Transitional Kindergarten Information

Dear Parents,

Parents with children that will be turning 5 years of age between September 1 and December 2, have a choice about their children’s placement for the fall.  Our program offers a pre-kindergarten/Transitional Kindergarten (‘TK’) that helps prepare students for entry into the Kindergarten classroom in one year from this fall.  The public schools offer a Transitional Kindergarten (‘TK’) program in public schools for children with these birthdates as well.

Children who turn 5 by Sept 1 may enter Kindergarten.

There are several differences in our program and the school district’s program.  The biggest difference in the two programs comes from which agency oversees the regulations for the programs.  Public TK programs are under the Department of Public Education.  Therefore, their regulations will mirror elementary school policies that are designed for children ages 5-12.  Our program is under regulations from the Department of Social Services, which sets the regulations for our programs, infants through school age after school programs and mirrors traditional early childhood policies and priorities.

Here are some of the most noticeable differences:
Ratios in the classroom: 

TK at Adventures In Learning:   2 Teachers to 18-24 children.

TK at public elementary school:  1 Teacher to 26-28 students (can be up to 33 students)

Education:

TK at Adventures In Learning:  Specialized units in Early Childhood Education and backgrounds include meaningful experiences working with young children.

 

TK at public elementary school:  K-5th grade multi-subject teaching credential. No previous preschool or early childhood education experience or education required. On average less than 25% have previous early childhood education or experience.

 

 

Hours of program:

TK at Adventures In Learning:  7am – 6pm  2-5 days a week with 1/2 day & 3/4 day options available

TK at public schools:   8am – 12:15  5 days a week (4 hours varies: check you local school district for hours)

 

Your child may be mixed in with a group of children up to 10 years old during on campus before and after care, which may or may not feel comfortable to you.  This expanded mixed-age group is a potentially big transition that your child may be ready for now or, another year of developing in a familiar environment may be better for them.

 

Both programs have a goal of getting children ready for Kindergarten. Both approach this goal very differently.

Our program continues to use an educational play-based approach to help children acquire cognitive skills in literacy, letters and numbers concepts, size, sequence, patterns, colors, and other academic skills along with working on social and emotional competencies. There is nothing like having the time to answer the why questions of a child, even if it wasn’t a part of the curriculum plan for the day.  While some of our children end the year reading this is not our driving force, but rather we seek to make children excited about learning.  We choose to honor the proven research on how children develop and what skills they are truly ready for as a 4 – 5-year-old.  In honoring childhood, we want children to learn at their own pace during this year, allow them to master competencies such as small motor skills before moving on to a tightly structured environment.  Our outdoor playtime is considered part of our curriculum and a valuable part of your child’s day.  Children are given group and individual attention to achieve our intended outcomes for the year.

Common myths on what children need for Kindergarten success

Children need larger groups to thrive and learn – FALSE!

“Improved verbal interactions are correlated with lower child: staff ratios. Small ratios are very important for young children’s development. [Small] group size and child: staff ratio allow three- to five-year-old children to have continuing adult support and guidance while encouraging independent, self-initiated play and other activities.” 4

Children need direct academic instruction to be ready for kindergarten – FALSE

Play-based learning is not only appropriate for children before kindergarten (even children in kindergarten!) but actually helps promote kindergarten readiness.1 Read more here

Social and emotional development is arguably the most important element of your child’s early learning experience – TRUE

“Research shows the link between social and emotional skills and school success is so strong, it is a greater predictor of children’s academic performance in the first grade than their familial background and their cognitive abilities. Why is this link so strong? Simply put, we know that learning is a social process. Children cannot learn when they are struggling to follow directions, get along with their peers and control their emotions in a classroom setting.” 2

Social-emotional development may be best nurtured and supported in a smaller, more intimate environment – TRUE

Direct, warm social interaction between adults and children is more common and more likely with lower child: staff ratios.” – National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education

 

The TK program at your local elementary school is part of the public education system and will be offered from approximately 8 am – 12:15 pm, 5 days a week.  Our program is a tuition-based program and runs 7 am – 6 pm, offered 2-5 days a week.  Children that attend the public TK program can sign up for our T-K/Kinder after school care program where we will pick children up after school and bring them to AIL for Lunch and after school activities.  Remember that if your child starts at a TK program at an elementary school it does not mean they will remain at that school for Kindergarten.  Children in the TK program may not be assigned to their neighborhood school and may therefore experience two transitions, friends and campus, in 2 years.

We of course believe that we offer a wonderful educational TK program in an age-appropriate environment and that our students are well prepared for Kindergarten the following year. Teachers in the public and private elementary schools around us have agreed. We believe that low ratios and an expertise in Early Childhood Education provide children with an excellent educational experience.

Parent Choice is Important and YOU Know Your Child Best!

As you probably already know from the hundreds and thousands of decisions you have already made for your child, you need to do what you think is best for them and your family. The choice between TK in a large elementary school setting with elementary school teachers or a final year in a early childhood environment is undoubtedly a very personal decision for each family.  Cost is a consideration, of course, as is location, hours of care, environment, and more.

If you decide to keep your child in our program for TK; you can look forward to them having the opportunity to be a leader in smaller environment, enhance and refine many skills, and continue working on their own social and emotional development.

You know your child best.  Not every program fits every child, if you have any questions about this decision please don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us to discuss your options.

All of us at Adventures In Learning wish each of you the best on your parenting journey

 

Sources

  1. https://blog.wonderschool.com/what-is-play-based-learning/
  2. http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/kindergarten_readiness_social_and_emotional_development