect opportunity to acclimate them to change in the environment before they start kindergarten.
One year of VPK can make a significant impact on your child’s educational outlook, even before they start their first day of school. However, not all VPK programs are created equal. When choosing a program for your child, find a VPK that has a reputation for helping children be well prepared for school. Find out why so many parents have trusted Dream Big School with helping their kids with VPK.
If you want to enroll your child at Dream Big School, use the contact form for more information or call us at 407-602-1313 to schedule a visit.