New Law Changes Entry Date, Creates Transitional Kindergarten
12.21.2011 | Capital Public Radio | Jenny O’Mara
Starting next year, California kindergartners must be five years old by November 1st to start public school. The age change will continue to phase in and in 2014, kindergartners will have to be five by September 1st. Democratic State Senator Joe Simitian wrote the law. He says kindergarten these days is more rigorous-with higher expectations. He says the current requirement-five by December-has left too many kids struggling.
“Too many of these young fives are repeating a grade, sometime between k-through-3, too many of these young fives are unnecessarily placed in special education.”
Since four-year-olds will be ineligible for kindergarten the new law also created a “transitional kindergarten”. Scott Moore is with the group Preschool California, a non-profit organization that supported the legislation. His organization offers help to school districts with the new program.
“It’s like a new grade for four year olds.”
Moore calls this new class “the gift of time” for young kids-to help them learn what they’ll need to be successful.
“Sitting at circle time, following three-step directions, being able to really learn those life skills, I think that is what educators know is critical for children to be ready.”
Moore says the change will ultimately affect more than 120-thousand four-year-olds who start school each year. And Senator Simitian notes the legislation gives parents a choice. Kids don’t have to attend or parents can petition to have their kids enter regular kindergarten.