Advice about Transitional Kindergarten in Public Schools

Parent Q&A

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  • 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? 

    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.

  • My daughter's birthday is on December 3rd. One day over the cut-off date for TK. Does anyone know how flexible the school board is for letting us enroll anyway?

    I just called the school district phone number with that exact question. They said it is a hard date but worth a call if your child is just missing it by a day! Mine was a month after the cut off. The person I spoke with had a daughter who was 2 weeks after the cut off and she had to wait a year for kinder.

    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. 

    My son was born on Dec 7. I called OUSD before he was ready to start school, and there was absolutely no flexibility. He did another year at his preschool, which luckily had a good "pre-K" program that satisfied his curiosity. 

    It depends on the district.

  • Transitional Kindergarten or Kindergarten?

    (11 replies)

    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!

    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!

  • Hi everyone, Our son was assigned to the T.K. program at LeConte for the 2018/19 school year. I'd like to hear feedback please from parents whose kids have done Transitional Kindergarten at either LeConte or at King Child Development Center. I checked the archives, I don't see anything helpful about King CDCs TK. Were considering getting on the waiting list to transfer our son to King, but I;m really hoping to get some advice and feedback from the community here first, to hear about your experiences, whether good or bad, Etc. I'm sure LeConte is nice, but we were hoping for King for several reasons. And, one of our son's preschool mates who he just "graduated" with was assigned to King... and his parents and I really were hoping for them to be together. A couple of additional notes and thoughts for us: * Our son is very bright, VERY full of energy, and definitely ready as far as academics are concerned, but still occasionally really struggles with his bigger emotions and with following directions (i.e., even though he's an exceptionally sweet and sensitive person, sometimes if he feels really angry or embarrassed it just overwhelms him and he either shuts down/hides or goes the opposite path and will lash out/hit). We take a pretty serious non-violent, "Daniel Tigers Neighborhood"; (LOL) approach in a lot of ways when it comes to helping him through these anger episodes and difficult moments, and his preschool has also been amazing in supporting him. What we do works well. But Im concerned about how teachers at school might handle this.... especially since he's going to be going from a 1:6 teacher to student ratio at his preschool all the way up to a 1:20 or more ratio at TK. Anybody have any experience with the teachers of TK at either location recently, and any thoughts on how they've handled helping kids at this age/stage learn self-discipline, how they approach reward versus punishment systems, etc.? Basically, if we get somebody who is old-school and uses taking away recess time or shaming as punishment, it is seriously not going to work. Any time that our son has excess energy and he needs to run it off, if he's not able to do that his behavior just goes downhill faster. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt... thanks in great part to our amazing preschool weve come to know that taking things away from him and forcing him to try to sit still or shaming him dont usually work well. Getting down on his level and helping him empathize, and then helping him redirect his energy if he is still having a hard time or being defiant, does work. * He also, since he was a newborn, has struggled with chronic constipation. He is under care of his pediatrician, a naturopath, and Stanford Childrens for this organic constipation, present from birth (starting at just days old, breastfed only). They still have not been able to ascertain the cause. We have a letter from from the Dr. stating that he needs to have unrestricted access to the bathroom, that he should never be instructed to not use the bathroom etc, so hopefully that should help. So Im wondering, has anybody else had any experience with either LeConte or King when there is a medical issue such as this? Do either of them use a reward system for helping reinforce potty use? Don't need advice about constipation, thanks, weve tried it all including diet/nutrition ;) Just wondering how the schools handle this or similar issues. Thanks!

    Thank you for sharing about your son to the community and about your concerns. As a local TK teacher, I wanted to add that your son's cognitive abilities, behaviors, and temperament are all common for children entering TK.

    TK is a blessing of a year, because, without it, kids would be jumping straight into kindergarten. Most TK teachers realize this and try to provide a balancing act of preschool play and choice with student skills to get students ready for kindergarten. TK teachers know they have to devote a lot of time with kids on how to express big emotions appropriately. Actually, that is the main work of TK, and your child will still get as much individualized attention as possible.

    As you mentioned, the biggest change for your son will be the teacher:student ratio. This is a hard transition, from home or preschool into TK or K, and teachers know this is hard. Your child will get less individualized attention purely because of the ratio. However, if your teacher is worth their salt (and if you don't see this happening, you can talk to them about creating something), your teacher will provide alternatives for your son to do during activities that he may have trouble focusing on and will make a logical protocol about what to do when having a big emotion. Both of these help your child grow self-control and self-monitoring as they are not about the teacher solely intervening and managing your child's mood for him. These kinds of systems take time to develop however.

