Transitional Kindergarten in San Carlos Off to Smooth Start

11.13.2012 | San Carlos Patch | Aimee Lewis Strain

It’s been a little more than three months, but the San Carlos School District’s first year offering Transitional Kindergarten is off to a pleasing start, officials report.

Transitional Kindergarten is the result of the Kindergarten Readiness Act, which was signed into law by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010 and changed the state Kindergarten entry date from Dec. 1 to Sept. 1 to bring the age children start kindergarten to age 5. The new age requirement is phased in over the course of three years, moving the cut-off date one month per year.  But TK will continue, becoming the 14th grade in the state’s public school system.

According to state education officials, TK fills a longstanding need in providing age-appropriate instruction to these young learners, providing them with math concepts and social and emotional development and oral language. The extra year of classroom instruction offers these students an opportunity to hone their academic skills while maturing in other areas, subsequently being more prepared for the rigors of elementary school.

The San Carlos School District offers TK to 16 children on two of its campuses, with eight students at both Arundel and Brittan Acres.

Patch caught up with Mary Jude Doerpinghaus, San Carlos School District director of Educational Services, to see how the district’s youngest learners were faring with this new program. 

Has the transition in offering a 14th grade been tough for the district? How has San Carlos weathered thus far? 

Generally, once we passed the initial ambiguity from the state, working through registration and planning for how we were going to best serve these students, the first few months have gone very smoothly. The children have integrated nicely, the teachers are excited and students are growing and learning daily! 

Has the TK been a hardship for the district to implement?

Not really.  Fiscally because we are receiving ADA (Average Daily Attendance) monies, there is no financial hardship and these students are well integrated into our district at this point. 

What curriculum is being taught? Who determined it? 

We have not adopted a specific curriculum per say.  As many other local districts are doing, we are currently modifying our K curriculum.  The focus is on meeting the developmental needs of these younger learners. The teachers are selecting materials that reach the students across the various domains including listening/speaking, social-emotional as well as early math skills, phonics and appreciation of reading.

What are the strengths you see from the program? Any negatives?

The strength of the program is that we are serving these students earlier than historically has been done.  Thus, giving those who need a little extra time and support to be provided under our school staff’s guidance and expertise.

It also will be wonderful in the spring as we transition these students to their next school year. Having a more solid understanding of each individual student’s needs will benefit these children and their future teachers so that we can plan ahead, as well as continue to support their growth and development prospectively in the upcoming school year. 

How would a parent determine if it is right for their child?  

Once a child meets the age criteria, I would encourage families to look at their child’s overall development.  This is not an easy question to answer as often many think only of a child’s school readiness in terms of their academic readiness alone.  However, children’s overall growth and development can vary greatly.  While academic skills are certainly an important part of school success, other facets of development are equally important including their child’s social, emotional, and physical development. 

Are there more students applying for TK than you expected?

Our numbers are about where we anticipated they would be for this year. We do expect them to grow for next year.  We are already fielding parent questions around TK and planning ahead for the 2013-14 school year.

For more information, contact the San Carlos School District at 650-508-7333.

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