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preschooler with picture book
Dr. Joanne Meier
Sound It Out
Joanne Meier

Transitional kindergarten: The answer for some

February marks the month where most preschools ask families to re-enroll for next year. For parents of 4 year olds with summer or early fall birthdays, the question looms: Should she stay or should she go, to kindergarten? Since writing this post about our family’s decision four years ago, many readers have commented in sharing their own questions and concerns. Social skills top the list of many concerns, as well as parents wondering whether they want their child to be the youngest in the grade. Others wrote in to say they worry their child will be bored with another year in preschool.

Transitional kindergarten may be the answer for some families. Transitional kindergarten (TK) classes typically promote socialization skills, hands-on learning, center time and emergent literacy, but do so in a setting where the pacing may be slower and the room for developmental differences is greater. Some experts say (opens in a new window) it’s what kindergarten used to be before it became more academically focused. Depending on the school district, TK children either go on to a year of regular kindergarten or on to first grade, depending on their readiness.

Transitional kindergarten gives kids a leg up (opens in a new window) from this week’s Rocket Blast describes a one-year-long transitional kindergarten program in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for children whose fifth birthday occurs in the fall. While is seems to be working for the young fives in California, the TK program is not without its critics (opens in a new window), citing early-education programs failure to deliver long-term educational benefits.

Transition kindergarten isn’t offered everywhere; many districts cannot afford the funding to offer this alternative setting. But for parents of kids with summer and fall birthdays, transitional kindergarten may be one option to explore.

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
February 8, 2011