VPK Standards

The VPK Education Standards reflect the latest research on child development and developmentally appropriate practices for four-year-old children. VPK Education Standards can be used to help children of different backgrounds, abilities, temperaments, and interests to learn and develop. The following will introduce you to eight *domains* of development that are included in the VPK Education Standards, which are the are the guidelines that describe what children should know and be able to do at the end of the VPK year.

Physical Health

Physical health and learning go hand-in-hand. Physical health impacts every aspect of development. With their increased coordination, balance, and strength, four-year-old children are great explorers of their environments. They are able to accept learning challenges that were out of their reach just a few short months ago. When children are physically active and healthy, their social well-being is enhanced. By using their bodies to move, act, and react, children gain self-confidence. Their vision and hearing skills are refined in ways that facilitate language learning. They are also developing skills that enable them to be active partners in managing their health, safety, and physical fitness.

Approaches to Learning

Approaches to Learning is not about specific knowledge content or skills. It is about how the child learns new skills. Some four-year-olds seem to be bursting with the desire to explore and accept new challenges, while others need more structure and encouragement when trying new things. The role of teachers, parents, and other adults should be to provide opportunities for success. All children, regardless of learning style or special needs, can learn and be successful.

Social and Emotional Development

Social and emotional readiness is critical to a child*s successful transition to kindergarten. Young children who are able to understand and express their own feelings, understand the viewpoint and feelings of others, cooperate with peers and adults, and resolve conflicts, are more likely to be successful in school. Positive relationships with adults lead to positive relationships with peers.

Language and Communication

When placed in environments that are rich in language, new experiences, and conversation, children develop skills in understanding what others say to them and in using spoken language to express their own ideas and experiences.

Emergent Literacy

Learning to read and learning to write are among children*s most important achievements. These skills open the door to a world of learning, discovery, and creativity. Children who have early experiences with books and other forms of print (e.g., recipes and road signs) are more likely to come to school excited about learning to read and write.

Mathematical and Scientific Thinking

Mathematical and Scientific Thinking involves the skills and strategies that children use to explore and learn about their world. Children begin to count, sort and manipulate sets of objects. Children also begin to identify and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes and to explore symmetry as they work with blocks and other concrete objects. The natural world and physical events are fascinating to four-year-old children. When adults respond to children*s questions, inquisitiveness and scientific thinking are fostered.

Social Studies and The Arts

Prekindergarten children demonstrate knowledge of social studies by identifying attributes of familiar people and understanding family roles and relationships. They are developing new ways of examining and noticing places and the environment. Group rules are becoming easier to understand and follow, and four-year-old children have a beginning understanding of leadership.

Motor Development

Four-year-old children love to move, and their increasing coordination and motor skills open up new opportunities for active exploration of their environment. Research and experience confirm that free play alone is not sufficient for the development of physical skills; planned movement activities are needed. Exposure to many different types of movements should be the goal, rather than high performance in particular skills.