Kidstretch is a Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) classroom. VPI is a state initiative that provides access to high-quality preschool programs for 4-year-olds with eligible incomes. VPI programs such as ours support school readiness and success in kindergarten and beyond. Kidstretch students follow a state-approved, developmentally appropriate curriculum to address their learning needs. By participating in the VPI program, Kidstretch provides child screenings for hearing, vision, developmental, dental and mental health, as well as family engagement opportunities. All of our children ages three to five reap the benefits of participating in our VPI classroom.
Homestretch, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was founded in 1990 to help homeless families rebuild their lives. Homestretch is a comprehensive program offering subsidized transitional housing and support services aimed at helping families become self-sufficient. Their highly-valued Child Services Department links families to community resources. One service families need immediately is access to quality childcare programs which have a strong school readiness component.
The Child Services Department found that finding quality early childhood programs was very difficult for low-income families. Centers were frequently full and expensive; preschool programs such as Head Start had lengthy waiting lists. Some children were not exposed to a structured learning environment before they entered kindergarten! The Child Services Department knew that research showed children in poverty who do not attend high-quality preschool are more likely to struggle with delinquency, drop out of high school, and earn less than their peers as adults. With the help of many in the community, Homestretch opened Kidstretch in August 2012 to fill the gap so that children can get an early start on their education.
Almost all of the children we serve come from low to moderate-income families, most of whom are in Homestretch. Kidstretch is also open to the public and provides full-time care to children regardless of their economic status. We place a high value on diversity and believe that it is beneficial for children to interact with one another regardless of their economic, social, or religious backgrounds.
The Kidstretch mission is to empower children to develop the skills they need to build their own knowledge, prepare for the next school environment, and cultivate a love of lifelong learning.
Kidstretch teachers are highly motivated and love working with young children. Most hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Special Education, or a child-related field. Staff members are active on a Fairfax County School Readiness team and partner with professionals from Falls Church City Public Schools and Child Find. All teachers are required to participate in ongoing professional development.
Kidstretch engages in best practices in early childhood education. Our program goals:
- Connect with children and families to support growth across all areas of development in a safe, nurturing environment
- Explore children’s curiosity through hands-on learning and enrichment experiences to prepare for success in kindergarten and beyond
- Facilitate independence and responsibility through consistent classroom routines
- Encourage friendships and develop conflict-resolution skills
Inspire leadership skills through a mixed-age classroom
Kidstretch supports the relationship between children, their families, the preschool staff, and the community. Students actively participate in the community through partnerships that provide enrichment experiences. Our partnerships include:
- Monthly story time with Fairfax County’s Early Literacy Services and Falls Church City Public Library
- Physical education with Ignite Kids Club
- Performing arts with Wolf Trap’s Institute for Early Learning through the Arts
- Creative drama with Creative Cauldron
- Kidstretch also takes multiple field trips throughout the year. Students love trips to the local library, parks, farmhouse, Children’s Science Center, bowling alley, and an indoor playground for motor and movement classes.
Reading to Children Typical Day/Curriculum
Kidstretch teachers follow Creative Curriculum for Preschool. It is a comprehensive, research-based curriculum that encourages children to become creative, confident thinkers. The curriculum provides many opportunities for hands-on exploration and discovery of topics relevant to their everyday experiences. It is content-rich and well-suited for children with diverse backgrounds and skill levels. The Kidstretch learning environment is both fun and intentional, as teachers plan a mix of child-initiated and teacher-directed activities.
The Creative Curriculum objectives for child development and learning are aligned with state early learning guidelines and the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework. The objectives cover 10 areas of child development and content areas, which include:
- Science and Technology
- Social Studies
- The Arts
- English Language Acquisition
- 8:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Arrival/Morning Snack/Individual Choice Time*
- 9:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Group Circle Time including Read-Aloud and Music/Movement
- 10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Small Group Time/Individual Choice Time*
- 10:30 a.m. - 11:35 a.m.
Bathroom Break/Outdoor Play
- 11:45 p.m. - 12:15 p.m.
- 12:15 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.
- 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
- 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Bathroom Break/Outdoor Play
- 3:10 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
- 3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Group Circle Time including Read Aloud and Music/Movement
- 3:45 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Small Group Time or Science
- 4:15 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Individual Choice Time
*Individual Choice Time includes Art, Painting, Blocks, Dramatic Play, Games, Puzzles, Music/Movement, Books, Writing, Math Manipulatives, Fine Motor, and Science/Nature Exploration Center.
— Kidstretch Parent
— Anna Smith