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Florida's Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, or VPK, is a FREE educational program for four and five year olds who reside in Florida. Participating children must be 4 years of age on or before September 1st. Parents can enroll their child in the state’s free, voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) education program that year or wait until the following year when their child is 5. The following information is from the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade County.
BENEFITS OF EARLY EDUCATION AND THE VPK PROGRAM
The early years are the learning years. A child’s ability to be attentive and to follow directions emerges in the early years. Structured early learning fosters these abilities for later success in school and in life.
Pre-K prepares children to be ready for school. Children who participate in high-quality early childhood education programs develop better language skills, score higher in school-readiness tests and have better social skills and fewer behavioral problems once they enter school. They are also better prepared for Kindergarten, especially in the areas of pre-reading, pre-math and social skills.
Pre-K enhances what a child learns at home and instills a love of life-long learning.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE VPK PROGRAM
Parents have the option of choosing the provider (private and faith-based child care centers or private or public school) that meets their own family’s needs.
Curriculum focuses on reading, writing, language, and social skills, and prepares children for Kindergarten.
All VPK providers must meet high standards required by law.
There are two VPK program options. Option 1: school-year VPK - 540 instructional hours
There are two VPK program options. Option 2: summer VPK - 300 instructional hours
Class size does not exceed 20 children in the school-year program, and does not exceed 12 children for the summer program.
All VPK instructors have a minimum of a child development associate for the school-year program, or a bachelor’s degree in early childhood or related fields for the summer program.
VPK legislation was signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush on January 2, 2005. This law
created a program to prepare every Florida four-year-old for Kindergarten and to build
a strong foundation for their continued educational success.
The VPK program will better prepare Florida’s young children for a successful Kindergarten
experience by focusing the Department of Education’s efforts on early literacy. This legislation
assigns responsibilities for the day-to-day management of the program to the Office of Early Learning;
licensing and credentialing to the Department of Children and Families; and the creation of standards,
curriculum, and accountability to the Department of Education. All three agencies are working
together to provide leadership and support to the local early learning coalitions, school districts,
and public and private providers to ensure the successful implementation of effective
prekindergarten education programs for Florida’s four-year-old children.
For more information on the VPK program, please click here to visit the Office of Early Learning.