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Date: August 2022
Going back to school is always a bit of a sticky transition, but this year there’s more to worry about, from teacher shortages to mask rules, than the usual concerns. On top of all that, there are many more children who will be going to transitional kindergarten, or TK, this year because of the expanded age guidelines. These children are younger than the usual TK cohort of almost 5-year-old children who just missed the cutoff for kindergarten.
Paula Merrigan, for one, is up for the challenge. A veteran early childhood educator with 15 years teaching kindergarten and TK in the Castro Valley Unified School District, she’s long been a champion of making transitional kindergarten, a steppingstone between preschool and kindergarten, available to more children.
The universal transitional kindergarten program is being gradually phased in until it includes all the state’s 4-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year. In the 2022–23 school year, children who will turn 5 between Sept. and Feb. 2 are eligible for TK. In the 2023–24 school year, children who will turn 5 between Sept. 2 and April 2 are eligible for TK.
Merrigan recently took a few minutes out from her back-to-school preparations to share some of her tips for parents on how to help their children get ready for TK this year.