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Down to their level

01.03.2012 | Stockton Record | Keith Reid

STOCKTON – The cliche “everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” will need a minor edit for some children attending Lodi Unified schools later this year.

Some children will learn plenty of life lessons in a new transitional kindergarten class designed for those who will miss California’s new birthday deadline for entry into kindergarten.

In previous years, California children who turned 5 years old by Dec. 2 enrolled into kindergarten. A new law changes the birthday deadline to Sept. 1.

Lodi Unified is making the change over a three-year period. For 2012-13, children must be 5 years old by Nov. 1 to enroll into kindergarten.

Those who turn 5 on Nov. 2 or later could find benefit in transitional kindergarten, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Catherine Pennington said.

The program will provide students with a better knowledge of school structure, better communication and problem-solving skills, and their future is likely to hold stronger promise than if they entered kindergarten as a “young 5-year-old.”

Academics will be stronger in transitional kindergarten than in preschool.

“What transitional kindergarten will do is give more time in formal schooling for the youngest children,” said Pennington, adding that many children who turn 5 during their kindergarten year often struggle later in school. “Just a few months can make a big difference in learning.”

Lodi will begin its transitional kindergarten at two schools: Podesta Ranch Elementary in north Stockton and at Lawrence Elementary in Lodi. The goal, Pennington said, is to have enough students to fill two classes – one in the morning and one in the afternoon – at each school.

“I’m hoping it builds confidence, especially for the students,” Lawrence Principal Carlos Vilafana said. “It should be a real solid base for kindergarten. We want (the younger children) to hit the ground running when they get into kindergarten.”

How to enroll

• Parents who believe their children may be eligible for Lodi Unified’s new transitional kindergarten program can enroll during the district’s Kindergarten Round-up, being held at their neighborhood school between Jan. 30 and Feb. 9.

• Children who turn 5 between Nov. 1 and Dec. 1 in 2012 are eligible for the 2012-13 school year.

• For more information on your child’s eligibility, contact your local school or the district office at (209) 331-7257.

Contact reporter Keith Reid at (209) 546-8257 or kreid@recordnet.com. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/lodiblog.

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