Transitional Kindergarten in West Contra Costa School District

Parent Q&A

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  • The school website writes that incoming kindergartners need to be 5 years old by September 1 of that year. My daughter's birthday is in early November, so I was wondering if she may still enroll at age 4 years and 10 months? Or we have to write until the next year? Do they provide TK? I can't find any info on their website. 

    Thanks in advance for sharing your experience!

    Hi. All the info about West Contra Costa TK is here:

You didn't mention which district you are in, but we registered in WCCUSD and the cutoff date was determined by the registration software. I had to upload a birth certificate at the time of application. The computer then sorted the TK and K kids into the right class based on their birthday. Since TK is optional, and so many parents within the date range want in and cannot enroll due to capacity, I doubt they would let your daughter enroll. My daughter also did not fall in the enrollment dates for TK and was sad when her friends did get to go. In our local school, they have 24 spots, and the principal said usually 100 eligible families apply. 

Now, if you are in a different county, they may still have a human who determines the cutoff. There may also be less of a demand where you are. 

Private schools, (I have heard from friends) are much more flexible on dates. 

I just had a daughter complete TK in the WCCUSD; so, a different district, but still may be useful for your thought process. TK was almost identical to the K curriculum, just spaced out differently. The TKers were expected to act like kindergarteners in terms of amount of time sitting, social-emotional behavior, etc. They get report cards! As a parent, you are immersed in the school's culture and schedule. If as a family, you're ready for "big school", and your child can handle the classroom self-management, fine. Free is free! But if any of you feel unready - and I saw lots of kids, mostly boys, who probably were not ready for the first 6 months of the school year - feel free to wait out the year in preschool. Kindergarten will cover all the same academic material.

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Full Transitional Kindergarten in WCCUSD

Feb 2015

Hi all, we are looking for some help with the transitional kindergarten situation in West Contra Costa County USD. We live one block from Harding Elementary in El Cerrito. My husband went to sign my son up for T-K last week and found out that the 20 spots available at Harding filled up in the first 2 hours of sign ups. The District is now telling us to send our son to the T-K at Stege Elementary in Richmond. We don't want to do this for numerous reasons including concerns about safety, lack of convenience compared to Harding, and lack of continuity from T-K to K. Has anyone dealt with T-K issues in El Cerrito/Kensington before? From what I understand of the law, asking us to send him to a school in the same district but different city is probably legal as each district has to provide spots for all eligible children and they are technically doing that. However, it seems like 20 spots at Harding for all of the kids in El Cerrito and Kensington is clearly deficient. That's kids from 4 elementary schools all funneling into one 20 person T-K class. Are there any parents out there who dealt with this previously? Any who are in the same boat as us now? Thx in advance! Marne

My opinion is that there should not be transitional kindergarten at all. Why are we funding a program only for kids lucky enough to have been born within a 2 month period? The kids who get to do this have a significant advantage over those who don't. It doesn't make any sense to me and I'm very irritated that school funds are diverted to this discriminatory program. You should count yourself lucky that your child is offered a spot anywhere. Count your blessings

Hi Marne, We are in the exact same situation with the WCCUSD TK program. I began researching the TK program about 2.5 years ago and began reaching out and calling the school district for information about 16 months ago. I explicitly asked in one of my several phone calls to the Early Learning Program at the district what time we needed to show up for registration and was told if you show up that day you will be fine. We showed up over an hour early, waited for 4 hours in line to be told we didn't make the cut and there were not enough spots for us and there was no wait list. When we got there, there was a line around the block with people camped out with blankets and camping chairs.

We are in between a rock and a hard place and have no idea where to send our son for next year (he already has done the Pre-K curriculum at his current preschool, we are also not comfortable with the alternative they offered, and his birthday is just one day after the cut off for kindergarten). Only 20 spots for 4 feeder schools is really ridiculous and it is something that needs to be public information but was never told to us in any of our calls.

Sadly, I am not sure there is anything we can do except perhaps work together with the district to push them to open up more spots. We have written several letters and called several times since and still not heard anything back. I would happy to talk to you and see if we can work together on a solution. Feel free to email me at lilmissduckie(at) Perhaps with more parents in our situation working together we will have a better chance of being heard.

And a note for other parents next year trying to get into the TK program at WCCUSD: if you want to be sure your child will get a spot in your local elementary school you really should show up at 6 or 7am and be fully prepared to be there for many many hours. You should show up with all of your information super organized and be prepared with all of the extra information you can think of (down to the address of the hospital your child was born in) for the very long forms you will have to fill out on the spot. I truly hope we can find a solution for this problem and it's good to know we are not the only ones dealing with this. Justine

Welcome to the WCCUSD, where you should never be surprised by anything the administration does! My personal belief is that the district board and staff do not care one little bit about middle class families getting to conveniently access TK. [And in my reasonable moods, I have to admit that they may have a point - low income families have access to publicly funded preschool, middle and upper class families pay for it but can access it. Why indeed should a small cadre of kids get a special year?] Tour the Stege TK - I have heard good things about that classroom and it may in fact be where we are next year too. And - since it does sound like you are new to the district - I will just say that some of the schools are more prone to rumors than others. Don't believe everything you hear secondhand.

Quality of WCCUSD TK program?

Jan 2015

Can any current parents speak to the quality of the WCCUSD's TK program? We would be at Harding's site, but the curriculum is supposedly the same at all the sites. Thanks! TK mom?

My child attends the TK program at Harding and we have been very happy. My child is learning reading, writing, math and science. The students also learn to be kind and respectful to each other. The teacher is excellent. She is warm and has a great rapport with the students. I really like her methods of teaching reading and writing. She is very dedicated to seeing that all the students succeed now and in the future. anon

Madera Pre- K Enrollment?

Sept 2013

Hello, My daughter will be turning four in mid September and will miss the cut off for kindergarten by a couple of weeks. Currently, she is in preschool at a montessori school that offers a kindergarten class that she could attend next year and then test into first grade. She has a few classmates that are currently doing this. I'm looking into all options and have heard that Madera has a pre-k class (although I think they attend Harding??). Has anyone had their children in a similar situation? Have you been through the pre-K class at Madera? How was it? If so, should I register for this fall? Any help is appreciated! Thanks, soon to be Madera mom

I believe transitional kindergarten for kids who just missed the cut off for kindergarten was triggered by state law. School districts are offering it at some but not all of their schools because their aren't enough kids involved to fill classrooms at every school. West Contra Costa Unified had planned to start one at Madera this school year. But the school board voted over the summer to reduce class size in k -3 which resulted in a new primary class at Madera, leaving no room for the transitional kindergarten, so it opened instead at Harding. A flier, obviously printed before the switch, is here:

If I understood your message, your child will turn 5 in mid-September 2014, which qualifies her to attend public school TK, if you choose it (it's optional, as is regular kindergarten, BTW). Register her at your neighborhood school during the regular K registration time, which is in January or February. In the WCCUSD, they consolidate sites, so you won't necessarily know where it will be located until right before school starts. (This year, it was going to be at Madera for all the EC/Kensington schools, then suddenly got switched to Harding.) Then you go to your neighborhood school for K & beyond. EC Mom