Transitional Kindergarten or Kindergarten?

Hi Parents

I would love to hear any of your advice or stories of your personal experiences with putting your children into TK vs K.  Our daughter is a fall baby and misses being eligible for Kindergarten just by one month.  She is very mature and focused for her age and it seems obvious to us that she is ready for Kindergarten.  Her pediatrician saw her at her 4yr old checkup and said without a doubt that she is ready for Kindergarten.  Yet with the new cutoff dates, she would have to do a year of preschool and then a year of TK before even entering Kindergarten at age 6.  Has anyone tried to enroll their child straight into Kindergarten instead of TK?  Are the public schools accommodating to parents' requests?  We'd love to hear about your experience, and especially if you have experience with the Piedmont school system.  My daughter can go straight to Kindergarten if she stays in her current private school, however the public school is telling us that even if she completes Kindergarten in private school, she will have to repeat Kindergarten when she transfers to public school due to her birthday.  Would love to hear about your experiences on transfers also.  Thanks so much for your help!

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Nobody HAS to do TK. Of course you can enroll straight into kindergarten! From the Piedmont schools website: "A child who will reach the age of five on or before September 1 of the school year is eligible to enroll in kindergarten at the beginning of that school year or at any later time in the same year." So, if your child turned 5 this September or October (i.e., after the cut-off for kindergarten this school year), you will enroll her directly into kindergarten for the 2019-2020 school year. I'm unsure why you think she'd be entering kindergarten at age 6. She'd enter kindergarten at age 5 and then turn 6 soon after. Are you asking about having her start kindergarten "early" in a private school at age 4 (and turns 5) and then starting first grade in the public school system when she's 5 (and therefore really supposed to be in kindergarten due to her age)?

Here is the state webpage on this topic: It seems that districts can have their own policy for early admission to kindergarten or first grade, but it also seems to me that they cannot make your daughter repeat kindergarten if she completes it at a private school, "Continuance is defined as more than one school year in kindergarten. EC Section 48011 requires a child who has completed a year of kindergarten to be promoted to first grade, unless the parent or guardian and the district agree that the child may continue in kindergarten not more than one additional school year." I would like to add, however, as the parent of an older child, that school is not a race and sometimes it is socially hard in the teen years to be the youngest in the class.

In most districts, you can enroll a child in kindergarten on or after the child's fifth birthday--so you could do preschool for an extra month (assuming your preschool is willing) and move your child into kindergarten mid-year. That's probably the most cost-effective way to do it, if your preschool is on board. Alternatively, you can do private kindergarten and first grade and most districts will allow students to start with their cohort in second grade and after (but not in kinder or first, as you've discovered). You may also be able to start in Piedmont's TK program and move into kindergarten in that second month, too. Finally, I'll just add that we have an October kid who waited and went on time despite being pretty academically advanced, and while he could absolutely have handled the work of kindergarten at almost five, we have not regretted that extra year of preschool, which was wonderful for him in many other ways. Good luck! 

I believe CA law states that the age cutoff only applies at the beginning of the school year when the child is entering K (must be 5 by Sept 1) or 1st grade (must be 6 by Sept 1). Not sure every district interprets it this way as I applied to our public 1st grade (not Piedmont) when my Oct baby was not yet 6, and she was accepted. You should, at minimum, be able to transfer to public school when your child is entering 2nd grade as the age cutoff does not apply by law then. As for us, we decided to stay in our Montessori school rather than switch to public, and she’s been doing literature and math with children 3-4 years older than her despite being among the youngest in her grade cohort.

Good luck!

Hello there, 

Yes, the public school system is mandated by the state and must follow the birthday date range guidelines. I have worked for a public school for 4 years now and I have only seen one case where the scholar completed TK and was placed in 1st glade versus kinder. The scholar was both academically (reading at 1st grade level) and socially prepared for this transition. There had to be a meeting with admin, teachers and parents before the decision was finalized. Public schools do not accept parent request, preschool recommendation letters, doctors notes, ect. I know because not only work in a school, but have a child who misses the cut off by 14 days. I tried it all. 

You can also find more information on the California Department of Education website. 

Best of luck! 

I am copying and pasting  this from the California Department of Education website, I hope it is helpful;

Pursuant to EC 48000(a), a child is eligible for kindergarten if the child will have his or her fifth birthday by September 1.

