Advice about OUSD Transitional Kindergarten

Parent Q&A

  • Oakland school lottery myths

    (2 replies)

    hi, I’m hoping to gain some insight and debunk some ousd myths about the school lottery system. A friend just told me that you may gain priority in the lottery if you submit your application sooner in the open enrollment time. This goes contrary to all logical thought since most schools don’t tour until December and enrollment starts mid November. The city itself doesn’t even do a school fair until December. Is there any truth or founded rumor to this? 

    Also, if you don’t get your first choice are your chances higher of getting your second or third? I’ve heard of people playing the lottery in sf (putting their first choice second or third). 

    We are hoping for a non neighborhood school so mainly wanting to know if there is anything to the rumor of time of submission having anything to do with your chances. 

    Thank you!!!

    RE: Oakland school lottery myths ()

    There is zero truth to this (although apparently it was once the case--many years ago--that applications were first come-first serve and people lined up in the wee hours to submit them, and we were actually at an open house last year where a retired administrator told parents this, causing some panic!) In today's enrollment process, all on-time applications are processed at the same time. In the past, I believe the lottery has assigned a number to each application and when your turn rolled around, it ran through your list of schools looking for open spots before defaulting to your neighborhood school if none were available, so there was no particular benefit to listing a less in-demand school first (but certainly a benefit to not stacking your list with schools that are all hard to get into). That also explains why there's no benefit to listing the same school three times--if there's not a spot, there's not a spot. You're not getting a raffle ticket (as in some charter assignment processes where numbers are drawn and certain priorities might get you extra entries). However, I understand that the assignment process is moving online this year (last year just the applications were collected online, but the lottery was not run in the online system) so that may be handled differently--I'd ask and see.

    RE: Oakland school lottery myths ()

    We optioned last year for TK. It was their 1st year using an online system (or so I was informed). They don't even collect the data until the close of the lottery window. Perhaps when it was paper, there were people starting an early tally, but that is not a lottery, that's 1st come 1st serve. What is true is that OUSD works out the lottery results for applications submitted within the options window before they look at late applications. Perhaps that's where the "sooner application' priority myth originated.

    A friend of mine put her 1st choice as #1, 2 and 3 on her child's option form. She suggested we do the same convinced it made statistical sense. OUSD told me that is not how it works, and when I filled out our online application it wasn't even physically possible. You can't use the same school twice in the digital form. 

    The one thing that did help us was putting a "safety school" (i know, sounds awful) in the lower rank of our list. No one in my neighborhood wants our neighborhood school. There were 5 kids in the surrounding blocks applying for TK. Of course everyone tried for the star schools, and everyone who didn't put a "safety school" was assigned our neighborhood school. Everyone of us who did put a school with a better chance, were placed in the lower ranked/with less demand school.  One family stayed in Pre-k, and a few petitioned for another placement. 

    The welcome center urged us to put the schools down in order of our preference. 

    My experience is also with TK. That is a fraction of the student population and quite a few desirable schools still do not offer that grade, so the statistical properties of that lottery are a little different, and weren't reported separately in the OUSD book to give insight into some hidden strategy. 

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  • Transitional kindergarten at Emerson in Oakland

    (3 replies)

    I am curious to hear about experience with the transitional kindergarten at Emerson and any feedback about studio one for aftercare. Our local school does not have TK and Emerson was on our list in part because it's in between home and work.  My child could theoretically stay at preschool so I'm trying to assess whether or not switching for one year is a good idea since he would go as a kindergartner to our local school (I hope!). Any advice/  thoughts are appreciated;  he's very active and does well at preschool but has a lot of energy and I've been relieved that he's eligible for TK because I think going to kindergarten right now would be too soon for him. 

