The new 3-year-old program at Canterbury School of Florida does not start until next school year.
But already parents are flocking to it with their little ones.
The idea of prep-school tuition for toddlers is not a deterrent either.
Hillary Heath signed up her daughter for next school year’s launch at the St. Petersburg preparatory school, which had taught students from pre-school (4 years old) to 12th grade, on two campuses.
Heath is new to the area and had tried two preschools. Neither was a good fit.
She is excited for her little one, Rose, to attend Canterbury’s three-year-old program next year.
“It was a no brainer for us,” said Heath. “Once we heard about it, we jumped on it.”
The program's flexibility may be part of the appeal. It is located on the Hough Campus, which is the Lower School, at 1200 Snell Isle Boulevard.
Since every child is at a different stage development wise, Canterbury is giving parents scheduling options.
Parents can choose to enroll for three or five days, which can be half or full.
Half days go from 8:10 a.m. until noon while full days start at 8:10 a.m. and run until 2:45 p.m.
“I really feel like Canterbury’s model for education is right on target with our mission, which is educating the whole child,” said Lower School Principal Nancie Hobby said.
The program has been molded over the course of two years. Hobby studied other three-year-old curriculums around the state to make the program as efficient as possible.
The three-year-old program is designed with an internal structure that is developmentally appropriate.
Music, movement, books and art are some of the key components. Canterbury’s new PK3 program will be teaching Spanish and Mandarin-Chinese.
Hobby, who has worked for the school since 1987, is confident that the program quickly will become a permanent piece of Canterbury’s structure for the future.
“We realized this was a need for our families,” said Hobby said. “And it felt like the time was right.”
Parents had asked about such a program for years. But the research and deliberation showed that the idea was not something the administration would take lightly.
School leaders wanted to make sure they could accommodate the learning needs of the children.
The time seemed right for adding a new program since both campuses are operating so well. Hobby said that for the first time in many years, every teacher at the Canterbury School of Florida is receiving a reissued contract.
“We finally feel like we have the right personnel in the right places,” said Hobby.
As for the new PK3 program, the lookout for the right fit has been narrowed down to three candidates, all of whom Hobby referred to as, “enthusiastic, young and full of positive energy.”
Canterbury School of Florida is still accepting applications for the three-year-old program.
Call the school at 727-525-1419 to set up a tour of the facility. Potential students must be three years of age by Sept. 1st and must be potty-trained.