A voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) program helps prepare children for kindergarten by providing engaging and age-appropriate activities while familiarizing children with a classroom environment. Florida offers free VPK to give every family, regardless of income, the chance to prepare their children for kindergarten and school.
Read on to learn about the requirements your child has to meet to be eligible for free VPK, as well as the reasons why these requirements are in place.
What Requirements Are Necessary To Qualify For VPK In Florida?
For your child to be eligible for free VPK in Florida, they need to meet two requirements:
- They must reside in Florida.
- They must be 4 years old on or before the first of September that year.
Florida was one of the first states to offer free voluntary prekindergarten to all eligible children. The free VPK program was implemented in 2005 and has been widely successful in ensuring children are ready and prepared for kindergarten.
Why Must Children Be 4 Years Old?
By the age of 4, children meet important developmental milestones that help them function successfully in a group environment. If your child is too young, they may not benefit fully from the early learning activities offered in a VPK program.
Children have several types of developmental milestones: 1) social and emotional, 2) language and communication, 3) cognitive, and 4) movement or physical. Here are some examples of each type of milestone:
Social And Emotional Milestones
Social and emotional milestones have to do with building relationships with others and with themselves. By the age of 4, children will ask to play with their friends if they aren’t around. They can comfort someone who is hurt or sad, and they love to help out and be useful. This behavior allows them to be a good friend to their peers, and take ownership of their surroundings.
Lastly, a 4-year-old knows that different locations require different behavior. They will change how they act depending on where they are and who they’re with. This is an essential skill when moving to a school setting.
Language And Communication Milestones
Language and communication milestones are reached when your child can express their needs, hold conversations with peers, and understand what is required of them during class activities. Most 4-year-olds can speak sentences with more than 4 words, and they can remember lyrics from songs and stories. They know how to talk about what they’ve done throughout the day or week.
At this stage, children begin to understand the purpose of different objects. They can answer simple questions, like “What is a bucket for?” or “What do we use crayons for?” If they don’t understand what a word means, they’ll ask about it! This is truly the sponge age, and every day holds thousands of learning opportunities for your child.
Cognitive milestones have to do with thinking, learning, and problem-solving. At 4 years old, children can name colors and shapes, and they can compare and contrast objects of different shapes and sizes. They also begin to understand abstract ideas like “bigger,” “less,” “late,r” “if,” and “when.” They begin to think in logical steps as their minds develop the ability to understand consequences.
Most 4-year-olds can completely focus on one activity for about 15 minutes. This is important for a classroom setting, where they’ll be given many stimulating activities throughout the school day.
Movement And Physical Milestones
Movement and physical milestones at this age are split into two groups of skills: gross motor skills and fine motor skills.
Gross motor skills involve large muscle movements, like walking, running, dodging obstacles, skipping, throwing and catching balls, jumping, riding a bike, or using a door handle. At this age, children use up their seemingly endless energy with many new movements.
Fine motor skills require more finesse and involve smaller muscle groups. Fine motor activities include drawing, using zippers, doing buttons, using scissors, pinching clay, stringing large beads onto a string, pouring water from one container to another, and holding a pen between their finger and thumb.
Enroll Your Child In A Quality VPK Program
A quality VPK program readies your child for kindergarten by helping them reach important developmental milestones and get used to a classroom setting. Here at Parkland Children’s Academy, we pride ourselves on providing an enriching and fun VPK program that is filled with early learning activities and the highest curricula standards to fit your child’s developmental needs.
Is your child turning 4 before September 1st this year? Enroll them in our VPK program today and get them ready for preschool!
If you have any questions about the registration process, give us a call at (954) 688-5877. We can’t wait to hear from you.