The Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK)
The Voluntary Prekindergarten Education (VPK) program was created in 2005 to prepare every four-year-old for kindergarten and continued educational success. The VPK program helps each child build a strong foundation through the use of developmentally appropriate curricula with an emphasis on early literacy skills. Highlights of the VPK program include manageable class sizes, program accountability and increased instructor credentials.
The VPK Education Program has received high marks on parent satisfaction surveys, with the vast majority of families stating that they were very satisfied with the program. The state has analyzed program information and determined that the more time children spend in quality VPK programs, the better prepared they are for kindergarten. The state assessment scored Peppermint Tree Preschool among the BEST in Florida in providing quality education and Kindergarten readiness.
The program has been very successful because Florida recognizes that parents are children’s first teachers. The partnership between families and VPK providers is the cornerstone of the VPK program.
VPK is FREE for all children four years old born on or before September 1 of the program year.
There are no income requirements to be eligible for VPK.
That Florida’s children are eager to learn and ready to succeed when they enter kindergarten.
Your child is precious to us and our goal is to ensure that all children are intellectually, emotionally, physically, and socially ready to enter school and enjoy learning.
Highlights of the VPK program
• High quality educational program with an early literacy focus
• FREE for all children four-years-old born on or before September 1 of the program year who reside in Florida
• Your child will learn: phonics, numbers, colors, shapes, basic money, word families, site words,
compound words, blending sounds, and early reading skills.
School Year Program (Fall VPK)
It consist of 540 instructional hours. Class sizes are not to exceed 11 students when there is a single lead instructor or up to 20 students with a lead instructor and an assistant.
To Enroll Your Child In VPK
Bring your child’s birth certificate, proof or residency (like a copy of any utility bill) and your ID (Driver’s License or Passport) to request your child’s VPK Eligibility Voucher. Our Center Director will gladly help you Monday through Friday between 1:30 PM and 4:00 PM.
2016-2017 VPK Program at Peppermint Tree Preschool
Our Fall VPK program will start on Monday, August 15, 2016 and will end on Monday, June 5, 2017.
We offer the following schedules:
• Morning Session: 9 AM to 12 PM
• Afternoon Session: 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM
Peppermint Tree Preschool is an approved Child Care of Southwest Florida Food Program provider. Your child will receive the following FREE meals while attending our VPK Program:
• Morning Session: Breakfast and Lunch
• Afternoon Session: Lunch and PM Snack
For those looking for After-VPK care, our Wrap Around Program is also available. Please request more information and pricing in our Administration Office.
We also offer a convenient and affordable transportation service within San Carlos Park, Estero, and Bonita Springs.
NOTE: Please keep in mind that as a parent, you have the responsibility to comply with the VPK attendance and other program policies. We strongly encourage you to become familiar with the policies that apply to children in VPK. You will receive a copy of the policies with your Enrollment Packet.
INFANTS AND ONES ROOMS
(6 WEEKS TO 24 MONTHS)
|These are places to:
Active Learning for Infants/Toddlers
Infants and one-year-olds are innate problem solvers and whether they are mouthing rattles or banging on a toy, they are discovering what they can do and how their environment reacts.
Language: We believe infants and one-year-olds should be exposed to as much language as possible to support emerging language skills. Our teachers are talking all the time, describing what they are doing, what is happening next, repeating what the infants "say," singing and reading. The activities are planned in the following areas: Listening/Talking, Early Reading, and Early Writing.
Dramatic Play: Simple experiences handling toys that they will late use to “make-believe”, such as dolls, stuffed animals, toy telephones, and pots and pans.
Math: To strengthen their understanding, our teachers help them experiment with the following concepts in our program: Number/Quantity, Size/Shapes, and Colors.
Science: When they are awake, infants and one-year-olds are busy almost every moment figuring out their world. As they explore with their senses. Each week, our teachers plan activities that include the following: Nature Activities, Cause & Effect Experiences, and Engagements that Promote Curiosity.
Music: Music for infants and one-year-olds include songs and chants, moving to rhythms, making music with musical toys or instruments, and listening to music made by others. At the beginning, babies enjoy gentle rhythmic movement, singing or chanting, and other soft music. Later, children want to move on their own sounds using everyday things and simple musical instruments.
