Voluntary Pre-K Program


Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K Program is a state-funded educational program designed to prepare children for success in kindergarten. Pre-K classes are available in every eligible Tennessee school district. The program is specifically for 4-year-olds, with first priority given to those at risk for entering school ready to learn.

Why is Pre-K so important?

Studies show that the first five years of life are a time of incredible growth and development. And children who take part in quality early childhood education programs tend to:

  • Be better prepared for success in school
  • Develop better reading and language skills
  • Score higher on school-readiness tests
  • Learn more social skills
  • Have fewer behavior problems once they start school

What do children do in Pre-K?

The goal of every Tennessee Pre-K classroom is to instill a love of learning in all 4-year-olds, while helping them develop important academic and social skills.

Pre-K programs are designed to offer a wide range of learning experiences that cover all sorts of interests and abilities. Most classrooms are set up with several learning areas or “centers.” Each center includes age-appropriate books, learning materials and equipment.

These learning centers offer activities that help build important skills, including:

  • Language and reading
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social studies
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Physical development and health
  • Social or emotional skills

Teachers have been trained to work with children in various settings, offering individual attention, along with small and large group activities and instruction.

Is my child eligible for Tennessee’s Pre-K Program?

To be eligible for Tennessee’s Pre-K Program, children must be 4 years old on or before the same cutoff date set for children turning 5 to enter kindergarten of the current school year, and must live in the geographic region served by that program. Priority will be given to those children who qualify as economically disadvantaged or have other identified at-risk characteristics. Check with your public school district for more information on eligibility and registration.

In addition to meeting age and residency requirements, you will be expected to provide a birth certificate and proof of a current health exam. This includes all required immunizations, as well as vision and hearing screenings.


To learn more about the benefits of early childhood education and the history of the Voluntary Pre-K for Tennessee Initiative, visit the Department of Education Pre-K web page.