February has arrived, and it is time to start thinking about your child’s schooling for next year. If you have a child who turns 4 before September 1, and live in the state of Florida, you have a unique opportunity. Florida’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten or VPK program is available for free to all children in this age group. Here are some of the great benefits of this program.

Developmentally Appropriate

With so much of education today being focused on Common Core Standards, and the constant push for better test scores, VPK is a great opportunity for children to have a year of educational programming geared toward fostering a love of learning. Developmentally appropriate programs such as VPK understand that a child learns about his or her world through play. Concepts are taught in a fun and engaging manner, and children are given the chance to just be little for a bit longer.

Freedom of Choice

Another really great feature of the VPK program is that you have several options when it comes to enrolling your child in this free program. The program is not strictly based in the public school system. There are many private schools and daycare centers that are VPK providers as well. You are also able to choose from a school-year VPK program or a summer one, depending on the needs of your family.

Kindergarten Readiness

In today’s classrooms, it is more important than ever that every child enters Kindergarten ready to learn. Basic skills such as learning the alphabet, counting, and self-regulation are becoming more of a prerequisite rather than things that are taught in the Kindergarten classroom. VPK programs increase your child’s chances for success in the classroom by providing a safe and developmentally appropriate environment for him or her to learn these skills before entering Kindergarten. 

VPK for Everyone

As a parent in Florida, you have a chance to provide your child with a quality pre-kindergarten education no matter what your family’s financial situation looks like. In many other states, free Pre-K is only provided to low income families or children with special needs, making it difficult for middle-income families to afford these services. In contrast, the VPK program is available to all families, no matter what their financial or educational situation is.

VPK is a great opportunity for the young children in your family, and now is the time to start thinking about the upcoming school year. Contact the Florida Office of Early Learning for application deadlines and available programs in your county today. You may also want to get in contact with a All Superstars Preschool or a similar institution in your area.