Is Pre-K Free in Mecklenburg County?

Is Pre-K Free in Mecklenburg County?

If you’re a parent looking for a high quality pre-K program for your child, you may wonder, “Is pre-K free?”

The early years of a child’s life are among the most important for their development and growth. And free pre-K makes it easier to give your child or children the head start they need on their educational journey.

Fortunately, North Carolina offers free pre-K for many families in the state. In Mecklenburg County, eligible families can enroll in a high quality, free pre-K program, MECK Pre-K.

This article will share more about the free pre-K program in Mecklenburg County, NC, including who is eligible for the program, information on when you should send your child to pre-K, and an overview of the advantages a pre-K education can provide.

How Long is a Pre-K Day?

So, how many hours does a pre-K day last? Pre-K programs vary, and may have different lengths. While some programs last a half day or about three to four hours, others have full-day options to accommodate children and parents.

For instance, options like MECK Pre-K in Mecklenburg County, NC, offer a 6.5 hours-per-day pre-K program for children. This day includes activities such as teacher-led small groups to work on specific skills, intentionally designed learning centers that children can choose from, outside physical play, snack time, story times, lunch, quiet time and large group learning through songs, word play and games.

This 6.5-hour period covers essential aspects to help your child get excited about learning. From teacher-led activities to social interactions with peers, no time is wasted in the MECK Pre-K day.

Is Pre-K Free in NC?

In Mecklenburg County, free pre-K is offered to all children who meet the age and residency requirements. Mecklenburg County funds this pre-K program, which is administered by Smart Start of Mecklenburg County.

While the program is free, be aware that you may need to pay for transportation and before- or after-care. You’ll have an opportunity to look for these additional options when you apply.

Who is eligible to attend free pre-K in Mecklenburg County?

Your child must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the free pre-K program.

  • All children must live in Mecklenburg County.
  • Your child must be four years old by August 31 of that school year.

During the application process, you will need to provide information and documentation to verify age and residency.

When Should I Send My Child to Pre-K?

Generally, the age for pre-K is between three and five years old. In Mecklenburg County, children must be four years old by August 31 of that school year. However, as a parent, you may be unsure if it’s the right time to send your child to pre-K.

A few signs that your child is ready for a pre-K program include the following:

  • Able to follow directions.
  • Can adjust to being away from home.
  • Some ability to focus on a task.
  • Interested in socializing with other children
  • Basic self-care skills, including potty-trained.

Why Should I Send My Child to Pre-K?

The foundation created in a high quality pre-K program prepares children for the demands of life — not just in the short-term as they succeed in school, but also in the long-term as they grow up, become employed, and contribute to the strength of the community.

Your child will benefit from a pre-K program by experiencing growth in the following areas.

  • Social and emotional skills.
  • Mathematical and scientific thinking.
  • Language and literacy abilities.
  • The joy of learning.

Are you looking for free pre-K? Contact MECK Pre-K Today!

MECK Pre-K is high quality free pre-K education open to all four-year-old children in Mecklenburg County. Classrooms are located in licensed child care centers and taught by licensed teachers and highly qualified assistant teachers. MECK Pre-K is administered by Smart Start of Mecklenburg County and funded by Mecklenburg County.

Do you have a child who is not old enough for pre-K this year? Sign up for our email list and be notified when they’re eligible for MECK Pre-K. Simply go to and select your child’s age group.