For many years, Kindergarten has been considered the first step of a child’s educational journey. But as we’ve learned more about how children learn and grow, it has become clear that children’s brains develop significantly before Kindergarten even begins.
Pre-kindergarten programs provide an essential foundation for lifelong learning during a child’s earliest years. Pre-K students learn valuable skills that can set them up for success in Kindergarten and beyond–and they also have a lot of fun.
All pre-kindergarten programs are not created alike. There are many different approaches, philosophies, and types of programs available in Florida, and finding the one that best fits your child’s needs is essential. This article will explore the benefits of this program and how to choose a voluntary pre-kindergarten near you.
The Benefits of Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten
Young children are like sponges soaking up all the information around them and learning so much about people, places, and the world daily. Research shows us that the most critical brain growth and development occurs before a child turns five years old. It is important to guide children during this essential developmental stage and provide them with the tools they’ll need to thrive in school and life.
Voluntary pre-kindergarten programs are designed to prepare young children for school. Studies show that kids who participate in high-quality preschool programs have better language skills, relationships with others, and fewer behavior issues once they begin kindergarten. Kids who attend Pre-K programs typically score higher in pre-reading and pre-math tests, too.
But one of the most significant benefits of pre-kindergarten is that it introduces children to school gently. Kids learn how to listen to a teacher, follow directions, and develop other critical school-readiness skills within a loving, supportive, and enriching environment.
How to Choose a Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Near You
As a parent or guardian, you want the best for your children. Choosing a voluntary pre-kindergarten program is an important decision. Taking the time to do some research will help you feel confident in your choice and ensure your child is in the most positive environment.
Here are some things you can do when choosing a voluntary pre-kindergarten near you.
Site visits can tell you a lot about how a pre-K program works. If possible, visit during the morning hours when the school day will be in full swing. Visiting the school in person can give you insights and information that can be harder to get from looking at a website.
Look to see if the school is clean and well-maintained. Watch how staff members interact with the children and what types of activities they are doing. Notice if children have enough space to move freely and high-quality toys and materials to use during the day. Use this opportunity to ask questions about the daily schedule, policies, educational philosophy, and anything else you’re curious about.
Bring your child
A high-quality pre-K program can give your child an excellent foundation for lifelong learning–but your child also must enjoy going to school to get the most out of the program. If you can, bring your child when you attend site visits. Let them meet the staff and explore the school so that they will feel more confident joining the program later.
Learn about the school
Before setting up a site visit, do your homework, Read about the program’s curriculum from the school’s website, look for parent reviews, and make sure you understand the educational philosophy it uses.
If you’re feeling stuck or unsure about what to ask, here are some questions that may give you valuable insights about the program:
- Is your program licensed?
- What kind of education and training do your staff have?
- What is the staff-to-student ratio?
- How do you manage discipline?
- How do you balance active and quiet time?
- Do you follow a developmentally appropriate curriculum?
A high-quality pre-kindergarten program should be able to answer these questions and provide all the information you’ll need to make the best choice for your child.
It goes without saying, but a preschool should be a warm, welcoming place. While you’re on your site visit, pay attention to how the staff interacts with the children. Do the children approach staff with confidence? Do they seem generally happy at school?
The relationship between pre-K teachers and children is essential. For some children, pre-K programs may be the first time they’ve been separated from their caregivers for a significant period. It’s important to consider how the staff works with children who are anxious or upset.
Choosing a voluntary pre-kindergarten doesn’t have to be complicated. Find local programs that meet your needs and set up a visit to gather the information you’ll need to make this important decision.
Find a Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Near You
At New Horizons Preschool and Learning Center, we offer nurturing, high-quality VPK programs that can give children the skills they’ll need to succeed in school. Our dedicated staff provides loving support and education to children and their families and would love to meet with you.
If you’re looking for a voluntary pre-kindergarten near you, reach out to our admissions staff now to schedule a site visit.