East Whittier City School District prepares transitional kindergarten program
04.28.2012 | Whittier Daily News | Mike Sprague
WHITTIER – A different kind of kindergarten will be in the works for the youngest of the students next year in the East Whittier City School District.
The district – like most in the state – no longer will be offering kindergarten classes to youngsters born from Nov. 1-30.
But there will be a three-hour class, called transitional kindergarten, that will be offered at every school. The Board of Education approved the plans last Tuesday.
“We’re doing what we call a hybrid model,” said Dorka Duron, assistant superintendent of educational support services.
It will be a combination class in that the students who are too young for regular kindergarten will be in the same room with the older students.
An estimated 80 to 90 students in the district are expected to be affected by the new state law changing when students can start school.
During the 2012-13 school year, a child’s fifth birthday must come before Nov. 1, instead of the traditional Dec. 2.
In the fall of 2013, the entrance date will change to Oct. 1 and then in the fall of 2014 it will be Sept. 1.
When S.B. 1381 was passed in 2010, the new law was intended to keep younger kids from entering school before they’re emotionally mature enough to handle it and save $700 million, state officials said.
Now, districts like East Whittier have been preparing their transitional kindergarten programs.
East Whittier created a committee of kindergarten teachers from all 10 of its elementary schools to put together a program.
The new program will help the younger students who may not be ready for a full day in school.
“When you’re a 4-year-old child, some have it and some do not,” Duron said.
“It isn’t so much of a learning issue, it’s a maturity issue,” she said. “Kids don’t all mature at the same time. They don’t walk at the same time and language comes in differently.”
One of the committee members, Megan Carrillo, a kindergarten teacher for the 11 years at La Colima Elementary School, said she’s looking forward to the program.
“I’m excited about working with the younger students and getting them ready for kindergarten,” Carrillo said.
The three-hour program will involve many of the same kindergarten standards – learning the alphabet and how to count and taking the first steps toward reading – but at a slower level.
“We’re going to really try a lot more hands-on activities with these students,” Carrillo said.
“There will be more learning by doing and less use of the paper and pencil,” she said. “They don’t have to write everything. Maybe they’ll write the letters in jello or sand.”
Rebekah Barrios, a kindergarten teacher at Evergreen Elementary School for the last four years, said she isn’t worried about having a combination class of regular-age kindergartners and the younger ones.
One reason is the transitional kindergarten students will be in school for only three hours in the morning.
In the afternoon, there will be less kindergarten students to teach.
When the younger students are gone, the older ones will get the core curriculum, Barrios said.
A typical East Whittier district kindergarten class has 23 students.
At each of the 10 elementary schools, there will be one combination class. But Duron said she’s still unsure how many of the younger students they will get.
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