Meet Scarlett, a 2020 graduate of the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) program. She was one of many preschoolers who enrolled last year into this free program offered to all children in the state of Florida. For many who don’t know, VPK was created by the Florida Legislature in 2005 to give preschoolers a solid foundation to prepare them for kindergarten.

Since 2005, VPK has come to be known as an amazing program that prepares children for success in kindergarten and beyond. Truly it offers a wonderful year of helping preschoolers become accustomed to being away from home and interacting with other students while learning important academic basics.

Throughout the year Scarlett learned with routinely structured activities and she was taught the basics of literacy and other cognitive skills. Eventually she learned how to write her full name and visibly recognize the letters of the alphabet and numbers 1-10. While listening to books being read she was introduced into the exciting world of literacy through wonderful stories that would someday encourage her to read on her own. Recess and snack time also became an important highlight of her day!

Along with her academic skills, she also learned important social emotional skills. Researchers are now discovering that strong social emotional skills are a great determiner of a successful life. In her class Scarlett joined in many activities that required her to pause and listen for directions. She learned patience when she practiced waiting for her turn. Even during playtime she was taught to share and consider the feelings of other children. It was an incredible year of learning and now we’re happy to report Scarlett was very excited to move on to kindergarten. Her time in the VPK program most definitely prepared her for the transition.

If your child is between the ages of 4 and 5 before September 1, please consider enrolling them in a VPK program today. VPK is offered through both private child care providers and public schools. Specialized instructional services providers also offer VPK. For more information contact the Early Learning Coalition of Polk County at or call
863-577-2450. Don’t miss out on this chapter of learning in your preschooler’s life that will make all the difference in the future!

VPK providers have flexibility in structuring the hours per day and days per week to meet the required instructional hours. For example, if a program is 180 days (similar to a school year calendar), it would offer 3 hours of instruction each day to meet the 540-hour requirement. A provider could also choose to offer a 6-hour per-day morning or afternoon program.

VPK Frequently Asked Questions:

Q – When is my child eligible for the 
       VPK program?
A – A child must be 4 years of age on or 
      before September 1 of the program 
     year, and live in Florida.

Q – Is there a cost or fee to enroll?
A – There is no cost or fee to enroll in 
      VPK. It is a free program for all 

Q – What VPK program options are  
A – There are different options for
a. A school-year program consisting 
  of 540 instructional hours.
b. A summer program consisting of
     300 instructional hours.
c. A specialized instructional service.