Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten: Planting Seeds for Future Success!
The Voluntary Pre-kindergarten program is a state funded readiness program for at-risk children who are 4 years of age on August 15. “At risk” is defined by the state as economically disadvantaged. Due to state funding, there are limited classrooms available in Sumner County and priority placement is given to families that are economically disadvantaged or to children who have lost a parent due to war. Other “at-risk” factors may be used to determine eligibility may include, but are not limited to: English as a second language, foster care, social-emotional behaviors, and family/environmental factors. The Voluntary Pre-K program provides a foundation for learning and successful transition to the school environment.
- Voluntary Pre-K is designed to help children prepare for kindergarten and succeed in the school environment. The program serves children who will be 4 years of age on or before August 15. Children turning 5 on or before August 15th are not eligible for Voluntary Pre-K.
- Once school begins, all spots may be full. However, applications are accepted for the waiting list. Applications for the upcoming year will be available at the beginning of March. Families will be informed beginning in mid-June about acceptance or waitlist status.
George Whitten Elementary
J.W. Wiseman Elementary
Vena Stuart Elementary
I thought my zoned school had a Pre-K, but it is not one of the four listed under Voluntary Pre-K.
In Sumner County, Pre-K is not based on school of zone. While only six elementary schools have Voluntary Pre-K, others have Developmental Pre-K, which includes typical peers. The typical peer program places children without disabilities in the Developmental Pre-K classroom to support learning by being peer models. For more information about the typical peer program, see Developmental Pre-K.
Does my child have to be zoned for the school to which we apply?
No, in fact, if you live in Sumner County, you can apply for any of the Voluntary Pre-K programs. Since there are only six classrooms, there may not be one at your zoned elementary school. Some families prefer to send their child to the one closest to their home while others prefer to send their child to the one closest to the parent’s work. At the time of registration, families will be asked to provide proof of residence within Sumner County.
What are the hours and days of the Voluntary Pre-K class?
The Voluntary Pre-K class meets Monday through Friday for 6 hours. Voluntary Pre-K class follows the Sumner County Schools calendar, unless otherwise specified. Attendance is required for all five days each week, and families must agree to the Pre-K attendance policy before enrolling in Voluntary Pre-K. The hours for 2023 - 2024 are as follows:
George Whitten Elementary: 7:20-1:20
Guild Elementary: 7:35-1:35
J.W. Wiseman Elementary: 7:30-1:30
Millersville Elementary: 7:20-1:20
Vena Stuart Elementary: 7:20-1:20
Westmoreland Elementary: 7:45-1:45
The Application Process
Who may apply for the Voluntary Pre-K class?
Parents/Guardians of children who are 4 years of age on or before August 15 and are zoned for Sumner County Schools.
How do I apply for the Voluntary Pre-K program?
Families have several different options. During the spring and summer months, applications may be completed online in English or in Spanish. At the end of the online application, families will be asked to upload the required documents. Be sure to have these documents ready, as applications without the birth certificate, proof of income, and applicable supplementary documents, will be marked “incomplete” and will not be reviewed.
Year round, applications may be completed on paper and submitted to the Sumner County Board of Education or your local elementary school. If copies are needed of the documents, they can be brought to the address on the back of the application where the Office of Voluntary Pre-K will make copies for you.
What is the due date for the Voluntary Pre-K application?
Acceptance emails will begin being emailed mid-April. However, the Voluntary Pre-K Office will continue accepting students until all seats are filled. There are twenty seats per classroom. The goal is to fill all twenty seats with students who have financial need or who lost a parent as a direct result of war. Any students who do not meet this criterion will be placed in Group 2 or Group 3 of the waiting list. As the school year approaches, if seats remain unfilled, students in Group 2 will be called. Group 2 consists of students who have English as their second language or require special education services. If other seats remain, students in Group 3 will be called. Any application received without documentation verifying income and/or a copy of the child’s birth certificate will automatically be marked INCOMPLETE and will not be reviewed.
My child was put on the waiting list. What are the chances he will come off the waiting list to be enrolled in a class?
It depends on the waiting list group where your child was placed and can vary year to year. It is unlikely that any students in Group 3 will be placed on a class list. In most locations, the same is true for students placed in Group 2. For students in the priority Group 1, open spots become available when students move and relocate or decide to withdraw from the program for another reason. In the past, Millersville and Westmoreland have had the shortest waiting lists and Vena Stuart (Gallatin) has had the longest.
What happens after I turn in the application for my child?
After you submit your child/children’s application, it will be reviewed based on the eligibility guidelines set by the TN Department of Early Learning. You will receive an email with further information, letting you know whether the application is complete or incomplete. However, class lists will not be announced until mid-June. Please make sure your email address is correct and easy to read, as this will be the main source of communication from the Voluntary Pre-K Office.
