Our View: Smooth implementation of transitional kindergarten a positive sign

08.10.2012 | Imperial Valley Press Online

While it had been evident for a majority of teachers and administrators for quite some time that younger kindergarten children were often the ones struggling the most in class, it wasn’t until a few years ago that former Gov. Schwarzenegger signed into law the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010.

The law created a two-year kindergarten experience for students who turn 5 years old between September and December. It also changed the kindergarten entry date from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1, so that children enter at the age of 5. This is the first year of the law’s three-year implementation, with the entry date set to roll back a month, starting with November, each year until it settles on a Sept. 1 cutoff date.

Younger children will spend a year in the transitional setting, followed by a year of traditional kindergarten. As many educators and parents alike can confirm, the rigors of kindergarten, which in our standards-obsessed education system now resemble the first grade of a generation ago, sometimes proved to be too much for some of the younger students.

The transitional class is intended to provide an age-appropriate curriculum that is aimed at fostering the social-emotional development of the young students. Such a focus, used in conjunction with traditional kindergarten curriculum, is expected to play a large part in the eventual academic success of these students. For this reason there hadn’t seemed to be hardly any detractors of the new law, and we can only express hope that the reform will bring about positive results locally. 

Here in the Valley, school administrators seemed to have prepared diligently for its implementation. Since the students being enrolled in the transitional classes are the same students that the school districts would have been serving — the exact same children, in fact — there are not too many additional expenses placed on the districts.

Parents might also like that transitional kindergarten students in some districts will have the option of enrolling in the traditional classroom setting if school officials determine that the child has shown enough academic progress. 

Despite some district officials’ uncertainty regarding the transitional class’ ultimate look and feel, all seemed content with its intended aim. One word heard over and over that would sum up what Valley educators said they are feeling in advance of its implementation was “excited.” Considering the promise that the transitional classes hold, we too feel the same way.

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