In Florida they offer, Voluntary Prekindergarten or (VPK) for free. It’s an amazing program that many schools offer to better ready children for kindergarten and you don’t have to pay! Sound amazing? Yup, and school registrations are beginning. If you have toddlers that you are looking to register for next fall in a 1-year old, 2-year old, or 3-year old program the time is also NOW!
Haven’t heard of VPK? Here’s the link to the state website:
Although there are free VPK programs offered in every county, not every preschool offers free VPK so make sure to ask.
There are many options when picking a preschool and if you haven’t gone through the process before you may not even know where to start. When my son was 18 months I was already stressing myself out about where I would send him to school when he turned 2. With my daughter I chose to do a home school co-op until she entered VPK so I am just now reliving the craziness and stress of the process. Here are a few steps to take to make the process a little easier.
Decide how often or long you want your child to be in school.
Preschool days and times are about 3-4 hours in the morning. I have found most private schools are 5 days a week even for half days, while most churches have flexible plans from 1 day to all 5 days a week. Most preschools also have extended day options for morning and afternoon and some even let you add it for just the day if something comes up. Which is wonderful for those appointments that just don’t work into the short preschool morning. I’ll definitely be taking that into account when I choose a VPK school for Taylin so I can still make those field trips with my son at his school.
Choose the type of preschool.
There are 3 main types of preschools in my area:
- Church (Religious)
- Public School options for VPK
Within these 3 main types of schools are are endless differences from Montessori to traditional, along with what kind of curriculum they use. Even as I type this I am overwhelmed with the amount of information I could bombard you with, really I am trying to make this simple!
Just recently Duval County added public school options for VPK. Now some elementary schools have a VPK class within the K-5 school. This is a wonderful option for those parents that have an older child already in that school and what an incredible way for the child to slowly get accustomed to this big new school they will be a part of the next year. The programs are just beginning so there aren’t many openings for each school, so if you’re interested jump on it soon.
Choose 3 to 5 schools to tour.
A resource I like to use is www.greatschools.org
And of course ask your friends! For me it is important that, if possible, my daughter goes to VPK with the friends she has from our home school coop. During tours you can ask all those important questions about cost, curriculum, expectations, and get a feel for the school. I plan on bringing my daughter on the tours with me to see how she reacts in the environments.
Here is a preschool quality checklist from the state of Florida.
How did you choose your child’s preschool? What about the school made your choice easy?