Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK): What parents need to know

Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program is a FREE, state-funded educational program designed to prepare every four year old in the state for kindergarten. The goal of the program is to build a child’s foundation for educational success.

Guided by the Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards, the VPK program offers every child an opportunity to participate in developmentally appropriate activities in literacy, language, science, social studies, math, health and safety, art, physical development and music.

What is a typical day like in VPK?

As parents of a four-year-old child, you can expect a day in VPK to include activities such as morning circle, center-time choices, outside play, science investigations, small group instruction, rest, and closing circle. This structure offers children balanced opportunities to learn through play, exploration, and real-world experiences.

Center-time choices allow children to select activities such as blocks, dramatic play, art, construction toys, and science. Outside play offers children time to run, play and explore outside.

In addition to unstructured play, additional activities are planned to extend children’s learning about a curriculum topic they are currently studying in their classroom. During the day, teachers play alongside children to encourage physical, social, and cognitive development.

Voluntary PreK, FloridaHow do I know if my child is meeting VPK standards?

Assessments are an essential component of teaching and learning. Children are assessed using the Florida VPK Assessment and Teaching Strategies GOLD.

The information from these assessments provides an indication of a child’s progress toward mastering the end-of-the-year expectations as defined in the Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards. Teachers use this information to guide their planning in meeting the individual needs of each child.

What is the difference between summer VPK and VPK during the school year?

Parents can choose between a school year and a summer VPK program. The school year program includes 540 instructional hours. In Pinellas County Schools, the first three hours of the school day are FREE VPK program hours.

Families may choose to extend the day with VPK+3, which is an additional three hours. This program allows children to attend for the full 6-hour school day through a weekly tuition fee. At some schools, the tuition is waived for qualifying families.

Our summer program includes 300 instructional hours and runs Monday through Friday from 8 – 4 p.m. This FREE program is available for students the summer before entering kindergarten and only for those that did not attend VPK during the school year. FREE before and after care is also available.

What are the enrollment requirements for VPK?

To be eligible for VPK, children must live in Florida and be four years old on or before September 1of the school year.

Parents may register for VPK through the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas. The application is completed online at www.vpkpinellas.net. During the application process, parents must show proof of Florida residency and their child’s age.

Examples of proof of residency include a Florida Driver’s License or utility bill. You can use a birth certificate or immunization record to verify your child’s age.

Pinellas County Schools offers both school year and summer VPK programs at select locations throughout the county. Discover why families are making Pinellas County Schools their first choice for their children’s early childhood education.

Be sure to visit www.pcsb.org/VPK or call (727) 588-6513 for further enrollment details.

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