    I do not have direct experience with TK at Emerson, but my friend's son went to Emerson TK and then moved onto Chabot, which is their zoned Elementary school. My friend's son is also a very energetic child, as most boys are. The parents liked the school alright. It's definitely not fancy and wasn't perfect but there were a lot that they liked about the school. They liked the after school program option there, the teacher was really great. Coming from a play-based preschool where the boy got to run outside and run around almost whenever he wanted to a structured, traditional school setting was a big adjustment. But, the boy did pretty well, made friends, and the parents particularly commented that the TK teacher was amazing. The class size is larger for sure but the parents felt that Emerson TK was very convenient because it was on their way to the BART station and the son got the transitional education he needed and the son was very well prepared for K at Chabot. The son is now a 1st grader at Chabot and is thriving. The parents could have kept the boy at preschool for another year, but they felt that they made the right decision because it made the financial and logistical sense. They also felt that 1 year of TK is a drop in the bucket. They felt that even if it's not 100% the absolute best ideal situation, it's only for a year, so they decided to give Emerson TK a chance and they are glad that they did. (I'm in a similar situation with my child assigned to another TK school that is outside our zone because our neighborhood school doesn't have  TK, so I had an extensive conversation about my friend's TK experience. That is why I'm able to share a lot of info.)

    My son is currently in TK at Emerson and is in the same situation - he will go to Kinder at a different school. For us, the decision was pretty clear - he had completely outgrown preschool and needed to move on, but I was really nervous. He's very active, lots of energy and has a hard time sitting still. It's been a big struggle. The social emotional aspects have been very hard, impulse control, keeping his hands to himself, learning how to act in a big school setting. The academic side has been good, and I'm surprised and pleased and how much he is learning. But, all in all - it's really a struggle. It may continue to be a struggle in Kindergarten, but I'm hoping that we are laying the foundation now for better experience in the future. I will say that the TK teacher Mrs. Minor has been great. She is very caring and patient and really has been trying and working with us to get my son in a better spot.

    Studio One has been fine, it's certainly convenient. Although I would prefer an afterschool option that was strictly play or sports for my active boy.

    Good luck.

    I can't speak to that specific TK program, but my daughter did TK at a different school from the one where she ended up going, and it was totally fine. The TK program was great and she was very ready for kinder. Though she was ahead academically, she was right on track for kindergarten emotionally, so it was good that she basically got 2 years of kindergarten. You know what I'd recommend? See if you can go to that school and meet with the TK teacher. Maybe see the class in action. That's what I did and she was amazing and we ended up having a great experience. Best of luck! 

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  • OUSD TK Options - Sankofa or Emerson?

    (1 reply)

    We are just starting to tour and get ready to submit our Options paperwork to OUSD for TK 2017/18. We are zoned for Sankofa, but are looking into Emerson (the next walkable TK school), & a few other schools down hwy13 that are on our weekly commute route, and where we already have a large community of friends. I am drawn to the idea of a neighborhood school, saturating our efforts into our immediate community, and being able to walk. That's why we're making a go of an urban family life after all.

    I'm looking for recent Sankofa & Emerson parent and student experiences. PTO, TK, K & beyond. I've had a comfortable experience so far reaching out and getting encouraging information from Emerson. I can't say it's been positive or even organized with Sankofa. Am I missing something?

    Also, I'd love to hear any experience, advice or protocol for re-optioning for Kindergarten after a TK assignment, just in case that seem best for our family.

    Thank you.

    We know families that have gone to Emerson for TK then Peralta for K. I live less than a block from Sankofa and our daughter is at Peralta. 

    Last year OUSD discouraged any family outside of the Peralta district from putting it as their first choice. I don't know of any new families outside of the district that got in on the first pass, but I know many that got in from the waiting list over the summer or in the first week of school.

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  • Looking for Dual Language Immersion TK in Oakland

    (3 replies)

    I am a mom of an almost 4 year old (late September bday) and we are starting the school search process for a good TK program. It is very important to me that she learn another language (not tied to any particular one although leaning to Spanish) at an early age. I am looking at Dual Immersion language programs at OUSD and have found that Melrose Academy, Manzanita Seed, Korematsu and Esperanza all have dual immersion in Spanish. Would love any insight parents have into these schools and your experiences with them. Also looking at Yu Ming, but we are not in the area, they do not offer TK and I understand getting in is extremely difficult. Any tips on getting in? Can I get into another school and still go to Yu Ming later?  I'd also like to be able to send her to EBI, but the tuition price tops Cal and I cannot afford that at the TK stage. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    Regarding Francophone Charter School of Oakland, there was a TK wait list for this year. There was also a change in school leadership from last year. If you do decide to consider the school, I suggest finding out as much as you can about plans for next year, faculty retention, potential site changes, and the hiring/recruitment process for teachers. 