Blocks: Includes use of any materials that can be stacked – small colored cubes; wooden unit blocks; foam or cardboard blocks; homemade stacking toys, such as covered boxes. At the beginning, babies are given blocks to look at, hold and drop. Later, older babies and one-year olds will learn to copy simple stacking games and use blocks for loading and unloading games.
Creative Art: Includes things put up for them to look at as well as materials given to them to feel. At the beginning, babies respond to brightly colored objects and pictures close to them. Later, the feel of different textures becomes important to babies.
TWO’S AND THREE’S ROOMS
|These are places to:
- Adapt to school life while having fun
- Develop habits and routines
Active Learning for Toddlers
Language skills for two-year-olds and three-year-olds are blossoming. They can understand and say hundreds of words, but familiar adults may need to "translate" for others due to immature pronunciation skills. During the year, they pick up most parts of speech to form more complete sentences. They understand simple directions and many common phrases used in routine situations. They will rarely initiate conversations, but they answer adult questions more readily and need less prompting.
The teacher plans small group language activities. The following types of activities are incorporated into the classroom: Puppets, Dramatic Play, Emergent Writing, Picture/ Big Books, Emerging ABC Games and Matching Games.
Two-year-olds and three-year-olds are highly curious about unfamiliar objects, events, and phenomena. They gather information using all their senses and motor skills. They also notice what happens as the result of certain actions and are beginning to categorize objects into groups. We introduce tools such a magnifying glass, microscope, shells.
Two-year-olds and three-year-olds learn important math skills from their play and routines. They show symbolic thinking with pretend play and recognize patterns with daily activities. Children are just beginning to use logical reasoning to solve everyday problems. The Math Center is equipped with sorting shapes, numbers puzzles with eight pieces or less, and stack a set of rings on a peg by size.
Two-year-olds and three-year-olds enjoy playing alongside other children but usually keep to themselves. When conflicts arise, adults need to step in to prevent aggression and teach appropriate behaviors. They beginning to label feelings that they recognize in themselves and others. Controlling their emotions is still difficult, however, so frustration may trigger emotional meltdowns. Comfort objects like teddy bears are located in the Safe Place to help the children cope with new situations or strong emotions.
Two-year-olds and three-year-olds explore the sounds made by banging and shaking instruments and household items. They are gaining control over their voices and will join in singing the refrains of their favorite songs. They also enjoy dancing upon request, doing finger plays and acting out chants and songs. With art, they enjoy the sensory pleasures of the art materials and focus on the process of creating art, rather than the final product. Children also pretend more during play.
Our classrooms are equipped with a sensory table that allows for hands-on exploration of various textures, materials, and items related to the weekly themes.
Two-year-olds and three-year-olds are laying the groundwork for reading and writing. They enjoy reading books with adults, and may independently look through familiar books and pretend to read. They also can sing the A-B-C song, but they don't yet understand that the letter names correspond to specific graphic designs. They also make a variety of scribble marks anywhere and everywhere, and may even attempt to write the first letter of their name. The Writing Center is equipped with paper of different sizes and crayons. The Library Center has big books, picture books, and musical books.
Gross / Fine Motor Skills
Two-year-olds and three-year-olds explore all the ways to travel from here to there, including rolling, crawling, creeping, walking, and running, jumping and climbing. They can also kick a small ball forward, catch a rolled ball and throw a ball overhand (but with little accuracy). During outdoor play, children are encouraged to play with hula -hoops, balls, bubbles and foam noodles.
Two-year-olds and three-year-olds love finger play activities (e.g., "The Itsy, Bitsy, Spider"), pounding and squeezing clay, shaking rhythm instruments, and scribbling. They can turn doorknobs and unscrew lids, and have improved their skills using eating utensils.
Two’s and three’s Daily Schedule
We love a good book! Each day we set aside time to read together. Our read-aloud activities encourage us to be readers as we read simple, repetitive stories with predictable text. We also learn about different authors, illustrators and different types of stories.
Meals & Snacks
Children who are with us all day enjoy daily, nutritious snacks and meals. Besides a balanced meal, we also focus on table manners, independence, and good eating habits. Intimate preschool classroom dining allows children to eat at their own pace in a familiar environment. Teachers and children sit and eat together, sharing good food and conversation.
