Tahoe/Truckee school district offers new transitional kindergarten option
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. andamp;#8212; Parents of children with fall birthdays in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District now have an option that may give their child a better chance for long-term success in the school system. Starting with the 2012-13 school year, TTUSD elementary schools are offering transitional kindergarten classes for students who will turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2.andamp;#8220;A transitional kindergarten is an optional first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum. It is age and developmentally appropriate for those kindergarten students on the younger end of the spectrum,andamp;#8221; said Dave Curry, TTUSDandamp;#8217;s director of education services.Transitional kindergarten at TTUSD came about as the result of the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010. Under the new law, the California Education Code was amended to push the age 5 cut-off date from Dec. 2 back to Sept. 2 (with dates staggered back one month over the next three years), bringing the kindergarten cut-off age for California in line with national standards.According to Assemblyman George Runner Jr. (R-Lancaster), a former educator who introduced the bill, andamp;#8220;Children with autumn birthdays are often not prepared developmentally to cope with the demands of kindergarten. By starting children before theyandamp;#8217;re ready, we increase the chances that theyandamp;#8217;ll fail.andamp;#8221;School districts are required by law to offer transitional kindergarten, but the state budget doesnandamp;#8217;t provide any funding for these programs. However, district administrators feel that the impact of transitional kindergarten on the overall TTUSD budget will be minimal.andamp;#8220;Most of the students enrolling in transitional kindergarten would have enrolled in kindergarten this year anyway,andamp;#8221; says TTUSD superintendent Dr. Rob Leri, andamp;#8220;And we retain kindergartners each year who are not prepared for first grade. This program gives those students a chance to begin their education in a more positive way.andamp;#8221;The law mandates that transitional kindergarten be offered only to students who turn 5 between November and December for 2012, however, the state gives districts flexibility in implementing the program. TTUSDandamp;#8217;s trustees voted at their board meeting on March 7 to allow parents the option of enrolling their children whose 5th birthdays fall between September and December in transitional kindergarten.andamp;#8220;A two-year kindergarten program is an ideal option for students who need more time to develop the academic, social, and emotional skills that theyandamp;#8217;ll need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond,andamp;#8221; said Glenshire Elementary Schoolandamp;#8217;s principal, Kathleen Gauthier.Transitional kindergarten differs from preschool in that the curriculum is similar to kindergarten, but with an emphasis on developing social and motor skills and helping students feel comfortable in the classroom setting so they will be more prepared to learn and pay attention in class. And, unlike most preschools, the students in transitional kindergarten are about the same age, so the teacher can focus more on age-appropriate developmental tasks to help students prepare for kindergarten.Another difference is that transitional kindergarten is free, so every child is given the same opportunity to learn, whether or not their parents can afford to send them to preschool.More information on transitional kindergarten, including FAQs, can be found at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/em/kinderfaq.asp.andamp;#8212; Provided by Switchback PR + Marketing on behalf of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.
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