HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) – Hillsborough County Public Schools is stressing the importance of the Voluntary Pre-kindergarten program, otherwise known as VPK, and how it prepares student’s to hit the ground running when they start Kindergarten.
The district’s VPK program saw a decline in enrollment due to the pandemic last year. Right now, HCPS has about 500 students enrolled in the Summer VPK program, which is up from last summer but still lower than the nearly 800 students enrolled the summer prior to the pandemic.
School leaders say the program is much more than just learning letters, numbers, and shapes.
“True kindergarten readiness starts with social emotional learning. Can students sit, can they follow directions, what is the oral language development that we are giving our students,” said Amanda Osorio, the Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction for Early Childhood.
VPK helps get students adapted to school before they enter Kindergarten.
“We can get acclimated to the systems, the policies and procedures not only to Hillsborough County but also of that school,” added Osorio.
Hillsborough County Public Schools is encouraging parents to take advantage of the free program to help students become successful.
“It’s put first chance to close the gap before it’s too large. In pre-k and early childhood education students’ brains are now so malleable and the content gap is so small. If we do this right, by the time they get to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade they will be reading and writing, and behaving with proficiency,” said Osorio.
Parents can still register their child for Summer VPK or Fall VPK. For more details visit Hillsborough County Public Schools website.