    If you're open to dual immersion in French, don't forget about Francophone Charter School of Oakland.  The school is in its second year of operation, and there was a lottery for K this year but it's certainly possible to get in.  Not sure if there will be a lottery for TK but I know they offer a TK program. 

    My daughter goes to MLA and it is awesome. I highly recommend you check it out. The principal is a strong leader with caring, loving teachers. I know parents who have kids in TK there and are very happy with it. 

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  • Transitional Kindergarten at Thornhill? Recent experience?

    (1 reply)

    We are about to submit an offer on a house that is zoned for Montclair Elementary. But since Montclair doesn't have TK and our daughter has Sept. birthday, we are told that he'd be going to Thornhill for TK. Would truly appreciate hearing about any experience with Thronhill's TK or K program in general and after school care options.  Thank you!

    Montclair does have a TK program.  You are most likely to be assigned to the school where your home is zoned, but if a school is oversubscribed then the district offers placement where there is space (and hopefully in one of your top choices).  So, if you buy in the Montclair zone, your child will most likely get assigned to Montclair for TK.  The enrollment for TK is a separate process than K.  You are not guaranteed a spot in the same elementary school for K after attending TK. If you buy a home in Montclair and for some crazy reason you don't get TK at Montclair, your child would get assigned to Montclair when applying for K.  After K, you can seamlessly continue in the same school for the remainder of the elementary years.

    The best source of OUSD Options enrollment advice is the OUSD website or the Student Assignment Office.  Be careful to submit your OUSD Options application on time.  :)

    For school tours or information about programs offered at each school, call the school directly or go to the individual school's website.  Schools offer on site aftercare or have "enrichment" programs before or after school, but they vary by school. 

    Good luck with your home purchase.

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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Experience w/ TK Classroom @ Emerson Elementary?

June 2016

Hi There! We're enrolled at Emerson for the Fall - my daughter is 4 1/2 and I'm nervous. She's been in a preschool with a 6-1 ratio for the past year and the ratio at Emerson is ....24-1!?? I wonder if anyone has experience in the TK classroom at Emerson and would be willing to share. I'm curious about how kids do there with less adult support and also about how the day looks (are they expected to sit still and listen to the teacher most of the day?). Thanks so much, Kasey

My son is currently attending TK at Emerson. He originally came from a tiny preschool that only had 12 children. We attended some of the first of the month Emerson Saturday playdates to get a feel for the school, meet some parents and have some questions answered prior which helped a tiny bit with the transition to a big school.

Ms. Brooks is great! She has a very calm demeanor and many strengths, as well as recognizing the individuality in each child. (Though I have recently heard that she may be teaching the Kindergarten class next year.) The TK seemed to have an influx of volunteers, including some Oakland High students. There was also a dedicated assistant in the afternoon every day.

There is much more flexibility in the TK room than in the Kindergarten so rest assured the children are not sitting all day. I can't tell you exactly how the day goes but in the morning they do sit briefly and then it is free choice play. They have P.E. with Coach Carter once a week and on rainy days she sometimes comes in too. Ms. Brooks would also do Yoga with the children.

Hope that answers some of your questions. Claire

Considering OUSD Transitional Kindergarten

Jan 2016

Hi, My son will be 5 years old in November (2016). He is in a great preschool, but I am considering transitional kindergarten for him because it is 5 days a week and it's free. I've found very little information about the different TK programs offered through the Oakland School district. I've found lots of helpful info about k-12 but very little about TK. We live in the Cleveland school district - but since they don't offer TK we will have to apply to another school. Can you please share your experience with TK in Oakland? I've looked at Sequoia (but have little hope of getting in) so am interested to hear about other schools. And really any school - or just the TK experience in general. Thank you so much for any help/advice you can share. Katherine

Hi - Our son is in TK at Glenview this year. We also applied to Sequoia, having heard great things about the TK teacher, but didn't get in. Our teacher, Ms Shreve is wonderful, we really love her.

TK in general is more academic than I expected. There are lots of worksheets, tracing etc. I had hoped it would involve more play than it does, and I'm not sure how different it is than kindergarten. Our kid has homework every day, which seems crazy. They are currently developing the curriculum and I'm not sure they've gotten it all figured out yet.

