How Does VPK Work in Florida: A Closer Look

how does vpk work in florida
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You might have heard of the Voluntary Prekindergarten program, especially if you have small children. But how much do you know about it? What are the benefits involved in the initiative and who does it serve? Keep reading to unravel how VPK works in Florida.

Putting it simply: every boy and girl in the state who is 4 or 5 years old is entitled to free Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) at the school or child care facility of their choice.

The purpose of VPK is to give every child in Florida the learning skills they need to succeed in school for the rest of their academic career.

The foundational skills children learn in VPK will help them continue to learn better as they make their way through grade school, high school and college. By providing a solid foundation for learning, children also are more likely to be successful in their adult careers.

Keep reading to dive a little deeper on what the program offers and what it brings to children enrolled.

What is VPK

Florida’s Voluntary Free Prekindergarten program is an innovative effort by the state to give its children a step forward in their education before they enroll in traditional kindergarten and elementary school.

This is a program designed to help children prepare for kindergarten. As you can imagine, enrollment is voluntary, and parents can choose either public or private school providers.

Although VPK is free and there’s not even a registration fee, the program is not necessarily designed for families with low income. Its purpose is to help level children cognitive and social skills regardless of their social condition, making them prepared to excel in school.

Children who participate in a top-quality VPK program — like the one offered for free at The Amazing Explorers Academy — can develop improved language skills, score higher on school readiness tests, and have better social skills and fewer behavioral problems once they start elementary school.

What Children Learn While Attending VPK

The main topics addressed during the program have focus on early literacy and math skills – all accordingly age appropriate for the 4 and 5 years old students.

Although these are the basic skills, there’s so much more going on during VPK. This is also the time when children are interacting with one another, developing social skills while bonding with each other and the instructors, nurturing and growing their emotional literacy.

When choosing the provider for VPK, parents are advised to ask about the curriculum and planned activities at that institution.

How Children Benefit From VPK

According to the Florida Department of Education, VPK attendees generally demonstrate greater kindergarten readiness in contrast to those who aren’t part of the program. In simple terms, this means that children have better chances to be prepared for their school years and stand out as they progress in school and their academic life.

The state of Florida runs annually an assessment to verify the effectiveness of teacher-child interactions within the classroom. Known as Classroom Scoring System (CLASS), this tool classifies how effectively teachers and students interact in the classroom, considering the following areas: Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support.

As a result, it’s expected that children have a much more positive learning experience, with enhanced results in their social and cognitive development.

How Does VPK Work in Florida?

The Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program has existed in Florida since 2005. Since then, more than 2 million children have participated in the platform.

Check out more information about VPK in Florida:

  • If the child’s 4th birthday falls between September 2 and February 1, parents can wait to enroll them when the child reaches 5 years old.
  • Children can not attend VPK for two years in a row.
  • The age limit for VPK is 5 because the state of Florida requires children to attend school when they are 6 years old by February 1.

Who is Eligible for VPK?

There are a few conditions to meet before enrolling children on any VPK program, but they’re all easily complied!

  • Children have to be 4 years old on or before September 1 of the current school year.
  • Children with disabilities can also enroll and join in the Specialized Instructional Services (SIS);
  • Families who are experiencing homelessness due to natural disasters (i.e. hurricanes);
  • Even if the family lives temporarily in Florida, children that meet the mandatory age requirements can participate on VPK.

Easy peasy, right? You can register at the Florida’s Early Learning Family Portal and follow the instructions so you can take the first steps into enrolling your child for VPK.

Programs In VPK

Parents can choose between 3 different programs designed for VPK attendees. It’s important to note that all instructors are required to have the minimum Florida Child Care Professional Credentials.

The first program is during the regular school year. This option features 540 hours of instructional time and generally begins in August.

The second option is the Summer program. This consists of 300 instructional hours and can begin as early as May.

While the Fall program is nearly twice as long as the Summer program, parents need to consider which program works best with their schedules.

In the school-year program, the class size will be limited to a maximum of 20 children, while in the summer program, the maximum class size will be 12 children.

School-Year Program – 540 Instructional Hours

Amazing Explorers school year program, which offers 540 instructional hours and features class sizes that cannot exceed 11 students with a single lead instructor, or 20 students where there is a lead instructor and an assistant.

Summer Program – 300 Instructional Hours

Amazing Explorers VPK Summer program, which offers 300 instructional hours. Class sizes cannot exceed 12 students with one instructor and teachers are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree.

VPK Specialized Instructional Services (SIS)

VPK specialized instructional services educational program, which takes place outside the traditional classroom setting and is designed for 4-year-olds with special needs who have current individualized educational plans from their local school districts.

How To Choose A VPK Provider

By now, we hope you’re excited to find the best VPK program to enroll your Little One!

In order to choose the best facility to enroll your child and help them make the best of the VPK experience, here’s a few things you, as a parent, should consider.

Consider Your Routine

You’re entitled to choose the provider that best suits your family and your specific needs. This means that factors such as distance from your family home and working hours of the facility should be looked into.

Examine Your Priorities

Keep in mind that, if a facility is acknowledged as a VPK provider, the place must meet high standards required by law. So, as part of your options, consider private and faith-based child care centers, private and public schools and licensed family child care homes.

VPK at Amazing Explorers

When parents choose The Amazing Explorers Academy they are maximizing their benefit by giving their children a top-quality educational experience that can help them succeed even more in later life.

That’s because the Amazing Explorers utilizes a STEAM-based curriculum — which means it is focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics — the framework for the kind of technical skills essential for future success.

As we’re a part of America’s children’s educational journey, Amazing Explorers Academy proudly offers VPK in all our 10+ units in Florida!

Here’s a little of our curricula.

Commitment To High Quality Education

VPK provides educational activities, learning materials, and qualified instructors in order to help create an engaging learning experience for the students. 

Additionally, it follows the Department of Education’s Early Learning Coalition Guidelines, meaning that professional teachers are given specific instructional support to meet each individual child’s needs.

Comprehensive Learning

VPK includes pre-academic instruction, which focuses on specific skills to foster age-appropriate development in areas such as math, science and language arts.

In addition, VPK also offers a range of academic activities, physical activity, social and emotional learning opportunities, transition services and field trips. VPK students can also access high-quality family engagement activities to help them develop important school readiness skills.

Passion For Learning

Most importantly, the free VPK program at Amazing Explorers helps promote a lifelong love of learning in children. The curriculum enhances the values your child is already learning at home and instills a passion for creative thinking and innovation.

We hope that this comprehensive guide has taught you importante information about what top-quality VPK programs mean: it can help children to develop better language skills, score higher on standardized tests, and improve their social skills.

Do you still have any questions on how VPK works in Florida? We have a whole team eager to help! Discover our Florida units and book a tour to have an upclose on your child’s next VPK program! 

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