Frequently Asked Questions
What is Pre-Kindergarten?
Gaston County Schools Pre-Kindergarten program is proud to offer placement each year to approximately 900 four-year-olds. Classrooms are located in public school sites and in private childcare sites. Funding for the Pre-K program is provided by North Carolina’s Pre-Kindergarten program (NCPK) and also by Title 1 federal funds. Our goal is to provide enriching experiences and a solid foundation for all children as they begin their journey of lifelong learning.
Is there a fee for Pre-Kindergarten?
There is no fee for the Pre-Kindergarten program. Pre-Kindergarten children eat both breakfast and lunch at school. Some families in public childcare sites may be eligible for free or reduced meal prices. Children placed in private childcare Pre-K sites are not required to pay meal costs.
What is the Pre-Kindergarten program schedule?
Pre-K classes follow the Gaston County Schools calendar but typically begin a staggered schedule a few days after the K-12 students begin. The exact date will be provided by your child’s teacher. Pre-K children attend from approximately 7:30 a.m.- 2:00 p.m (exact times may vary by site).
What is required to apply?
Children must meet the following criteria in order to be considered for placement in a Pre-K classroom:
The child must:
• reside in Gaston County
• be four years old on or before August 31, 2023
• have a certified birth certificate, income verification for parents/step-parents living in the child’s home, two proof of address documents, a recent physical examination (including dental screening), immunization record and Pre-K application on file
May I apply for more than one Pre-K site?
Eligible children will be placed in their home school district or a nearby private site location. If the home school does not have a Pre-K class, children will be placed in a nearby private site location. Children placed outside of their home school must be able to provide transportation to those locations. If a child is already receiving childcare at one of our private site locations, the family may request placement there.
If you have questions about which school district you live in, you can locate it here: http://gcs-ss-webquery.gaston.k12.nc.us/eduweb/webquery/
How do I know if my child is eligible to participate?
The child must be four years old on or before August 31st of the program year. A child that meets the age requirement is eligible for NC Pre-K if the child is from a family whose gross income is at or below 75% of the State Median Income (SMI). Children of certain military families are also eligible without regard to income. In addition, up to 20% of age-eligible children enrolled may have family incomes in excess of 75% SMI if they have documented risk factors in specific categories including developmental disability, Limited English Proficiency, educational need, or chronic health condition.
Although a child may meet one or more eligibility factors, placement is not guaranteed in an NC Pre-K classroom. Waiting lists exist in counties when funding is not sufficient to serve all eligible children.
Eligibility for Families at or below 75% of State Median Income
Income eligibility for the NC Pre-K Program is determined by family size and gross income.
When will families be notified about Pre-K placement?
The Pre-Kindergarten Services office will notify families about Pre-K placement by mid-June if they apply during the first round of application. The first application period begins in mid-January and closes May 1. Families may continue to apply after that date but they will be in the second round of placement. All families who make an application should receive an email advising them of their child’s placement in a Pre-K classroom, placement on a waiting list, or notification of ineligibility. Families should always have an alternate plan of care for their child in the event that Pre-K placement is not available. If a child is placed on a waiting list, it is important to notify the Pre-Kindergarten Services office of any change in address or telephone number.
What is the curriculum used in the Pre-K program?
All classrooms use The Creative Curriculum, a developmentally appropriate curriculum that emphasizes teaching the whole child through the areas of Social-Emotional, Physical, Language, Cognitive, Literacy, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Social Studies, and The Arts.
What does a Pre-K classroom look like?
The Pre-K classroom should be a bright and busy place! There are many interest centers including blocks, dramatic play, toys and games, art, library, discovery, sand and water, music and movement, and computers, just to name a few. You will not find children sitting at desks or working with worksheets, because we know that is not how young children learn best. You will find lots of planned activities and “intentional teaching” occurring every day. Did you know that playing with "playdoh" helps strengthen little fingers in preparation to become good writers? The teaching staff will introduce and share literacy and math concepts in ways that make sense to the children. Hands-on experiences are very important to young children as they develop in all domains. One of our many goals is to have a child leave Pre-K feeling confident and competent!
How can families be involved in the Pre-K year?
Family involvement is one of the most important components of school success. We use a family engagement program called ReadyRosie. Pre-K families are encouraged to visit the classroom, join the class on field trips, have lunch with their child, and be a member of the Pre-K Family Advisory Council. Families may also participate in school-level activities and organizations such as the PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization). At home, Pre-K families are asked to read and talk with their children every day.