All that being said, our kid is happy at Glenview, and loves the teacher and classmates. Glenview is a sweet place. I wish there was less homework overall but I think it's pretty standard in OUSD, unfortunately.

We do feel lucky to qualify for TK too. Our kid will be well-prepared for K. Good luck! anon

Oakland TK Families: How's it going?

Nov 2015

We are considering TK for 2016-17 and would love to hear from current (or recent) OUSD TK families on how your child is doing and what you think of the program at the school you are at. Also especially interested in hearing from families with parent(s) who work full-time--were you able to find aftercare that accepted your TK student? If not, how did you solve the extended day dilemma? Are there any Oakland preschools offering, or considering offering, a program similar to the TK aftercare program that the Berkeley JCC offers? Thanks! Prospective TK parent

My child started the school year in TK at a school with a good reputation that had not previously offered TK. The curriculum and environment were not ideal for four-year-olds--frequent transitions between activities, incredibly short recesses, lots of many-step directions relayed from across the room, pretty advanced motor work with scissors etc. It was pretty much just kindergarten! I think TK is probably a good fit for a child who is actually developmentally ready for kindergarten but just not chronologically old enough. Our child had a difficult time in TK and we ultimately went back to preschool, where there were thankfully still spaces. Perhaps as OUSD gets more experienced with TK, it'll be a better option for more types of children, but for now, if you can at all afford it, just do an extra year of preschool. If you'd like more details, have the moderator give you my e-mail. Opted out of TK

Transitional kindergarten near Rockridge?

Aug 2015

Due to my son's birthdate he won't enter kindergarten until 6 years old in 2017. Some tell me that it's actually better for a boy, anyway, given slower social development. I have a very smart and savvy kiddo, but he could use some social skills (despite being in a preschool setting for 2 years...). Anyone have advice/experience with this? I have a disability that does not allow me to drive, or even take the bus long-distance. Does anyone know if my disability will be considered by the OUSD when choosing a T-K program for my son? I live in lower Rockridge, Oakland, a few blocks away from Peralta (Rockridge area) and about 1 mile to Chabot. Neither has one, but the nearest schools are Emerson and Piedmont (both a bus ride away). Does anyone have experience with the Emerson or Piedmont programs, or any other in the OUSD? Thanks for advice. CR

Here's what I know about the transitional K program at Emerson:

  • Last year there were 25+ kids with ONE teacher who did not have an assistant or an aide with her for any portion of the school day.
  • The students are given activities that do not seem age-appropriate, such as tracing numbers 1-100 on a hundreds chart, and lots of time spent sitting for instruction. There seems to be lots of desk work (worksheets, closed-ended projects) and not a lot of open-ended, creative/interactive projects.
  • Last year's teacher was dedicated and well-intentioned but new to teaching, and with 25+ kids, I'm worried she will burn out quickly. But she has good classroom management skills and manages to teach the children even though she has way too many in her classroom.

Hope this info helps.

Transitional kindergarten at Sequoia in Oakland?

June 2014

Hello! I've recently realized that our son will be eligible for TK in the 2015 school year. He will be five in September. We are zoned for Glenview but on the border of the zone for Sequoia. I don't know if zoning matters for TK, and I do know that Glenview will be moving during construction, and currently doesn't have a TK. I've read good things generally about the Sequoia TK. But, I know the TK program is quite new, so I'm wondering if any parents of current TK Sequoia kids can give some input. Do you like the teacher? How was the transition from preschool? What were things that you liked or disliked about the class/teacher? And this is more of a TK general question... How does one decide if their child is TK ready? Thanks in advance! I appreciate your input. Allison

