Summer’s almost here, but mom’s work never ends! For you supermoms who are taking care of 3 and 4-year-old toddlers, you may want to consider VPK. In an earlier article, we explained what VPK is, and what the process is to get your kids signed up, specific to the southwest Florida area. Today, we’ll tackle a hard question.
“Now that I know what VPK is, how do I select the one best fit for my child?”
We visited Milestones Learning Center in Estero, FL, a local VPK institution. The owner helped give us some great tips on what to look for when picking a VPK program that best fits your child.
VPK or Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten is a free program that prepares four years old for Kindergarten. When selecting a program, we suggest choosing one that best suits your family’s needs and your child’s learning style.
Currently, there are three different program types.
All programs align with the Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards for Four‐Year‐Olds (2011) that describe what a 4‐year‐old should know and be able to do by the end of their prekindergarten year.
This program runs for 540 hours. The typical classroom can contain up to 20 little ones, and instructors must hold a Birth through Five Florida Child Care Professional Credential and complete specialized training on early literacy and performance standards.
Summer VPK programs are for the moms who want to continue to engage their kids during the summer months. It runs for 300 hours, which is less than a full semester. However, the class sizes are smaller. The educators must have a bachelor’s degree, and a classroom in this program can contain up to 12 students, which means there is more ‘one-on-one’ time available.
Specialized Instructional Services
These VPK programs cater to children with disabilities to work to meet your family’s needs. There is not a select hour duration, so you may need to do a little digging since hours vary by location. The plus is, the instructors tailor their lesson plans for children that do have disabilities, so their transition from VPK to Kindergarten is as smooth as possible. Therefore the program won’t exactly mirror the school-year and summer programs.
The Bottom Line
Whether you choose to place your child in a private child care center, public or charter school VPK program, we are sure there’s something that will meet your needs. All VPK programs are structured using the Florida Standards for 4-Year-Olds, developed by Florida’s Department of Education.
Find a center that fits the atmosphere that you are trying to create for your child. Don’t be afraid to talk to educators and staff! Just a simple conversation can provide great insight on how they prefer to teach your child. Make sure you feel 100% content with your decision and are confident your child is in a safe environment.
Let us know what particular traits you’re looking for when you are choosing a VPK for your small ones, and see what we found when we visited a local SWFL VPK center!