Registration underway for Summer VPK program | News, Sports, Jobs

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Registration for a shortened voluntary summer preschool kindergarten program offered at Sunshine Elementary School and the Early Childhood Learning Center is now open.

Tiffany Franklin, Head Start program coordinator, said that due to COVID, many children are staying at home this year trying to reach more children and help them achieve schooling. She said summer VPK is a requirement as the Lee County School District receives funding to provide 300 hours of training for eligible children.

The summer program is open to students who turn 5 by September 1st and who do not have access to the VPK program during the school year.

“This is a shorter summer provided the rule hasn’t changed, at which point we’ll be walking from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from June 22, just after school closes, to July 30, just before the teachers return: 40 o’clock “ Said Franklin.

She explained that there is a certified teacher who goes through and gives teachers breaks. Even when the regular teacher isn’t in class, the kids are still studying and getting what they need.

The two locations where the VPK program will take place are Sunshine Elementary School, 601 Sara Ave. N., Lehigh Acres, and the Early Childhood Learning Center, 3650 Michigan Ave., Fort Myers.

There’s a 12 classroom capacity for the VPK summer program, though Franklin said they don’t expect to fill all of them. In a typical summer, they usually fill three to four classrooms or have between 54 and 72 students.

The goal is to keep the classes under 12 students, the state ceiling. If there are more than 12 students in the classroom, there will be two or paraprofessional teachers to assist that teacher.

“All of our teachers are state certified, a pre-k primary certification. You must have at least a bachelor’s degree and a Florida State Teacher Certification. “ Said Franklin.

The very first day of the summer program will include an orientation for parents to understand what kind of things the student should do and learn, and how the teacher will facilitate this. The summer VPK will focus on language, literacy and math skills as well as social skills in a playful environment.

“These are the biggest determinants of a successful year in kindergarten through third grade. Children need to be able to read, that’s really the focus. “ Said Franklin.

They will be playing outdoors so kids can get active. For those students who may need some rest, teachers will provide time if needed. There will also be small and large groups.

“Masks are mandatory for teachers and students. If students haven’t worn them and don’t know how, the teacher’s job is to help them understand why to wear them and how to wear them properly so that they understand why. “ Said Franklin.

Those interested in joining the program can do so by calling the Early Childhood Center at (239) 332-2512 to schedule an appointment. Registration can also take place in March from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. without an appointment at the James Stephens International Academy, 1333 Marsh Ave., Fort Myers.

Before enrolling, the student needs a VPK voucher from the Early Learning Coalition, which can be issued at www.elcofswfl.org or in person at 2675 Winkler Ave., Fort Myers.

“When they come to the Early Childhood Center, they’ll need the voucher and kindergarten credentials, child’s birth certificate, and proof of address.” Said Franklin. “It’s a free program for all families of 4-year-olds attending kindergarten in Florida this fall.”

There is no registration deadline, unless the places are full before the first day of the course.

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