Despite the rocky state of California's budget and funding for education, the San Mateo-Foster City School District has said it will be offering five Transitional Kindergarten (TK) classes for the 2012-13 school year.
The school board voted unanimously in its March, 2012 meeting to move forward with TK.
Four dedicated classrooms of up to 24 students will be offered at the campuses of , , and schools. In addition, a combination class for both kindergarten and TK students will be offered at , school district employee Tatiana Sandoval told Patch.
Though Sandoval could not comment on how it will affect the district's budget, she said the district is hiring teachers for these classes both within and outside of the district.
"Transitional Kindergarten will be taught by credentialed teachers and is intended to give young learners a head start and provide them with an opportunity to learn and grow in an environment that is tailored to meet their academic and social needs," the school district's TK information page indicates. "Teachers will help children develop social and communication skills through activities that build confidence while supporting the traditional kindergarten curriculum of math, literacy, and language development taught in interactive ways."
Registration is already underway for these classes, and the website states parents can expect to find out which campus their child will attend TK at by May or June. The website warns parents that their child may not attend TK at their regular home school, or at the same school he or she will attend kindergarten at the following year.
Students are eligible for TK for the 2012-13 year if their fifth birthday falls between Nov. 2 and Dec. 2 of 2012. The district is choosing to phase in its TK offerings based on the gradual adoption of the Kindergarten Readiness law, authored as Senate Bill 1381 by California State Senator Joe Simitian.
Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, Simitian's law will require that students turn 5 on or before Sept. 1 of each school year in order to enroll in kindergarten that year. If not, they are encouraged to either wait an additional year before starting school, or to enroll in a TK class for their first year, and kindergarten for their second year.
The school district's website explains the difference between its TK and kindergarten programs in the following way, calling TK "more like kindergarten used to be," before kindergarten became more focused on academics.
"There will be a greater focus on social-emotional development and self-regulation skills," the website indicates. "In the past, there was time in the day for structured play, when children learned how to cooperate and share. Kindergarten has become more academically structured and less play-based. Transitional Kindergarten will be what kindergarten used to be."
Though the official schedule for TK days has not yet been released by the district, the website indicates it will be "a minimum of three hours per day, five days a week."
The website indicates that the first day of school will be Aug. 1 for year-round schools such as Parkside, and Aug. 29 for all other schools.
Sandoval told Patch the TK classes for next year are not yet full at this time, and spaces are still available.
For families that need full-time care for their children, the district's website also indicates that TK students are eligible for before- and after-school care at the Annex program on the campus at which they attend TK. The Annex program's hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. More information on the Annex programs is available on the website.
For more information, visit the school district's Transitional Kindergarten information page on its website.
Still have questions about Transitional Kindergarten? Tell us in the comments, and Patch will be happy to search out the answers to any additional questions for you.