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What’s the Difference Between VPK, Preschool and Early Learning Centers?

What's the Difference Between VPK, Preschool and Early Learning Centers

Deciding where to start your child’s educational journey is an important step for any parent. To help make your decision a little easier, we’re going to explain the difference between Voluntary Pre-K (VPK), preschool, and early learning centers. 

The Difference Between VPK and Preschool 

Preschool is for children who are around 2-4 years old. In preschool, the emphasis is on playful learning. Typical activities in preschool include reading stories, singing songs, playing independently, and conducting simple experiments. Children will strengthen their vocabulary, motor skills, and social skills. 

VPK, on the other hand, is for children from 4-5 years old. It is designed to build on what children learn in preschool and get them ready for kindergarten. There is more structure, and children will engage in deeper learning. The curriculum may incorporate science experiments, art projects, numbers and letters, and manners. VPK helps students get used to sitting for longer lengths of time, listening and following their teachers’ instructions, and working together with their peers. 

In Florida, VPK is a free program offered for all 4-year-olds. Parents can choose between a school year program or a summer program. School year programs are 540 hours, and class sizes are around 20. Summer programs are shorter, 300 hours, and have about 12 students. For more information about VPK in Florida, visit this site

What is an Early Learning Center?

An early learning center is a place like Bayside Discovery Center where we offer both preschool and VPK. Early learning centers don’t have to offer both, but we think that it is helpful for students to have a familiar location to attend for several years which is why we offer both preschool and VPK programs, as well as before- and after-care. At Bayside Discovery Center we believe in learning by doing and encourage children to get engaged in the learning process. 

In our preschool and VPK programs children can expect to learn about music, cooking, art, science, Spanish, and more. In addition to learning in the classroom, we have three playgrounds and go on several field trips. We have a literature-based curriculum and aim to help children improve their reading, writing, and motor skills. We value our relationship with children and their parents and want children to be excited about coming to school! 

90% of a child’s brain is already developed by the time they reach age five. Preschool and VPK are the perfect places for your child to learn, explore, and play during this critical time for learning. The curriculum and structure of these programs will ensure that your child has the skills they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. It is important to keep in mind your child’s age and development when considering preschool or VPK. Not all preschool-age children develop at the same rate. For example, some children may need to be placed in a younger class if their parents and teachers feel that it would be a better fit for them. 

Bayside Discovery Center is an early learning center in Palm Bay, Florida. When exploring preschool or VPK programs for your child, consider Bayside for a caring environment where they can grow and learn. Contact us for more information. 


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