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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Preschool for Free in Florida

If you have young kids, you may be thinking about preschool. Did you know that when your child is 4 years old they can go to preschool for free? It is part of the state funded program called Voluntary Prekindergarten or VPK. Right now preschools are registering for next year. A lot of times the good schools get filled up fast, so you have to start looking now if you plan on enrolling your child for the fall. You need to look at a preschool that is certified with the state. There are certain requirements that a school must have to be considered as a VPK school.
Both of my daughters went to a private preschool at our church, Faith Presbyterian. There they offered VPK three hours a day Monday through Friday. For our family this was perfect. Some preschools offer VPK three days a week five hours a day. It all depends on the school. I was a little hesitant at first about pre-K because I was a stay at home mom and my children never had gone to preschool before. I think my hesitation may have been that I never went to preschool, so I didn’t think my kids needed preschool. My husband and I knew friends that had sent their kids to VPK. So, I thought well, if it is free and my kid only goes for three ours a day, I guess I can handle it.  I was very impressed by the school. The teachers were fantastic and my girls loved going to school every day. It was a wonderful bonding time for my daughters to meet other little kids. It was also a great experience for me, because I was able to meet so many other moms that are now my friends.  Preschool usually runs around $2500 for the school year, so we saved that much on each child. A pretty nice savings, especially if your child was going to be in preschool anyway.
I know every parent has their own thoughts on whether or not their child should go to preschool, and I respect that.  I have asked kindergarten teachers if they noticed a difference between the kids that went to preschool and those that didn’t. Most have said yes.  My sister is a kindergarten teacher and she told me she definitely sees a difference at the beginning of the year.  She said that the students that attend VPK know a little more what to expect in kindergarten. The students know how to stand in a line, raise their hand to answer a question and most of the time already know their letters of the alphabet. Some even know how to read a little.
I think preschool is like kindergarten was back when I was kid, many moons ago. If you don’t have kids in school yet, you are in for a big surprise. I was shocked when my daughter started reading in pre-k. She is in kindergarten now and is reading books. When I was little, I remember kindergarten as a time for learning letters and naps. Kids don’t get naps anymore and sight words are what the children are learning. They are even writing sentences and stories. Pre-K was a good start for my two girls.
My recommendation is to check around and see what school fits your needs. Any child that is four years old and lives in the state of Florida is eligible for VPK. You do need to register. If the state is paying for your child to go to preschool, why not take advantage of it? It may not be for every child, but it is an opportunity that you should consider.

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