My son is in 1st at Sequoia and was in regular K last year with the teacher who is currently teaching TK (Tontra Love). Last I heard she would be teaching TK again next year but I can't say that with 100% certainty as I am not in a position to know. I can't speak to TK since I didn't experience it, but I can say that any child would be lucky to be in Ms. Love's class. I truly cannot say enough wonderful things about her as a teacher and a person. She is warm and loving yet sets good boundaries. She strives to meet each kid where they are at, provides differentiated instruction, and was unbelievably helpful with behavioral challenges my child had both when in her class and also this year -- never blaming or labeling and always seeing his strengths and wanting to help him succeed. Based on my experience, I really can't imagine a person more suited to teaching TK. She truly surpassed all my hopes and dreams for what his first teacher would be like. I'd also like to give a plug for Sequoia as a school. We have been very happy there and have found the teachers and administrators to be very welcoming to the diverse community served by the school. It is really a very sweet place. A Sequoia Mom

Emerson Elementary Transitional Kindergarten

June 2013

I'm a parent of a child with an early Sept. birthday who ''should'' be starting kindergarten in 2014. We are starting to investigate our school options and are hoping the Transitional Kindergarten program at Emerson Elementary in Oakland will be just what we're looking for. The reason I'm reaching out to this list is because I've had a very hard time finding any parent feedback on the program at Emerson and also feedback on what happens after TK. We plan on sending our kids to our neighborhood school for elementary (not emerson). I'm wondering if many of the TK kids leave Emerson after TK? Also if participating in TK effects your chances of getting into your neighborhood school. Thanks for your insight! Curious Parent

Not all schools have TK programs, so many students go to other schools for TK, then on to whatever school they get into for regular kindergarten. My daughter was in TK at PLACE @ Prescott, and is going to Chabot for kindergarten.

In regards to the TK program, I would describe it as what Kindergarten used to be when we were all growing up. More play-oriented, less emphasis on academics as compared to current kindergartens, and age appropriate. Having had my daughter at Emeryville Child Development Center for PRE-K, I definitely thought my daughter learned a lot more in TK, as opposed to PreK in preschool. I felt she was challenged a lot more, but the program also takes into account the younger age of the children, as opposed to being in kindergarten, so there's nap-time, etc. wendy

My daughter went to TK last year and we were very happy with Ms. E's class. She is a really great teacher and highly recommended. In the TK class had many kids coming from elsewhere, Emerson not their home school. My daughter will stay at Emerson for K, but many of her classmates went back to their home school- I would said 2/3 of the class. Like any other school, parents need to get involved and volunteer in class which we did and that helped the teacher and the kids. TK mother

My son's birthday qualified him to start kindergarten last fall so I enrolled him at our local elementary school, but then worried that he wasn't quite ready for ''big kid'' school and all the confinements that came with that. After much debate and worry, I made the decision to enroll him in the TK program at Emerson--site unseen--which is a 20-minute commute for our family. As it is a pilot program, there wasn't a lot of information going in and all the parents were nervous and didn't really know what to expect. I can tell you that we were all pleasantly surprised. What we got was an amazing teacher (Danielle Erwin) who is passionate about educating young minds. The class sits on the carpet, instead of at desks, so it is not as formal as a classroom. Ms. Erwin does a good job blending play and instruction. The transition to the full-day schedule, limited play time and short lunch period was a big adjustment but I think it's great to have a year to get used to a new routine and school environment without all of the academic pressure that kindergarten now brings. I have absolutely no regrets about enrolling my son in TK and the Emerson community is great. All of the parents are incredibly passionate, and contribute in their own ways. My son's class was approximately 23 kids, and 9 were from outside the neighborhood so will attend kindergarten at a school other than Emerson. Attending TK at Emerson will not impact your assignment as the district assigns you to the school in your neighborhood regardless. Feel free to contact me if I can answer any other questions! Emerson TK Parent Alumni

Experience with OUSD Transitional Kindergarten?

December 2012

Hi, my daughter turns five on September 12 of this coming September and i am interested in the OUSD transitional kindergarten program. Does anybody have any experience with this program? Was it good or bad? Have you heard anything about it? What school did your child attend? I'm also considering putting her in kindergarten and perhaps keeping her there for two years. Does anybody have experience with that? She would be going to Chabot. Thanks for your advice. Mom of sept birthday kid

I'm a parent of a fall birthday kid, we're enrolling her in TK next year. As I understand it, TK is prioritized for kids who have birthdays within the cut off. So for next year, that would be for kids with birthdays between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1. So if there is more space, they'd consider a Sept birthday kid. Don't know anything about trying to do two years in K, sorry. Good luck! fall birthday mama