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New program designed to help kindergartners

08.23.2012 | Register Pajaronian | Todd Guild

WATSONVILLE — The money is there, the kids are ready and Pajaro Valley Unified School District educators are scrambling to prepare for transitional kindergarten, a state program designed to give younger students a running start for their first year of school.

The PVUSD board of trustees heard a presentation Wednesday night about the upcoming program.

When it starts on October 15, Mar Vista, Mintie White, Landmark and possibly Hall District elementary schools will have transitional kindergarten classes, which are designed for students who don’t turn 5 before school starts but will soon thereafter.

Program organizers say that kindergarten is more academically challenging than in years past, similar to what first grade used to be.

As a result, younger children are at risk of struggling academically and socially.

The program is a “bridge between preschool and kindergarten,” for students developmentally unprepared for school, said Kathy Lathrop, PVUSD director of early childhood development and director of the transitional kindergarten program.

“The program gives the younger children an extra year to get ready for kindergarten,” Lathrop said.

This year, only kids born in November will be admitted to the program, but in following years students born in September will also be included.

Transitional kindergarten is the first year of a two-year program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum.

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