Introduction – Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Guide

The following interviews and educational scenes
were filmed in schools throughout California. They are presented here to support a document called
the Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Guide. Produced by
the California Department of Education. Transitional Kindergarten, also called “TK,”
is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program. Prior to this new program, California
kindergartners had to turn five on or before December 2nd in order to register for kindergarten.
The Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010, also known as Senate Bill 1381, gradually changes
the entry date to September 1st, so all children would enter kindergarten at age five. Children
whose fifth birthday falls between September 2nd and December 2nd would be eligible to
enroll in Transitional Kindergarten. This new age requirement is being phased in
over three years, beginning in 2012-13. So we were very interested when we heard that
this legislation was coming through and we recognized the importance of giving kids the
good foundational skills they need in kindergarten, so we embarked on the investigation of what
would be involved in the program and with the supporting legislation we just jumped
into it and have established some very successful programs based on that initial start up. Working with families over many years, one
of the issues that comes up at some point for these young students is that they frequently
end up on retention lists, or they struggle social-emotionally, and so I just felt this
was great to be able to support them. And their parents kind of wonder: “Should
they be in kindergarten or not be in kindergarten?” And I never had a good solution for them.
Now I do. We have to get students, in my view, into
formal learning settings as quickly as we can, especially students living in poverty,
to help combat lack of resources, lack of learning opportunities that they’ve been exposed
to for the first, three, four years of their lives. I love TK. I love it. It’s fresh. It’s exciting.
The kids are so motivated they WANT to come to school. They WANT to spend time just
exploring things and they are so so curious. I like how they’ve grown from one week to
the next. Like just yesterday I noticed a little boy who was really quiet at first,
and didn’t really speak a whole lot…. But yesterday, I just saw the big huge difference
and the change. He is like talking to me and really vocalizing and playing with the other
kids and interacting more. So, I like seeing things like that. We not only saw incredible social-emotional
growth but phenomenal academic growth in these kids. The kids that came in from TK completely revamped
what they were able to do in kinder. And has, I think, kind of set up higher expectations
across the entire campus because people now see this group of kids who are a heck of a
lot better prepared on the academic, on the social and the emotional scales,
marching right up through the grade levels. And then at the end of the year to see them
walk out and ready to go into kindergarten academically prepared … ready as competent
learners to tackle the kindergarten program, that’s rewarding.

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