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Transitional kindergarten to be offered

11.08.2011 | ABC News 10 | Nannette Miranda

SACRAMENTO, CA – Karate-loving Nathaniel Green is doing well in kindergarten. His dad credits “transitional kindergarten” for his success.

“I’m learning easy words to read, like ‘the’,’ ‘here’ and ‘down.’ Stuff like that,” said Nathaniel.

“They did a lot of arts and crafts that enabled him to work on making shapes that were pre-cursors to letters, said dad Garry Green. “I think that, in particular, was a great aspect of the curriculum .”

A new law will soon require kids to be 5 years old when entering kindergarten. The cutoff birthday will be September rather than December. The idea is to make sure 4 year olds aren’t in kindergarten.

“California was one of the few states where kids were still 4 years old going into kindergarten. And often they didn’t have the maturity and the skills they needed to really succeed,” said Deborah Kong with Preschool California.

While they wait, 4 year olds can attend transitional kindergarten, known as TK. It’ll be part of California’s public school system next fall … the first grade added since 1891.Some schools have already tried it.

Cathy Wietstock with the Orange County Department of Education said, “TK has been proven to be valuable to the school districts in lowering retention, special ed placement and we predict dropout rates will go down.”

But some school districts are concerned about the costs.While the state gives them money for each child that attends, whether it’s TK or regular kindergarten, participation is voluntary and each school may not have enough students.

“Perhaps three from one location, four from another, maybe five from another location … and try to serve them in one location could be a real challenge for some areas throughout the state,” Jeff Bell with School Services of California said.

All Nathaniel knows he’s performing much better in school because of TK.

Reporter: “How well do you do in school now?”

Nathaniel: “Very good.”

To watch the video, please click here.

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