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. 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 with the exception of meal costs at some public school sites. Pre-Kindergarten children eat both breakfast and lunch at school. Full price for both meals is approximately $19/week. Families are encouraged to complete applications for free or reduced meals. All families are expected to pay full price for meals while applications for free/reduced meals are being reviewed.
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 will begin the week of August 31, 2020 on a staggered schedule and will then follow Gaston County Schools calendar. Pre-K children attend from approximately 8:00 a.m.- 2:30 p.m (exact times may vary by site). Your child's teacher will communicate with you about the start schedule.
Screening and Selection of Children:
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, 2020
• 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 are children selected for Pre-K?
Eligibility for participation in the Pre-K program is determined through several factors including the administration of the Brigance Early Childhood Screening, family size and income*, and parent survey. Children who show that they would benefit the most are placed first, and priority is also given to those children who have received no prior early education service outside the home. Placements continue until all spaces are filled. Pre-K is fully inclusive, some spaces are reserved for children who have disabilities but have not participated in the screening.
*NCPK Program Requirements and Guidance:
A child that meets the age requirements 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 level.
Eligibility for Families at or below 75% of State Median Income
Income eligibility for NC Pre-K is determined by family size and gross income
75% State Median Income
Effective: January 1, 2019
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (2013-2017)
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. All families who make application should receive an email or letter advising them of their child’s placement in a Pre-K classroom or placement on a waiting list. 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 the 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. Pre-K families are encouraged to visit in 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 child every day.
Can a Pre-K child ride the school bus?
Transportation on a school bus is provided for the Pre-K children attending a public school site and living in the designated school districts. The children ride on the buses with other children who attend the same school.
Families of Pre-K children attending Pre-K sites outside of their assigned attendance district are required to provide transportation for them. Pre-K children attending classrooms in private childcare sites or at a Head Start are also expected to provide their own transportation or talk with the director of the private site about the possibility of transportation.