Transitional Kindergarten

06.19.2012 | Bakersfield Californian | Lana Martin

As a mother, I was excited to hear that schools in our community were looking to add a transitional kindergarten class because of the success of my two-year-old son at his preschool. Just a month ago, we took Beaux to his first Disneyland trip and he was pointing out octagons and diamonds the entire time. Even the Disneyland employees were impressed at his application of preschool knowledge in the most over stimulating theme park in the world. My son is just a two-year-old at a preschool, so why wouldn’t transitional kindergarten taught by credentialed educators at public schools be an amazing stepping stone for any child? To give children the ability to excel in elementary school where assessments measure their abilities to succeed in the world just makes sense.  As a mother, I said where do we sign up?

As a teacher, I immediately wanted to know more about this extra grade called transitional kindergarten that was starting up all over the state of California and I wanted to teach it. Many thought I was crazy when I began teaching junior high English, and when I applied to teach this unknown grade people really believed I was crazy. Crazy? Yes! I was crazy with excitement to begin a new wave of education that has a goal to help prepare students to be our world’s future leaders.   I spent two days with 20 teachers, who together had over 300 years of teaching experience, preparing to teach this new wave of students.

What is transitional kindergarten? The Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 is changing the kindergarten entry date from December 2 to September 1 to ensure that children entering kindergarten are five-year-olds.  This change will take place over the next 3 years.  Transitional kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program for four-year-olds (those not meeting the entry date age) and young five-year-old learners (those not ready with the skills needed to enter kindergarten). It has a modified kindergarten curriculum taught by credentialed teachers that gives special attention to the over-all development of the student in preparation for kindergarten. In simple terms, it is a program that gives our children the extra time to master the tools they need to succeed in school.

California State Senator, Joe Simitian states “Today’s kindergarten classroom is a much different place than most of us experienced. We’re placing real academic demands on our kids, and the youngest are struggling to keep up. The evidence shows that giving these younger kindergarteners an extra year can make a big difference in their long-term success.” Transitional kindergarten allows parents the option to help their children be better prepared for kindergarten.  Whether you are a parent or an educator, the program just makes sense.

Lana Martin will teach Transitional Kindergarten in the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District this fall. Parents can contact their local school district to see if this program is available.

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