Transitional kindergarten programs will start next fall

12.14.2011 | Ventura County Star

Should a 4-year-old start kindergarten?

Parents in California who have children with September through November birthdays mull over this question every school year.

Late last year, California enacted a new law, SB 1381 (Simitian, D-Palo Alto), called The Kindergarten Readiness Act, which moves up the state’s start date to September through a multi-year, phase-in requirement for local schools.

By the 2014-15 school year, only children 5 years old by Sept. 1 will be able to attend kindergarten.

This law also created a new program called “transitional kindergarten.” It is the first of a two-year kindergarten program. Those children born Sept. 2 through Dec. 2 will be eligible for this program in the year that they would otherwise enroll in kindergarten.

Beginning in the fall of 2012, the kindergarten entry date will move up by one month through 2014. For a child to enroll in kindergarten, he or she:

Must be 5 by Nov. 1 in 2012.

Must be 5 by Oct. 1 in 2013.

Must be 5 by Sept. 1 in 2014.

Transitional kindergarten will be available to those children who would have been able to attend kindergarten prior to the passage of SB 1381. However, school districts may open up registration to all students who turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2.

Currently, there are no standards for transitional kindergarten. This means that each school district will determine the curriculum guidelines for its own program. They are encouraged to use the California Kindergarten Content Standards and the California Preschool Learning Foundations as they develop their course of study. This grants school districts flexibility under the Kindergarten Readiness Act to create and adopt curricula that meets the unique needs of their student population.

Most likely, schools will teach the same skills they teach kindergarten students, but with more hands-on activities. These 4-year-olds will also not be expected to master the skills since they will have an additional year in kindergarten.

Parents are not required to enroll their children in transitional kindergarten and may choose to continue sending them to their preschool program of choice. However, it is important to remember that this will be a two-year program for students not eligible to enroll in kindergarten due the student’s birth month. However, students able to enroll in kindergarten whose parents choose to register them for transitional kindergarten may be able to progress to first grade at the end of the school year if the teacher and the school district approve.

Locally, many school districts are determining procedures on how to implement transitional kindergarten. In some districts, transitional kindergarten may only be at one of the district’s schools, while other districts may have it at several or all of their schools. In some school districts, this program may only be an afternoon program, at others a full day.

Most schools will begin kindergarten and transitional kindergarten registration the beginning of March 2012 for the 2012-13 school year. It would be best to check in with your local school in late January or the beginning of February.

In the meantime, parents can begin considering what will be best for their child. November 2007 birthdays can choose between transitional kindergarten or private preschool program. And those children with September 2007 through October 2007 birthdays can choose between transitional kindergarten and kindergarten.

— For questions related to this or any K-12 education issue, please contact the NBVC school liaison officer at 989-5211 or

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