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Preppy K program will prepare kids for kindergarten

04.20.2011 | Orange County Register | Maritza Velazquez

The Placentia-Yorba Linda School District this fall will kick off its new transitional kindergarten program aimed at preparing students for their first year of school.

The Preppy K program is being implemented under the Kindergarten Readiness Act, which gradually pushes back the cut-off date for children entering kindergarten by the 2014-15 school year. At that time, children must turn 5 by Sept. 1 to enroll in kindergarten. Currently, the date is Dec. 2, which means many children are 4 when they start school.

“The pacing will be different,” said Candy Plahy, assistant superintendent. “It will cover standards at a different pace with heavy emphasis on social and emotional growth. It’s basically preparing them for kindergarten.”

Preppy K will be offered at five district elementary schools – Fairmont, Travis, Brookhaven, Rose Drive and Van Buren. Ninety-five students enrolled in the program, but the district is still accepting applications, she said. Parents at schools in which the program is not offered will have the opportunity to enroll their children in one of the schools with Preppy K.

Transitional kindergarten programs will be required to be implemented at all district schools beginning in the 2012-13 school year. Funding for the program comes from the state Department of Education. Schools are allocated money for each student’s average daily attendance.

Jan Horton, a Fairmont Elementary School kindergarten teacher, praised the transitional program. It will better prepare students who are developmentally behind, or too young to start traditional kindergarten programs, which have become much more academically-focused, she said.

“You want them to have the confidence because the early years are so important in building the confidence of the child. They want to learn and you don’t want them to be frustrated over the fact that they can’t read something and maybe their neighbor can,” she said.

Although some students are 4 and others are 5, the age gap can still make a significant difference in students’ readiness for kindergarten, including their social and fine and gross motor skills, she said.

This is one concern for parent Carol Campagna, who plans to enroll her 4-year-old son in the Preppy K program this fall. He turns 5 on Sept. 21.

“When you have a child a year younger, socially I think that puts them at a disadvantage,” she said. “It makes me feel better that he’ll be with children his own age.”

The transitional kindergarten program will be taught by credentialed teachers, Plahy said.

“We just believe that this program is so educationally sound,” Plahy said. “We’re so excited because it’s good for students with the developmental pacing, and it’s also good with the gift of time to make sure when they hit the middle school years they’re ready.”

Contact the writer: Maritza.velazquez@csu.fullerton.edu

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