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Florida families invited to use social media to celebrate their child's first day of VPK.

7/28/2017

AS THOUSANDS OF students BEGIN VPK, FAMILIES INVITED TO TWEET ABOUT IT

Tallahassee, Fla. It is back-to-school season, and soon thousands of the state’s youngest students will be starting Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Education Program, a state-funded education program offered to all 4-year-olds.

To celebrate the start of a new year of VPK, Florida’s Office of Early Learning and early learning coalitions across the state are launching “My First Day of VPK,” a statewide social media campaign to welcome children into the program and help parents mark this important milestone in their child’s life. VPK programs start on different days in Florida, so the campaign will begin in August and run through the beginning of September of the 2017-2018 school year.

Parents can visit www.floridaearlylearning.com/vpk/my_first_day_of_vpk.aspx to download and print a special flyer for their children to hold for commemorative photos. Then, they can use #1stDayVPK to post the photos on social media. The office will be sharing #1stDayVPK-tagged content on its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts through early September.

As well as the printable flyer, the web page has tips for parents and children as they prepare for the first day of VPK. There is also a Pinterest board with more resources for children beginning VPK.

Along with families, many school districts and VPK providers will be participating and adding their own activities to make the day special.

VPK builds a strong foundation for school using educational material corresponding to various stages in a child's development. According to the Center for Public Education, high-quality prekindergarten programs not only help children with kindergarten readiness, but can also lead to better school performance and higher graduation rates later on.

Fast facts:

-     VPK is free for children who reside in Florida and will be 4 years old by Sept. 1 of the year they enroll. Parents whose children are born between Feb. 2 and Sept. 1 of the calendar year may postpone enrolling their 4-year-old until the following year when their child is 5.

-     Results of kindergarten screenings have shown that children who completed VPK are better prepared for kindergarten than those who did not complete or did not attend VPK.

-     One of the first states to offer free prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds, Florida leads all other states in access.

-     During the 2016-2017 school year, about 76 percent of Florida’s 4-year-olds—more than 165,000 children—were enrolled in VPK.

-     Approximately 6,200 private, public and charter schools and private child care centers offer VPK.

-     There are school year and summer VPK programs as well as specialized instructional services for 4-year-olds with special needs.

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Part of the Florida Department of Education, the Office of Early Learning administers Florida’s voluntary prekindergarten education, school readiness, and child care resource and referral programs through 30 local early learning coalitions to ensure Florida’s children are emotionally, physically, socially and intellectually prepared to enter school and ready to learn. More than 345,000 children from birth to school age are enrolled in VPK and school readiness programs in Florida. To learn more, visit www.FloridaEarlyLearning.com or call 850-717-8604.

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