Outdoor Fun & Exercise
Our classroom learning extends to the outdoors as our teachers plan daily, interactive outdoor enrichments. You will find games, water play, sand play, books and chalk in our outdoor "classrooms". Each class is scheduled for outside time twice daily in an age appropriate play area. Our play equipment on each playground meets the highest standards and is designed to maximize fun and safety for all ages.
Kids are in charge of choosing which areas they want to explore. Our Enriching Play centers are designed to give children independence and are equipped with invitations that promote unique learning opportunities. Each day, they have the opportunity to visit dramatic play, construction, literacy, writing, creative arts, math/manipulatives, science, music, computers, easel, and sensory table. Each station is enriched weekly so there is something new for the children to discover.
Children who stay with us a full day have the opportunity to rest on assigned cots. Children enjoy a calm atmosphere with soft, dim lighting and a cuddly blanket from home. While some doze off and nap for a time, others may enjoy a good book or a quiet activity.
—Children Who Do Not Qualify For
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK)—
|A places to:
- Use dynamism as a learning experience
Active Learning for Four’s
Every day we gather together at circle time and share stories, talk about our day and plan our learning journey. We give a weather report and take a look at our calendar.
Our centers are designed to give children independence and are equipped with invitations that promote unique learning opportunities. Each day, they have the opportunity to visit dramatic play, block/construction, language, writing, creative arts, math/manipulatives, science, music, easel, and sensory. Each station is enriched with the weekly theme so there is something new for the children to discover.
Teachers plan rich literacy engagements each day that develop the following skills: Concepts of Print, Phonological Awareness, Letter-Sound Knowledge, Vocabulary, Oral Language and Listening/Reading Comprehension. The language skills of four-year-olds progress rapidly. They begin communicating in complex and compound sentences, have very few pronunciation errors and expand their vocabularies daily. They can follow multi-step directions and understand explanations given for things they can see. Four-year-olds frequently initiate conversations, are less likely to change the subject of conversation to areas of personal interest and are getting better at sharing personal experiences. Our language center is equipped with sequencing, A,B,C’s magnetic letters, lower case letter board, sand paper lower case letters, objects that go together flashcards, matching object to beginning sound, primary/secondary colors wheels, compound words.
Four years old can count to "ten," recognize written numerals "0" to "9," and add and subtract using numbers up to "four." Four-year-olds know some variations of a circle, square, triangle and rectangle. They know days of the week, months, and the seasons, but still cannot tell time. Children can find cero to nine one-to-one correspondence, 0-9 sand numbers, shapes, 0-9 beads stair, sorting.
Children usually first attempt writing during the preschool years. Their vocabulary expands dramatically at this age, and they begin to understand that symbols, including letters and numbers. They see Mom and Dad scribbling away at a note or a shopping list and want to do the same, which is why you may catch your kid penning his own nonsensical memos full of zigzags, circles, and other almost-letter shapes. Our classroom is equipped with paper of different sizes, pencils, child’s name, and individual dry erase boards.
Four years old block play is more experienced, developed, balanced coordinated and organized. Constructive play involves play that is more open- ended and exploratory. Children begin to combine structures to make more complex buildings. Socially, four year olds are beginning to share ideas and are starting to cooperate and build with others. Block play shows the opportunity for conceptual understanding in the area of structural engineering as children explore forces of gravity, compression, tension and the relationship between materials and successful design to achieve balance, stability, and even aesthetic sensibility. Preschoolers are beginning to notice and explore more 3– dimensional objects such as cones, cylinders, cubes and prisms, (geometry). Science is also being learned through block play as children start making predictions, comparisons, experiment with cause and effect, stability and balance. Their vocabulary is also expanded by block play as they develop an understanding of spatial relations and words such as “under,” “over,” “off,” “bottom,” “top,” “through,” and “beside.”
Our block center is equipped with toys in shapes of people, farm/ wild animals, traffic signs, wooden/plastic blocks. New items are added on a weekly basis to match the theme of the week.
There are basically six skills children work with and develop as they take part in dramatic play experiences.
- Role Playing – Four years old mimic behaviors and verbal expressions of someone or something they are pretending to be. At first they will imitate one or two actions, but as time progresses they will be able to expand their roles by creating several actions relevant to the role they are playing.
- Use of Materials/Props –By incorporating objects into pretend play, children can extend or elaborate on their play. In the beginning they will mainly rely on realistic materials. From there they will move on to material substitution, such as using a rope to represent a fire hose, and progress to holding in their hands in such a way to indicate that they are holding an actual hose.
