Registration is underway for Escambia County’s volunteer pre-kindergarten program.
Seventy-one locations across Escambia will provide VPK beginning in August for kids who turn four years old on or before September 1. Most are privately-run, with 14 in the public school district, where Melanie Perritt is the Teacher on Special Assignment for Pre-k.
“We serve around 540-plus students,” said Perritt. “We have 32 classrooms, collaborative classrooms with Head Start students, migrant students, ESE [Exceptional Student Education] students, and of course our VPK Title-1.”
Perritt says going through pre-K as a four-year-old benefits them greatly, by the time they turn five and enter a kindergarten program. Teaching techniques for a group of kids that young involve a lot of hands-on activities, and try to avoid abstract material because Perritt says at four years of age, they’re just not ready.
“Anything we can do through the senses: if they can touch it, taste it, feel it, smell it,” Perritt said. “And we make it real and concrete. That’s the way we teach in pre-kindergarten.”
Pre-K is a full-day program in the Escambia School District. A typical day runs from around 7:15 a-m to 2:15 p-m. Times vary with the hours at the individual schools. And when you have a room full of four-year-olds for six or seven hours per day, Perritt says the teacher’s challenge is keeping everyone’s attention on the same page.
“If you get up in front of those students and you’re boring, you’re going to lose them in a matter of seconds and have absolute chaos in your classroom,” said Perritt. “Pre-K teachers are unique people; they know how to keep the momentum going, and create a safe environment while they’re teaching.”
Registration will be going on until August, just before the start of the 2016-17 school year. Parents need to sign up their kids at the Title-I office at Spencer-Bibb Elementary School on North 6th Avenue. Or they can go online to www.Familyservices.floridaearlylearning.com to download a Certificate of Eligibility form.
“They need their [child’s] birth certificate, a proof of residence,” said Perritt. “We like for them to have a Gulf Power bill or a water bill. Online, they can use the birth certificate and a Florida driver’s license, as long as their address is correct on that.”
Locations have limits on the number of students who can be enrolled there, so Perritt advises that parents should not wait until the end of summer to complete this process.
Once again, more information is available by calling Spencer-Bibb Elementary School at 595-6915, or visit www.Familyservices.floridaearlylearning.com.