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What does quality look like in Pre-K?

This legislative session, The Movement and our partners across Florida are advocating in Tallahassee for quality and accountability in early learning environments. One way we propose the state hit high-quality pre-k measures is by providing more funding for voluntary pre-k (VPK) students. The legislature calls this the “Base Student Allocation” or BSA.

The current BSA allots $2,437 per VPK student per year. For comparison’s sake, the state currently allocates $7,600 per student to kindergartners, just one year later. The Movement and our partners would like to see Florida raise the BSA to at least 50% of the K-12 rate. We are advocating to raise the VPK BSA to $3,800 over four years.

Each week, we are going to show you what quality looks like in Pre-K classrooms, and highlight how increased funding can contribute to quality. We invite you to advocate with us, talk to your friends, family, your children’s teachers and childcare providers. We hope this helps you advocate with us this legislative session, and that it helps state lawmakers see the difference an increase in the Base Student Allocation could make #ForFloridaChildren.

Books are not a luxury, they are essential for quality pre-k.

When you see a pre-k center with a wide variety of books, this is a sign of a high-quality center because reading and being read to early set children up for success as they continue their education.

It’s essential for centers to have a wide variety of books so that all students can read about different cultures and see themselves reflected in the material. Reading a wide variety of books also exposes children to a range of language features and vocabulary.

How would an increase in per-student funding help increase this quality measure? Books cost money!

If the state allocates an appropriate level of funding per pre-k student, early learning centers would be able to hit more quality measures.

Creative activities and the teachers who lead them are not a luxury, they are essential for quality pre-k.

When you see children’s art on the walls of a pre-k center, this is a sign of a high-quality center because it shows that children regularly engage in creative activities.

A classroom that encourages learning is joyful and friendly. A big part of making children feel at home and ready to learn is showcasing their art on the walls.

How would an increase in per-student funding help increase this quality measure? It costs money to hire teachers who know how to engage children creatively and make them feel at home!

If the state allocates an appropriate level of funding per pre-k student, early learning centers would be able to hit more quality measures.

Well-trained and well-paid teachers are not a luxury, they are essential for quality pre-k.

When pre-k teachers use a variety of teaching methods, this is a sign of a high-quality center because it takes into account the various learning styles, cultures, languages, and abilities of the center’s children and their families.

One child might learn well by doing, another might excel when shown how something works, another might learn best when they hear an explanation. High quality pre-k teachers know this and design their classes to address the needs of each of their students.

How would an increase in per-student funding help increase this quality measure? It costs money to hire teachers who have the training to incorporate multisensory, multilingual, and multicultural teaching styles!

If the state allocates an appropriate level of funding per pre-k student, early learning centers would be able to hit more quality measures.

Hands-on learning and the teachers who lead it are not a luxury, they are essential for quality pre-k.

Hands-on learning often occurs in centers– learning about science at a water station, spelling letters out in a sand station, or helping cook lunch and set the table in a kitchen.

When you see teachers encouraging hands-on learning at a pre-k center, this is a sign of a high-quality center because it strengthens children’s fine motor skills, increases their long-term memory, and makes learning fun.

How would an increase in per-student funding help increase this quality measure? The supplies needed to stock and replenish numerous centers cost money! It also costs money to hire educators who can help children understand the connection between their classroom and the outside world.

If the state allocates an appropriate level of funding per pre-k student, early learning centers would be able to hit more quality measures.

Engaging learning environments are not a luxury, they are essential for quality pre-k.

When children are happy and engaged in the activities at a pre-k center, this is a sign of a high-quality center because it shows that children are actively learning.

If an adult enters a pre-k classroom and children run to hug them this is not necessarily a good sign. It means that the children are looking elsewhere to be engaged.

If children are self-directed in their play and productive with their friends, this means they are learning important independence skills they will need in kindergarten.

How would an increase in per-student funding help increase this quality measure? It costs money to hire teachers who know how to create engaging learning environments and lessons!

If the state allocates an appropriate level of funding per pre-k student, early learning centers would be able to hit more quality measures.

Ample and appropriate outdoor play spaces are not a luxury, they are essential for quality pre-k.

When you see a pre-k center with ample and appropriate outdoor play space, this is a sign of a high-quality center because it shows that children regularly play outside.

Outdoor play is an important developmental experience for young children. Children who regularly play outside develop better immune systems, possess lower stress levels, and are given a chance to engage in more kinds of creative play.

How would an increase in per-student funding help increase this quality measure? Real estate costs money!

If the state allocates an appropriate level of funding per pre-k student, early learning centers would be able to hit more quality measures.

Safe, child-centered furniture and equipment are not a luxury, they are essential for quality pre-k.

When you see a pre-k center with furniture and playground equipment that is age-appropriate, clean, and in good condition, this is a sign of a high-quality center because it shows that children are safe and the focus of the classroom.

Chairs, tables and centers should be child height; bookshelves should be low; plugs should be covered; exits should be secured; and only non-toxic materials should be kept in the classroom cupboards and under the sinks.

How would an increase in per-student funding help increase this quality measure? It costs money keep furniture in safe condition!

If the state allocates an appropriate level of funding per pre-k student, early learning centers would be able to hit more quality measures.

Ensuring centers can hire engaged pre-k educators is not a luxury, it is essential for quality pre-k.

When you see pre-k teachers working with small groups of children, this is a sign of a high-quality center because it shows that the center has a high ratio of teachers to students.

A center with engaged teachers is able to provide a higher level of instruction. Teachers are better equipped to guide academic growth, model classroom behavior, and offer children tools for dealing with strong feelings.

How would an increase in per-student funding help increase this quality measure? It costs money to hire high-quality educators!

If the state allocates an appropriate level of funding per pre-k student, early learning centers would be able to hit more quality measures.

A culture of respect and the teachers who lead the way are not a luxury, they are essential for quality pre-k.

When staff at a pre-k center are respectful of children of all cultures, races, languages and abilities, this is a sign of a high-quality center because it shows that center invests in hiring well-trained, passionate educators, and cultivates a culture of respect.

When a pre-k center cultivates respect from the top-down, they create an environment in which children feel safe to learn and grow.

How would an increase in per-student funding help increase this quality measure? It costs money to hire well-trained teachers and provide training that creates a culture of respect!

If the state allocates an appropriate level of funding per pre-k student, early learning centers would be able to hit more quality measures.

Engaging centers and the teachers who lead them are not a luxury, they are essential for quality pre-k.

When you see a pre-k classroom designed around clear focus areas, called centers, this is a sign of a high-quality classroom because centers play an important role in children’s development.

Centers help kids grow their social skills and learn about themselves. Children learn time management, self-regulation and hone in on what their interests are through centers. Centers also help kids learn by allowing them to practice and make mistakes.

How would an increase in per-student funding help increase this quality measure? It costs money to hire teachers who are properly trained in early childhood education and to stock the centers!

If the state allocates an appropriate level of funding per pre-k student, early learning centers would be able to hit more quality measures.