When will I know if my child is accepted into the class?
The Voluntary Pre-K program is state funded, and notification of funding is not confirmed until the state grant is announced in late spring. All class placements will be determined in the summer, once funding has been secured. Families will be notified by EMAIL about their child’s status for the Voluntary Pre-K program. The email will state the school location their child has been selected to attend. Families will be able to confirm their acceptance to the class list or deny placement and participation in the program.
Families will also be notified if their child is not accepted and is placed on a waiting list. If a child is not accepted immediately and is placed on a waiting list, the application will be kept on file in the event of space becoming available at a later date.
Is it first come first served on the applications?
No, every application will be reviewed for eligibility, but all interested families are encouraged to turn in applications as soon as possible to be considered for enrollment. Students will be selected based on need and prioritized as such.
Will every applicant receive a spot in a classroom?
No, due to state regulations and teacher to child ratio, enrollment space is limited in each classroom. According to state guidelines for eligibility, priority placement is given to families of financial need or those who have lost a parent due to war. Once all children who qualify based on financial need have been placed, if additional space is available, additional applicants will be considered for placement. Each applicant is selected for placement based on his/her specific child/family need.
What will I ned to have for enrollment if my child is accepted into the program?
If your child is accepted into a Pre-Kindergarten program, your acceptance letter will notify you of enrollment dates and procedures. You will need the following documents to enroll your child into the school.
- An official copy of your child’s birth certificate (be sure it is not the mother’s copy)
- The Tennessee State Health and Immunization Record and can be obtained from your child’s doctor or the Sumner County Health Department
- Two proofs of residency in Sumner County. These include: Gas, Water, or Electric Bills.
- If you are living with relatives or another resident of Sumner County, you will need to complete additional documents to prove your residence in Sumner County as well as provide residency documents listed above in the Sumner County resident’s name.
- All custody information including legal custody agreements and Parenting Plans, if applicable to your family.
Voluntary Pre-K Rules and Procedures
Since this is Pre-K, does my child need to attend every day?
Yes, all children enrolled in a Voluntary Pre-K class are required to attend every day and those that do not attend daily will be removed from the program to allow another student on the waiting list to attend. Attendance is very important for a successful year of learning. Your child is expected to attend school EVERY DAY and ON TIME unless he/she has a temperature or is showing other symptoms of a contagious illness. Daily attendance, including tardiness/early dismissal, is reported and recorded in the school’s system and reported to the State Department of Education, just as children in grades K-12.
Is transportation provided for the Voluntary Pre-K program? My child wants to ride the school bus.
No, buses are not provided. Families will be responsible for bringing and picking up their child each day.
Is there a cost for this program?
No, there is not a weekly or monthly cost for Voluntary Pre-K. There may be a cost for breakfast and lunch. A form from the cafeteria will need to be filled out once school starts to see if your family qualifies for the free or reduced breakfast and lunch. School supplies are also provided for your child. In addition, field trips will be provided for free for students in the Voluntary Pre-K class.
Is before/after school care available for my child?
Unfortunately, before and after school care is not available for Voluntary Pre-K students at this time.
Additional Rules and Procedures can be found in the Parent Handbook
What curriculum is used in the Voluntary Pre-K classroom?
Teachers use Connect4Learning as the primary curriculum. “Effective family engagement is an important part of C4L. The curriculum includes special events to invite families into the classroom, so children can share what they are learning and experiencing. C4L's Online Portal is a valuable communication tool for families to use to keep track of children's progress. When families have up-to-date knowledge of what their children are exploring at school, they are more likely to continue the learning at home.”
In addition, Voluntary Pre-K classrooms use “Keeping Kids Safe” to teach personal safety. “Keeping Kids Safe” takes a holistic approach to the safety of children. The curriculum is composed of the following 6 Units ¨ Self Esteem ¨Family and Friends ¨ Feelings ¨ Problem Solving ¨ Personal Safety ¨ Safety Around Me. All sessions begin with Group Time. Spot, the Dalmatian, sometimes introduces story time and gathers children to the story area. Following the story is a list of supplementary activities that give children practice in understanding the concepts. Each classroom will offer two parent sessions aligned to the “Keeping Kids Safe” curriculum for families, including “Communication” and “Child Abuse”.
What if I have questions about Voluntary Pre-K?
If you have questions about Voluntary Pre-K before enrolling in the program, it is best to reach out to the Office of Voluntary Pre-K. Once enrolled, families are encouraged to communicate directly with teachers. If a concern arises that cannot be agreed upon with the teacher, the school principal is available to answer questions and resolve any unanswered challenges.
If you have questions about the Developmental Pre-K, please call 615-451-6352.