- Pretending/Make-Believe –All dramatic play is make-believe. Children pretend to be the mother, fireman, driver, etc. by imitating actions they have witnessed others doing. As the use of dramatic play increases, children begin to use words to enhance and describe their re-enactments. Some children may even engage in fantasy, where the situations they are acting out aren’t pulled from real-life experiences.
- Attention Span/Length of Time –Early ventures into the field of dramatic play may only last a few minutes, but as the children grow, develop, and experience more, they will be able to incorporate additional actions and words, which will lengthen the time they engage in such activities.
- Social Skills/Interaction –Dramatic play promotes the development of social skills through interaction with others, peers or adults. As children climb the social skill ladder of development through play, they will move from pretending at the same time without any actual interaction, to pretending that involves several children playing different roles and relating to each other from the perspective of their assigned roles.
- Communication –Dramatic play promotes the use of speaking and listening skills. When children take part in this type of play, they practice words they have heard others say, and realize that they must listen to what other “players” say in order to be able to respond in an appropriate fashion. It also teaches them to choose their words wisely so that others will understand exactly what it is they are trying to communicate.
Dramatic Play and Development
Dramatic play enhances child development in four major areas.
- Social/Emotional –When children come together in a dramatic play experience, they have to agree on a topic (basically what “show” they will perform), negotiate roles, and cooperate to bring it all together. And by recreating some of the life experiences they actually face, they learn how to cope with any fears and worries that may accompany these experiences. Children who participate in dramatic play experiences are better able to show empathy for others because they have “tried out” being that someone else for a while. They also develop the skills they need to cooperate with their peers, learn to control their impulses, and tend to be less aggressive than children who do not engage in this type of play.
- Physical –Dramatic play helps children develop both gross and fine motor skills – fire fighters climb and parents dress their babies. And when children put their materials away, they practice eye-hand coordination and visual discrimination.
- Cognitive –When children are involved in make-believe play, they make use of pictures they have created in their minds to recreate past experiences, which is a form of abstract thinking. Setting a table for a meal, counting out change as a cashier, dialing a telephone, and setting the clock promote the use of math skills. By adding such things as magazines, road signs, food boxes and cans, paper and pencils to the materials included in the area, we help children develop literacy skills. When children come together in this form of play, they also learn how to share ideas, and solve problems together.
- Language –In order to work together in a dramatic play situation, children learn to use language to explain what they are doing. They learn to ask and answer questions and the words they use fit whatever role they are playing. Personal vocabularies grow as they begin to use new words appropriately, and the importance of reading and writing skills in everyday life becomes apparent by their use of literacy materials that fill the area.
Dramatic play engages children in both life and learning. Its’ real value lies in the fact that it increases their understanding of the world they live in, while it works to develop personal skills that will help them meet with success throughout their lives. The dramatic center in the classrooms are equipped with dolls, blankets, adults clothing and shoes, hats, foods (real boxes of foods), pots and pans, plates, silverware, clipboards with pencils, purses.
Music and Movement
Music for four years old includes songs and chants, moving to rhythms, making music with musical instruments, ribbons, rhythm sticks, and listening to music made by others. Later, they want to move on their own sounds using everyday things and simple musical instruments.
Four-year-olds approach the world with great curiosity and use their imaginations to help understand it. Hands-on explorations help them to separate reality from fantasy. They can participate in the planning and implementation of simple scientific investigations, and over the course of the year, will increase their abilities to make observations, gather information, compare data, identify patterns, describe and discuss observations, and form explanations and generalizations. The science center is equipped with magnifying glasses, magnetic/ non-magnetic objects for classification, sink and float objects, shells of different shapes and sizes.
Four-year-olds engage in long periods of active play and exercise. They are skillful at walking, climbing, jumping, hopping, skipping, marching and galloping. They also are better able to throw, catch, kick and bounce balls. Improved finger dexterity allows them to hold writing tools with a more mature, tripod grip. Advances in hand-eye coordination help four-year-olds do puzzles, play with toys that have small parts and dress and undress without assistance. During outdoors activities, children are encourage to play with hoola hoops, jump ropes, Frisbees, parachute, basketballs, bubbles, chalk, tag, Duck, duck, goose, hide and seek, water table.