Transitional kindergarten growing in Cambrian, Union School districts

10.29.2014 | San Jose Mercury News | Carol Rosen

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Transitional kindergarten is growing throughout Silicon Valley. As it moved into its third year this August, enrollment throughout the region grew at schools in the Union and Cambrian districts.

TK classes are designed for children whose birthdays are from Sept. 2 to Dec. 2. In years past these students would enter kindergarten after turning 5. Now these students are being prepared for kindergarten by integrating social play with academics on a lesser scale than in kindergarten.

This year Union added a fourth class for its 84 TK students. The students fit into four classes; two a.m. classes of 20 and 21 students and two afternoon classes of 19 and 24. All TK students spend the same amount of class time as the kindergartens in their district.

Cambrian’s enrollment jumped to 70 students this year, up from 45 in 2013-14. Those students have settled into 3½ classes, all from 8:12 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are 21, 20 and 18 students in three of the classes and 11 in the combination TK and kindergarten class.

The major thrust is low stress academics combined with social activities. Cambrian TK teachers customize the learning lessons based on the developmental ages of the students, says Carrie Andrews, interim superintendent for the district.

“Our students are engaged in interactive movement activities, choral and oral response and social development skill,” she says, adding that kindergarten standards are used as a framework for the TK students.

At Union, the focus also is on creating a developmentally appropriate educational setting in an atmosphere with little stress. “Our TK program embodies the notion that in early childhood work and play are inseparable,” says Terri Stromfield, director of educational services.

“We incorporate a lot of movement. We give students creative outlets; such as dramatic play areas that connect with our academic themes. And we help our students build the motor and oral language skills that will help them to be successful in school,” Stromfield says.

Similar to preschool classes, Union’s classes provide practical applications such as cooking, music once a week and role-playing. In addition both schools use iPads and educational applications with the students and a lot of parent involvement. Union also works with non-district onsite programs such as Cardin and Appleseed.

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