It's never too early to begin to consider a high-quality voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program (VPK) for your child. (Check your state guidelines for enrollment ages.) See below for seven important reasons why your child should attend VPK!
1. Your child may not need Pre-Kindergarten, but they might—and there's no way to tell.
In her article, "Pre-K for All," Sara Mead discusses the many variables that can affect a child's need for Pre-Kindergarten. Although many professionals identify income level as the deciding factor for attendance in Pre-K, factors such as family life and dynamics, the child's personality, exposure to other children, and "indefinable characteristics" also play a role. In other words, it's safest to assume that all early learners would benefit from Pre-K to prepare them for kindergarten.
2. Pre-Kindergarten can shape your family's view of education and educational expectations in the future…for the better!
The early introduction of academic expectations and positive attitudes toward education benefits early learners in Pre-K in innumerable ways. Attending Pre-K in a high-quality early learning center molds your child into an eager learner with a positive attitude. Additionally, Pre-K's play-based structure can help parents to develop academic expectations for their children and their classrooms without the worries and pressures surrounding paper/computer tests and letter grades.
3. High-quality Pre-Kindergarten can mean the difference between your child being taught and being babysat.
While it may seem tempting to go with an independent babysitter instead of Pre-K, it is no substitute for detailed and personalized play-based lesson plans delivered by experts. This is also something to ponder when choosing between Pre-K and "daycare." Pre-K delivered by a high-quality early learning center and experienced staff has much higher educational value and offers better preparation for kindergarten than non-learning center daycare.
4. Pre-Kindergarten teaches your child how to be a student.
Pre-K introduces your child to the classroom skills essential for kindergarten. These include organization of belongings (jacket, bag, pencils, etc.), the importance of listening to directions, and most importantly—making learning fun!
5. Pre-Kindergarten strengthens social and emotional skills.
A former colleague, Rosario, tells me that Pre-K was a godsend for her only child, Martin. "With myself and Martin's dad at work all of the time, it was difficult for us to schedule playdates for our only child. When Martin was in Pre-K he would come home and couldn't wait to go back the next day to play with his friends." Pre-K can help facilitate your learner in forming friendships, increasing social skills, and negotiating conflicts.
6. Pre-Kindergarten hones language skills and vocabulary development.
As previously discussed, Pre-K places your early learner in a safe environment where they can interact, explore, and discover. Their interactions with others (their teachers and classmates) serve to increase their language and vocabulary skills through exposure and practice.
7. Pre-Kindergarten is the surest way to work to prepare your child for kindergarten.
With the completion of Pre-K, your child will be as equipped as possible to meet the challenges, both social and academic, of kindergarten. The Florida Office of Early Learning states that in 2011-12 "79 percent of children who finished VPK were ready for kindergarten," while "55% of children who didn't go to VPK were kindergarten ready."
Child Care of Southwest Florida participates in the Florida Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program alongside many other learning centers across the state. Do you have any Pre-K success stories? Let us know in the comments!