Registration Opens for New Preschool Year and VPK
March kicks off Preschool and VPK (Voluntary Prekindergarten) Registration at the Ministry Village Early Learning Center. If you or someone you know is looking for childcare, we want to help you make an informed decision, and we hope you will consider the Ministry Village ELC. With dozens of daycares and preschools to choose from in our area, not to mention in-home childcare and full-time nanny services, it can feel overwhelming to explore all of the options. And since many preschools operate with waiting lists, it’s never too early to start making decisions and getting your child registered for the coming school year.
The Florida Department of Children and Families (myflfamilies.com) and the Early Learning Coalition (elcescambia.org) are two local organizations that provide background information and recommendations on choosing childcare. Let’s look at a few guidelines and how the Ministry Village Early Learning Center stacks up.
A great deal of early learning research has focused on 3 primary areas shown to foster brain growth and development among infants and preschoolers. Those areas are environment, caregiver relationship and bonding, and interactivity. As you evaluate a childcare provider, think about how each of these areas is addressed in their program.
Much has been reported on the importance of a stable, nurturing and safe environment for a child. If a childcare provider is licensed, you can expect the center to meet certain health and safety standards – childproof locks, an appropriate amount of space for each child in the classroom and outdoor play areas, monitored entrances and exits, well-planned emergency procedures, etc. You should also expect staff members to be appropriately screened and carry the necessary training and certifications, including CPR and first-aid. Many in-home daycare situations are not licensed and therefore not required to meet these guidelines, so choose carefully.
The Ministry Village ELC meets all health and safety standards and maintains a clean and stimulating environment for every child in its care. In the infant classrooms, where children are crawling, rolling, and spending much of their active playtime on the floor, we have a “No Shoes” policy to keep the floor clean and safe. Our teachers have a staff credential, having earned either a Child Development Associate credential (CDA), Florida Child Care Professional Credential (FCCPC), and/or formal education and experience in childcare in the classroom. As a Christian preschool, our teachers also have a love for teaching the Bible, and they integrate biblical principles and values into every interaction with the children in their care through singing Bible songs, leading prayers and training them on Godly values like caring for their friends and treating others with respect and kindness.
Caregiver Relationship and Bonding
The relationship your child cultivates with those who care for him or her is vital to healthy development. Quality caregivers should be friendly and eager to care for children; be warm, understanding and responsive to each child’s individual needs; be attentive to and interact with the children; help the children manage their behavior in a constructive manner; and communicate effectively with parents. You should ensure that the program’s philosophy and guidelines on discipline correspond with yours. Caregivers should make it a priority to keep families informed on their child’s day and overall progress.
At the Ministry Village ELC, we strive to employ teachers and assistants who love what they do. Our teachers enjoy seeing each child achieve milestones. They work hard to build a bond with each child, providing the comfort and stability needed to reassure a child that he is safe and loved. Our teachers stay in close contact with parents to work together on development, and keep families informed of the child’s day-to-day activities. Each classroom has its own private Facebook group page where teachers post pictures and videos of the day’s activities. There, parents can see how their kids are spending the days and get a glimpse of those precious moments of smiles, naps and early steps.
Interactivity with a child is of utmost importance for encouraging development. It has been said that “daycares” watch children while “preschools” engage children. As you tour a preschool, watch how the teachers and staff interact with the children. Are they busy cleaning the room and doing tasks, or are they engaged with the kids, down on their level, talking and actually listening for a response? A quality childcare facility will provide a schedule with structured time to ensure that each part of the child’s day is accounted for. Free time should be part of the day, but not the whole day. There should be time for children to play together as a group, as well as time to play alone. Teachers should provide stimulating, interesting and educational activities to encourage the development of fine motor skills (which will be important for activities like writing in preschool) as well as gross motor skills (which will help kids learn to skip, jump rope and kick a ball). Infants should not be left in cribs or strapped into high chairs for long periods of time, but should instead have a designated schedule for tummy-time and floor play. Toys should be age-appropriate, in good condition, and stimulating to the imagination.
Each classroom at the Ministry Village ELC has a schedule for the day, providing children with the structure they need to feel secure and the freedom they need to thrive. Teachers sing songs and play games to keep kids entertained and engaged, and take them on buggy rides around the school grounds to enjoy the weather and search for birds and flowers. Each day also offers plenty of time to play on the interactive playground, both independently and together in groups. With a variety of toys, playhouses, balls and tricycles, the playground is a stimulating and exciting environment for the ELC kids to gain social interaction and entertain their imaginations. Quiet time and nap time are also scheduled into the day to give children the time they need to rest, relax and stay balanced.
The Ministry Village Early Learning Center (ministryvillageelc.org) is committed to delivering Christ-centered, high quality care to the children in our community. Our mission is to equip the youngest generation with the skills and processes they need to build a strong educational base, while welcoming every member of our community and ensuring that each one feels treasured, loved and supported. We hope you’ll find that the Ministry Village Early Learning Center can meet your needs and the high standards that we believe all children and families deserve.
- Enroll now! Ministry Village ELC is currently accepting enrollment for the 2021-2022 VPK school year, and spaces are available! Once you receive your child’s Certificate of Eligibility from the Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County, call us at (850) 378-8044 and schedule a time to register and take a tour! We’d love to meet you!
- VPK classes will begin mid-August, and VPK is free for Florida residents! For more information on VPK at the ELC, visit our website. The Early Coalition of Escambia County’s website (www.elcescambia.org) provides details on signing up for free Florida VPK.
- For more information on preschool rates and curriculum, visit our website at MinistryVillageELC.org.
- Follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/ministryvillageELC) for the latest news and information!
Ministry Village Early Learning Center
1724 E. Olive Road, Pensacola, FL 32514