What is Transitional Kindergarten?
You may have heard some buzz lately about transitional kindergarten (TK) and are wondering what it is. Or maybe your child is already in a transitional kindergarten program and you’re wondering how it will be beneficial. Whether you’re a parent searching for options for your 4- and 5-year-olds or a teacher looking for transitional kindergarten resources—look no further! Learning Without Tears is introducing its brand new product offerings for transitional kindergarten. Before we fill you in on our exciting new developments, let’s take a look at what, exactly, transitional kindergarten is and how it can benefit young students in that crucial developmental stage between Pre-K and kindergarten.
Age for Transitional Kindergarten
The concept of transitional kindergarten was pioneered by the State of California in 2010 when a law was passed called the Kindergarten Readiness Act to make a place for 4-year-old and new 5-year-old children who turn five between September 2 and December 2 and are developmentally in-between preschool and kindergarten. Transitional kindergarten offers children with late birthdays extra time and a developmentally appropriate curriculum to prepare them for entering kindergarten.
Transitional Kindergarten Curriculum & Standards
In an academic world where standards for kindergarteners are increasingly similar to those once expected of first graders, transitional kindergarten provides an appropriate bridge to meet the social-emotional and academic needs of younger rising kindergarten students who might not be ready for traditional kindergarten.
While there is currently no state-mandated curriculum, transitional kindergarten teaches children the foundational learning skills they need in order to be comfortable in a classroom environment among their peers. By delaying the enrollment year for kindergarten, 4-year-olds and young 5-year-olds are offered the time to build the foundation skills necessary for them to adapt successfully to kindergarten when they are ready. Students not only learn essential pre-literacy, pre-math, and other cognitive skills but also develop social and self-regulation skills needed to succeed in school and life.
Transitional Kindergarten vs Preschool
While they may feel similar, many transitional kindergarten programs have stark differences from their preschool counterparts. For example, in California, transitional kindergarten teachers must meet the credential requirements to teach kindergarten in the K-12 system, while preschools may not have the same requirements. Additionally, transitional kindergarten curriculum is often modeled after a kindergarten curriculum, modified to be developmentally appropriate for a younger class.
A study conducted by Christopher Doss through the Stanford-San Francisco Unified School District Partnership found that transitional kindergarten differs from pre-k in that it is folded into the larger K-12 system, employs teachers that are more highly educated and compensated, and offers a more academically focused curriculum.
Pros of Transitional Kindergarten
Transitional kindergarten can benefit both the student and the school. Here are five advantages that transitional kindergarten can bring to your school:
• Students are better positioned for academic success, which makes them less likely to be placed in special education or held back in later grades
• Allows time and space for young learners to develop socially and emotionally while building academic skills
• Students have time to develop social and self-regulation skills alongside academic skills
• Children are better prepared to succeed in kindergarten
• Students are more confident communicators because they’ve had time to build vital social skills
How Learning Without Tears Supports Transitional Kindergarten
Transitional kindergarten provides a bridge from Pre-K to kindergarten, and the Kick Start Kindergarten student edition is designed to provide a developmentally appropriate teaching resource. The Kick Start Kindergarten student edition can also be adapted for Pre-K students for practicing lowercase letters and kindergarten students who struggle with the pace of the kindergarten student edition.
Features of Kick Start Kindergarten:
• Introduces students to lowercase letter formation
• Provides fine motor skill-building
• Includes teaching guidelines and lesson plans for easy teacher prep
• Developmentally sequenced to fit a nine-month or year-round calendar