Let’s start with the new transitional kindergarten (TK) that started in California for the 2011-2012 school year. Prior to last year, the kindergarten cut-off date was that the child had to turn five by December 2nd. By 2014-2015 school year, the new cut-off date will be September 1.
The state of California www.cde.ca.gov states that
A transitional kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate. Pursuant to law, (EC 48000[c]), a child is eligible for transitional kindergarten if a child will have his or her fifth birthday between:
For the 2012–13 school year November 2 and December 2
For the 2013–14 school year October 2 and December 2
For the 2014–15 school year and each school year thereafter September 2 and December 2.
By law, children are not required to enroll children in transitional kindergarten or kindergarten (EC Section 48200). A designated school(s) in each district area is/are selected to have the transitional kindergarten program that can draw from the entire district. Based on California law, a combination TK/Kindergarten is allowed. There is no state curriculum mandated for TK and it is up to the school district modify the kindergarten program in order to provide age and developmentally appropriate curriculum for transitional kindergarten.* Parents must ask themselves if their 4-year old is ready for a 5-day per week modified kindergarten curriculum when considering enrolling in TK.
Pre-k, Junior kindergarten, or pre-kindergarten is also known as preschool. While these terms are geared toward 4-year olds and early 5s, you want to keep the same high standard you would look for in a preschool when selecting your Jr. Kinder. Some questions to consider are:
1. Is the philosophy in line with the instruction?
2. Is the student-teacher ratio low?
3. Is this a play-based curriculum?
4. How much time is spent outdoors vs. indoors?
5. What type of food is served? Is it healthy, non-processed, and organic?
6 Will my child be learning a second language?
7. How will my child get individualized instruction?
8. Will my child be socially ready for kindergarten?**
Because Pasitos has such a low student-teacher ratio, we are able to differentiate students’ learning and needs. Every child gets large group (up to 24 children), small group (between 6-12 children) and 1-1 time and/or observation daily. This helps the student have a strong relationship with their maestra.
“Many cognitive theorists argue that learning is a social event, and studies have proven that both teachers and students will pay the price if teachers neglect to form emotionally warm, supportive relationships with and among their students. To improve students’ chances for academic success, educators must strive to form meaningful personal relationships with students.”***
These relationships that are formed with the maestra help tailor the teaching to the needs of the individual child.
In conclusion, with the introduction of TK to the world of four-year olds, each parent must take a focused look at their child in conjunction with their preschool teacher to help make the decision between continuing in preschool or moving toward a kindergarten curriculum.