BUSD Transitional Kindergarten vs preschool

My son will qualify for TK next fall, and I’ve gotten conflicted advice about sending him to BUSD for that year (vs waiting until Kindergarten). I’d love to hear parents’ experience with TK, whether it is truly play based and developmentally supportive, or whether it feels early to send kids to a big public school environment. Has anyone had the experience of choosing TK over an additional year of private preschool and feeling either really great about the decision, or somewhat regretful? 

From a logistical standpoint, does every qualifying child get into TK, or is there a waitlist? Should I have a backup option regardless? 

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Putting aside the TK curriculum, BUSD has not released a plan to open full time in the fall. And the requirements to reopen schools keep increasing and the dates keep getting pushed out (and referred to as “fictional” by the administration in public meetings). If you need full time childcare or want some guarantee that your child will have in person preschool, I would recommend having a backup option to stay in a private preschool another year. 

Our daughter went to TK at Sylvia Mendez and it was truly the greatest experience. If you are blessed with getting Teacher Erika it is like striking gold. She’s a phenom - truly a master teacher and I learned so much as a parent from her, too. It was very social-emotional focused, play-based and developmentally appropriate. We feel incredibly lucky to have gotten that year and are disappointed our younger daughters won’t qualify. At Sylvia Mendez the TK is in a separate area with its own yard so it’s like it’s own island in some ways. But the kids get the benefit of a larger community through things like morning Assembly and school wide performances, as well as aftercare if you go that route, which was also a great experience. My understanding on the logistics is you are guaranteed a seat but you don’t know at which school. We live in south berkeley so our options were either Malcolm x or SM and it was highly unlikely we’d get places elsewhere. I’ve only heard great things about TK at Malcolm x too and think it is similar. 

TK definitely gave my kid an edge in Kinder. I think it allowed him to come into kinder with a better understanding of phonics which means he is fully reading in first grade and remember we were only in person for 1/2 of kindergarten. I did not do a lot of extra interventions to make that happen. I think that was due to the teachers at NOCCS and his time in TK.

My child went to BUSD TK at Cragmont with Mr C. Before the pandemics, TK was a blast. When the pandemic hit, Mr C rose to the occasion with flying colors! I loved the TK. Academic achievements-there were none of that. TK was basically about introducing children to the concept of school, school classrooms, school routines, school rules, how the school works, school food, school enrichment teachers (signing), school libraries, library rules. Academics: I think they learned the alphabet, phonics awareness (not reading, basically that the letters make sounds). They learned a bunch of facts about a bunch of subjects: solar systems, bats, penguins, Moon, other random stuff.