    An example of both: if your son has a hard time sitting on the carpet for morning circle or read aloud, the teacher may say its Ok for your son to play quietly at a table or do jumping jacks in the back of the room vs. forcing your son to join the class. The difference from preschool is that he will not have a teacher with him during those times. If your son is consistently physical with others, the teacher might work on a specific protocol with your child about calming down, how to appropriately respond in those situations, etc. Hopefully, "punishment" through missing things will not be involved. Reward systems are en vogue now, so it is likely your son's classroom will have some kinds of reward system in place for all students.

    If things seem to continue as they have done for your son and you feel that what is going on needs to be addressed more formally, you can ask for an SST (Student Study Team) to convene. This usually consists of the classroom teacher, principal, you, and other support staff to talk about your son's specific needs and how to help him be successful in the classroom. Your teacher may feel the desire to have an individualized behavior plan and reward system for your son on top of the classroom reward system to help him navigate what is going.

    The important thing is to take a deep breath. TK is different from preschool, and the goal is to work with the teacher to help your child interact appropriately with other kids, hopefully engage with the teacher and class activities and, if that is too challenging, how to navigate appropriately doing other activities. There will be more emphasis on your child taking up the mantel of controlling his own behavior as the ratio has shifted.

    That all being said, kids are amazing. It is quite possible that your son will come to TK, with more mature peers than in preschool, and rise to the occasion concerning self-control.

  • Tech/screentime in TK programs

    (5 replies)

    Hi wise parents, we are exploring TK options for our kid. We've become aware that our neighborhood school has a set of ipads in the TK classroom, and uses them routinely for instruction (for math, for example). We've been careful to limit screentime for our child thus far, and are not thrilled to know that the kids will be on screens starting in TK if we enroll at our neighborhood school. Is this typical? Does your TK or K classroom routinely encourage/require use of computers or tablets? Do we have to start looking into private schools if we don't want our kid learning via screens starting in TK or K (and are private schools any better)? (For what it's worth, we're not generally anti-tech--we just don't think learning from computers/tablets is necessary or preferable at such a young age!)

    My daughter's K class starts the day every morning with a series of You Tube videos. Lasts about 10-20 minutes. Various songs the kids sing to about ABCs, counting, days of the week etc. This is a Berkeley public school. The other K teachers at our school don't do this but, you have no control over which teacher you get and there is no switching classes to another teacher. After talking with the principal and the district office, it seems like the teachers can use technology mostly however they want. Also, the BUSD doesn't have a good set of policies for technology use in TK-2, but does have a more developed policy for G3-5. In G3-5 they do a lot of Google classroom with laptops. 

    My daughter has had more screen-time in Kindergarten than in her entire life otherwise. 

    The State of California disagrees with you. Much of the elementary curriculum is available online (to be accessed at the teacher's discretion) and all of the standardized assessments have moved online. My child went to TK in WCCUSD in 2015-16, and they used tablets daily for about 30 minutes per session. I did think that was a little much, but adjusted the amount of screen time at home downward. In elementary school (two kids) I have observed that if the teacher is a Millennial or Gen X, they use tablets in class a lot. Baby Boomer teachers... not so much. However the amount of tech time during the school day will only increase over time, and personally I think it's fine and appropriate for older kids, say 3rd grade and up. You may not know that, for example, the reading software the district uses is dynamic - meaning, the passages and questions will get more difficult if your child is getting them right. Differentiation is built in, and I assure you, it's very hard for a live teacher to do that with 24 kids in person.

    My son has had chromebook use in class since K (his birthday did not qualify him for TK).  It is 2-3 times a week depending on the week and it has been such a great experience for him.  They are not just mindlessly watching videos or playing, but rather are introduced to educational apps and a very different way of learning.  If your child gets screen time in school daily or for a long time and it replaces instruction then it is a problem, but if it is just occasional use to supplement teacher's teaching and allows your kid to learn a certain way, it does not have to be bad.  You could ask your kid be given a book or something else to do during the ipad time, but he would be pretty upset as it is something kids generally like and look forward to.  I would find out the length of time and frequency at which your kid gets screen time in the classroom before you make a change in his education over this. 

    My son is in TK at an OUSD school and does not have access to electronic devices at school. I’m not sure how typical it is. I was also bothered when I toured schools that touted computer and tablet usage in the classroom. We allow our son significant screen time at home, and I have no interest in him getting more at school!

    I think in Public schools you might generally find less tech....

  • TK question for future

    (2 replies)

    Hi There- jumping the gun a bit, what can l say!  My son was born sept 30 2014, just turned 3.  Does anyone know if the TK program will still exist in 2 years?  If it does not exist, do children do another year of preschool since they will not be old enough for kindergarten? We are zoned for Mira Visat school, but from what I can see they do not have a TK program. How have other children done transitioning from preschool or daycare, the to a different TK school, then a year later changing to a different assigned school for kindergarten? Seems like a lot of change for a little kid!

