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Moving on Up

As the school year draws to a close, parents, teachers and administrators are coming together to reflect on their children’s experiences in transitional kindergarten (TK). Transitional kindergarten was developed to give children the gift of time to build a strong foundation for life-long learning, and allows educators the flexibility to move students along the standards continuum, preparing them for a successful kindergarten year ahead.

Confident learners stem from TK classrooms that balance the kindergarten standards with a learning environment that allows children to mature socially and emotionally, and will provide them with the foundational tools they need for success in kindergarten and beyond. By this time of year, many TK students have mastered skills such as letter recognition and decoding, and will now be ready in kindergarten to further develop the comprehension and critical thinking skills that are emphasized in the Common Core Standards and will prepare them for success in the 21st century.

Teachers and administrators have reported that many TK students have assessment results that are comparable to kindergarten age children particularly in the areas of letter recognition and decoding, and have asked about promoting these children to 1st grade. Research has shown that beyond letter recognition and decoding, literacy success beyond the early elementary years requires mastery of language conventions and concepts, application of complex vocabulary, and the ability to analyze and reflect on text. When TK students transition to kindergarten, they will have opportunities to develop these higher-level skills and others, while building an even stronger foundation for ongoing school success.

We all marvel at the changes we have seen in our children in one year. It is a time to celebrate these accomplishments and welcome the new year ahead. Given the academic benefits of TK and kindergarten for transitional kindergarten children, school districts and families should carefully consider any decision to deny children the gift of time to build a strong foundation for life-long learning.

Points to Consider and Share as you Transition your TK Children

  • TK teachers, statewide, are reporting on the exciting growth and progress they have seen in their children this year. Both formal and informal assessment results support these reports.
  • This success affirms the intent of transitional kindergarten: giving children the gift of time to develop the deeper foundational skills necessary for school success, particularly in the areas of interactive language and social emotional development.
  • This new grade level provides children with the opportunities for acquiring more complex language and concept development while deepening comprehension skills that research indicates are essential in meeting the goals of the National Grade Level Reading Campaign.
  • Kindergarten teachers report how their instructional programs are enriched when children enter their classrooms from high quality preschool settings. The new cohort of children transitioning from the TK will now give kindergarten teachers an additional opportunity to enhance their curriculum in keeping with the new Common Core Standards.
  • TK students should not be denied their second year of kindergarten. Research has shown that beyond letter recognition and decoding, literacy success in third grade and beyond requires mastery of language conventions and concepts, application of complex vocabulary, and the ability to analyze and reflect on text. When TK students transition to kindergarten, they will have opportunities to develop these higher-level skills and others, while building an even stronger foundation for ongoing school success.


Contributing authors include Whit Hayslip, Early Childhood Education Consultant and former Assistant Superintendent of Early Childhood Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, and Elizabeth Magruder, Early Childhood Education consultant and teacher.

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