Vallejo district expands transitional kindergarten

03.07.2013 | Vallejo Times-Herald | Lanz Christian Bañes

More of Vallejo’s youngest students can get a head start at school next year.

That’s when the Vallejo City Unified School District plans to double the number of transitional kindergarten classes it offers, from three to six.

Transitional kindergarten, commonly abbreviated to TK, is a new grade that comes before traditional kindergarten. Instituted this year in districts across the state, the optional grade focuses on social and emotional development to better prepare children for the academic focus of kindergarten.

The three transitional kindergarten classes in Vallejo are at Cooper, Elsa Widenmann and Glen Cove elementary schools.

“It gives them the gift of time. They learn how to share, they learn how to hold their pencils,” said Amy Parangan, a district teacher leader who works with the three transitional kindergarten teachers in Vallejo.

One of those teachers is Terrie Corkrean, who taught kindergarten for 23 years before jumping at the chance to teach transitional kindergarten. One of the major differences in teaching kindergarten versus teaching transitional kindergarten is how young all the students are, said Corkrean, who teaches her class at Cooper.

“We always had those 4 year olds in our classes, but there were just four or five of them in a class,” Corkrean said.

The district has about 80 transitional kindergarten students spread out among the three sites and expects to have about 150 enrolled next year.

Before the state
instituted transitional kindergarten, students had to be 5 by Dec. 2 in order to register for kindergarten. To make way for the new grade, that date is steadily being pushed back.

This year, the cutoff date was Nov. 2, and next year it will be Oct. 2. Students too young for kindergarten could then enroll in transitional kindergarten.

The moving cutoff date is one reason the district expects more students in the coming school year, Parangan said. Additionally, she believes more parents are seeing the value of early childhood education.

In addition to the existing sites, the district will add classes to Patterson and Wardlaw elementary schools as well as Cave Language Academy. With the exception of Cave, a Spanish dual-immersion program, each transitional kindergarten class is associated with a feeder school that the student will go to for kindergarten. Parents can register their child at their designated school sites, based on feeder schools.

Contact Lanz Christian Bañes at (707) 553-6833 or Follow him on Twitter @LanzTimesH.

VCUSD Transitional Kindergarten sites, 2013-14

* Cave Language Academy — 556-8410. No feeder school/parent choice.

* Cooper Elementary — 556-8420. Feeder schools: Cooper, Federal Terrace, Highland elementary schools.

* Glen Cove Elementary — 556-8491. Feeder schools: Glen Cove, Pennycook, Beverly Hills elementary schools.

* Patterson Elementary — 556-8580. Feeder schools: Patterson, Mare Island, Lincoln elementary schools.

* Wardlaw Elementary — 556-8730. Feeder schools: Wardlaw, Steffan Manor elementary schools.

* Elsa Widenmann Elementary — 556-8740. Feeder schools: Widenmann, Loma Vista, Dan Mini elementary schools.

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