However, Pursuant to EC 48000(b), local education agencies (LEAs) may enroll children in TK or kindergarten on or after their 5th birthday, on a case-by-case basis, if the governing board determines that the admittance is in the best interests of the child, and the parent or guardian is given information regarding the advantages and disadvantages, and any other explanatory information about the effect of this early admittance. Therefore, age-ineligible students (e.g., a child whose 5th birthday is on January 5) cannot attend school at the beginning of the school year, and cannot be admitted or attend school until they have attained the age of 5. Average Daily Attendance (ADA) can be claimed for these "late start" students on the day of their admittance.

I work for a public school, they will not accept your daughter into Kinder is her birthday falls out of the date range. We are mandated by the state. Private schools might have a little more wiggle room. 


Hi there:

If she is born between September 1st and December 1st, then she would be eligible for TK and then enter Kindergarten. If she turns 5 before September 1st, then she would enter Kindergarten right away. I am not sure why she would have to repeat K. She should not have to repeat. TK places are limited in the public system, but she could do TK in a private setting, then enter kindergarten in public school. You could always file for an exception with the district, but they are rarely granted (at least with Oakland Unified). Hope this helps. 

Hi, I don't have experience in Piedmont specifically, we live in Marin, but I do have the experience of my daughter also falling into the birthday cutoff that meant she had a year of TK and then a year of Kindergarten and honestly I thought it was wonderful for her, even though, I would put her in the same category as your daughter that she would have been totally ready for her Kindergarten year at 5 yrs old instead of 6 years old. The benefit with more time, in my opinion, is now she is at the older end of her class along with several girls whose bdays are close to hers. Maybe there is a reason you want to move things along, but I think there is no need. In fact my daughter's best friend from preschool had a birthday a few days BEFORE the cut-off, she would have been entering into kindergarten and been the youngest of her class, her father is a 5th grade teacher at the amazing public school she attends in Mill Valley, and he felt so strongly that she NOT start kindergarten being the youngest that they opted for a year of private school Kindergarten and then entered her in Kindergarten at public school at 6 years old. She also is a very bright and well behaved kid, but his take which I thought was interesting because he works in the public school system, was that by 5th grade he sees the the younger kids have either had a harder time with the academics or with their maturity + social dynamics at some point when they were on the really young end. I have a younger one that will not fall into this category, and will not have TK and then K, and I am sad that they don't get the extra year! But that is just my way of looking at it... there is no hurry. :) Good luck in whatever path you chose!

One of my kids missed the cut off by 2 weeks and 2 of my kids (twins) made the old Dec 2nd cut off by one day. We decided to hold the twins back one year, despite showing signs of being ready. I am writing to you with not only that perspective but also that of someone who has worked at a preschool for years. I highly recommend not pushing to get her into kindergarten. She may be focused and mature, as mine were (and one was already reading by then) but there is so much more to kindergarten than that, including socio-emotional readiness. Now that my kids are in high school and middle school, we have seen that being older has a huge advantage. Kindergarten may be fine, but it could get more challenging being the absolute youngest in the class as she gets older, especially with things like being more developmentally ready to handle peer pressure and other social challenges. Of the many people I know that have had to make a choice between holding back or moving forward, I don't know a single person that has regretted waiting a year to start school but have heard from many that regret starting their kids so young. 

If you want to go private and then transfer to public school, it is possible to circumvent the age requirement laws. You will have to have your child in private school for grades K and 1st, however, and transfer to public school for 2nd grade, which is when the age requirement drops and acceptance is based on prior grades completed instead. Good luck!

My recommendation is to take the TK slot, do the year of TK, and then push to skip K. We successfully did this. I enrolled my Thanksgiving baby girl in TK in WCCUSD, and in May of that year we applied for a Student Success Team meeting with the principal of our home school (not where she did TK, they combine schools for that) and requested she be advanced to first grade in the fall. The principal reviewed the materials we brought (her STAR reading scores, a writing sample, a math worksheet) and approved our request. She started first grade at our home school, is now in third grade, and I couldn't be happier we gave her the gift of not being bored out of her skull for a year in K. Every parent we know from TK said their child hated kindergarten because it was boring - having an older child, we knew that TK and K are almost identical curriculum. Depending on your individual school site, you may need to be pushy - the TK teacher told us she wasn't allowed to recommend any student skip, couldn't suggest it, but nodded when we asked her if she thought our daughter could handle first grade. The principal of the TK school wouldn't even take a call about it; thus we just went to our home school principal who was more receptive, probably because she already knew our family and trusted our judgement. The district wants to keep the TK kids "on schedule" because their test scores will be so good in the subsequent years. Our 8 year old daughter is reading at an 11th grade level. I can't really imagine her being in second grade right now. Third is hard enough to keep her engaged!