Does it seem like just yesterday that you brought home your tiny bundle of joy? Believe it or not, school is right around the corner! Whether she has been in childcare since infancy or will be leaving the nest for the first time, the thought of sending your child to preschool or kindergarten likely has you feeling excited, proud, and maybe even a little scared. Let GrowSmart help – we can assist in evaluating your preschool options, letting you know what will be expected of your child, providing resources for skill development, and making sure both of you are ready for that first day of kindergarten.
Now that your little one is getting ready for his first school experience, both of you may be experiencing mixed feelings. Among parents’ most common concerns is how their children “measure up” against other kids their age. This is perfectly normal. While it is important to remember that every child is unique and may develop slightly faster or more slowly than his peers, development occurs in a predictable order. Regularly checking on your child’s development with a reliable tool can help you make sure he is meeting his milestones in a timely manner. It can also alert you to any potential delays so you can address them as soon as possible. Many children found to be “at risk” for developmental delays respond extremely well to early interventions and go on to develop on track with their peers. But early screening is important, because the sooner a potential problem is identified, the sooner you can take action to get your child the resources and support he may need.
A reliable tool for developmental screening that has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics is the ASQ, or Ages and Stages Questionnaires®. These questionnaires are available at multiple stages from birth to age 5. They ask easy-to-understand questions about things your child can and cannot do in the areas of communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and personal-social. Use of the ASQ can help parents, doctors, caregivers, and teachers of young children track children’s development and identify and address any potential concerns.
The best thing to do is share the results of the screening with your child’s doctor or healthcare professional. He or she can make recommendations about interventions you can try at home, or refer you to community services that may be available to assist you in supporting your child’s development. If your child is age 3 or under, you can also call Virginia Beach’s Infant & Toddler Connection at (757) 385-4400. Children ages 3 and older may be eligible for free diagnostic assessment and services through the Parent Support and Information Center of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. They can be reached by phone at: (757) 263-2066.
The Ages and Stages Questionnaires are intended for use with children ages 0-5 years. If your child is age 6 or older, talk to her doctor and/or teacher about any concerns you have with her development.
Selecting a preschool for your child is an important decision. Not only do you want to ensure she will be safe and engaged in learning, but you also want her to have an opportunity to make friends, become more independent, and learn essential skills she will eventually need in kindergarten and beyond. The preschool years represent a time when a great deal of cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development takes place. We have provided the information on this page to help you select the best possible preschool environment for your child.
A preschool may be classified as a licensed Child Day Center by the Virginia Department of Social Services. State licensing standards cover the basics of health and safety for Child Day Centers, including legal ratios of children to teachers. For two-year-olds, the required ratio is one teacher per every eight children. For three, four, and five-year-olds, the ratio is one teacher per every ten children. Look for an up-to-date license on display. You can also visit the Virginia Department of Social Services (DSS) website for information on a program’s licensure violations.
If the preschool is operated by an accredited private school, it may be exempt from licensure. The private school must be accredited by an organization that is approved by the Virginia Council for Private Education (VCPE) Commission on Accreditation in order to be recognized by the Virginia State Board of Education. The affiliated preschool is then deemed to be a Certified Preschool and does need a license but must submit certain paperwork to the Virginia Department of Social Services annually.
Preschool programs operated by churches and religious organizations may also be exempted from licensure but still must follow certain guidelines and file paperwork with DSS. These are Religious Exempt Child Day Centers.
Some parents want a more intimate learning environment for their preschoolers. They may choose to enroll their children in Family Day Homes, which are childcare centers or preschools that individuals operate out of their homes. Family Day Homes may be licensed by DSS, or they may forego licensure (provided they do not care for more than 5 children) and voluntarily register with the Department.
The Virginia Department of Social Services has a search tool that enables you to search for a program based on type (Child Day center, Certified Preschool, Religious Exempt Child Day Center, Family Day Home) and geographic location.
In addition to the many different types of preschool settings available in Virginia, vast differences in curriculum, learning environment, teacher qualifications, and educational philosophies exist among preschool programs. So, how do parents sift through it all and choose the best preschool for their children? One way to evaluate the quality of a preschool program in Virginia is to find out if it participates in the Virginia Star Quality Initiative, or VSQI. Below you can search for programs in Virginia Beach that participate in this program. In addition to this statewide quality initiative, national organizations such as NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), AdvancED, NLSA (National Lutheran School Accreditation), and ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International), offer paths to national accreditation based on that organization’s standards of quality.
Whether a program participates in a quality initiative or is nationally accredited, there is no substitute for parents’ judgment about the quality of a preschool environment and whether it is a good “fit” for their child. Visit potential preschools and be prepared to ask questions about what your child will learn and how he will spend his time each day. Read our Guidelines for Evaluating Quality to help you know the right questions to ask.
The Virginia Beach Department of Human Services (VBDHS) provides financial assistance for child care to eligible families. The Child Care Program was designed to help families become economically self-sufficient while providing parental care, protection, guidance, and early childhood education. Parents or caretakers of children under the age of 13 who are working, receiving agency approved education/training or participating in one of the agency's employment services programs may qualify for financial assistance. Some categories of child care require a copayment. That amount depends on your family income and the number of individuals in your household.
There may be a waiting list for some child care services. If this is the case, your name will be added to a waiting list, and you will be contacted when services are available.
Not sure if you qualify for financial assistance? Call (757) 437-3351.
The VBDHS refers its customers to child care centers and home providers that have been licensed by the Eastern Regional Office of the State Department of Social Services (757) 491-3990 or to those voluntarily registered by The Planning Council in Norfolk (757) 622-9268.
Preparing your child for kindergarten begins long before the weeks immediately leading up to the first day of school. Of course, parents need to make sure children have the necessary school records and vaccinations and get them registered well before the start of the school year. But you can do much more to ensure your child has a successful start to her academic career. Through daily reading, talking, singing, writing, and playing with your child in the first five years, you will set her up for success throughout her lifetime.
Read more below about how you can best get your child ready for kindergarten. You will also find important information on registration dates and procedures, required immunizations, school records, and testing.
Looking for more information about Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ Kindergarten Program? Learn more...
Do you have a preschooler that’s getting ready to enter kindergarten at a Virginia Beach City Public Schools elementary school?
Use this handy checklist as a guide. Make sure to bring:
Virginia Beach City Public Schools morning kindergartners may purchase a nutritious breakfast and afternoon kindergartners may purchase a nutritious lunch. View Virginia Beach City Public Schools lunch menus here. Follow the link for "Elementary Schools."
: Bringing together City, Schools, and the Community for
a common mission.
GrowSmart’s mission is to promote and improve the
healthy development, school readiness, and reading
proficiency of young children, ages 0-8, in Virginia
This site was designed to provide information and resources for Virginia Beach parents, caregivers,and teachers of young children, ages 0-8.
The site is also intended for our community stakeholders who wish to find out more about the City of Virginia Beach’s early learning efforts and how you can get involved.
Address: 4525 Main Street Suite 700 Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Phone: (757) 385-0144
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| The City of Virginia Beach