    Hi! I am sure that TK will still exist- it is a great thing for schools, IMHO. My answer also goes a bit beyond what you asked to address other general questions for kids with Fall B-Days. I am Mom to 2 sons, born in October (11 yrs old) and November (14 years old) who are both now the oldest in their classes rather than the youngest. With my older son, TK did not yet exist and we had the option of sending him to start Kinder at age 4. We resisted, yay!!! and we have absolutely no regrets. Read up on this and you will find that kids who are a bit older have more capacity to thrive in school. The way that we teach school, for the most part ,in this country is not conducive to most young children's desires (-: so being a bit more mature is going to benefit them through 12th grade. My oldest went to a Spanish immersion preschool for 3 years and then started Kinder. My youngest was with a nanny at home 3x a week, then at 3 yrs old started at a 3x a week neighborhood home-based daycare, then at age 5 went to TK 3x a week, then on to Kinder the next year. As long as they are in a good place, with loving caregivers/teachers, and their home life stable, I don't think that this is too much change for them. Young kids are resilient, yes? My youngest son had a great experience at all of those places. Now, at that time, the biggest concerns were voiced from my in-laws: by keeping our sons from starting Kinder early, they were going to be bored in school. You know what? Your kids are gonna be bored at times in school no matter what, weren't you?? Ha ha. But what I found is that the other kids looked up to my sons as they could already write, spell, read and the other kids loved this and it made my sons feel great to be sought out to help. I volunteered in their classrooms for a total of 8 years, and I have seen so many amazing kids!!!! But you know what? In Kindergarten, it was very easy for me to pick out which kids were the youngest. It had nothing to do with intelligence. They were most always very smart little guys and gals...but they were incapable of the amount of focus and self-control needed to be successful in Kinder. 3 of those kids ended up repeating Kinder, again, not because of intelligence, but because of immaturity. It's ok to be a little kid who flies around and has a lot of energy!!! Why do we have to mold them into little adults too soon? Anyway, that has been my philosophy. I have a late August birthday and was always one of the youngest in my grade and although I got A's, I always felt "behind the curve." Looking back, it had more to do with physical and emotional maturity. Also, again what is our big rush to grow up our little ones? The outlook for their generation is not super rosy after they graduate high school or college, right? Why rush them through the system. OK- one last tidbit- parents of 3 and 4 year olds, pace yourself! This is a very long journey, enjoy it!


    Unfortunately without knowing the states budget for two years out, no one can be for sure. A couple years ago the TK program had been threatened to be eliminated due to budget cuts. However, the success of TK was so great there was such a big push to keep it and thankfully it's still around. With that in mind, I think it is safe to assume it will be there for your son. As far as if it is eliminated, what happens for those children with late birthdays, I'm just speculating here but I would assume the CA state law on the cut off date would be shifted as it is in many other states. So instead of your child needing to be born on/before Sept 1st of that year to enter kindergarten it would be moved to something like mid Nov. And those who are past that date would probably do another year of preschool.

    Now as far as your school- not every school has a TK program. In fact there are usually only 1-3 schools within the entire district that offer TK. So yes, sadly if your assigned school for K doesn't offer TK you will switch in the first two years of public school. Now this is a reason why some families skip TK and keep their child in preschool/daycare until K starts. However, unless you are in a lottery system, keep in mind that all those children in your area that are TK students should go to the same TK school with your son and then switch with him during K. Which means your child will have some classmates/friends from TK that enter K at the new school with him making the switch of schools a bit easier.

    I will say great job at looking so far ahead. Due to the limited amount of TK schools they fill up fast. Since TK is not required by the state, those who enroll late risk missing out on a spot. I definitely suggest reaching out to the school around this time next year to learn when they start enrolling for TK so you don't miss out. Good luck to you and your son!

  • TK enrollment for August 30 birthday?

    (1 reply)

    Has anyone heard of a Walnut Creek/ MDUSD elementary that allows kids to enroll in TK if they are born before Sept 2? My son will turn 5 on August 30, 2018 and is therefore technically supposed to enroll in kindergarten next year. One of his pre-school teachers told me that if an elementary school has extra space in their TK classes, they will often allow kids with August and July birthdays enroll. Has anyone heard of this happening? And if so, which schools? I am on the fence as to whether he will be ready for kindergarten next year and was thinking this could be a good middle of the road option.  Thanks in advance for any thoughts or information! 

    As the parent of two fall birthday kids who researched TK extensively, I believe the info you got from the teacher is probably correct, although having "space available" isn't something you can count on. My out of range son was offered a spot in a district TK program the day before school started, but we ended up declining it and doing kindergarten, for which he was (and remains) the youngest in the cohort (it's been fine, someone's got to be the youngest!). My daughter did do TK two years later, and almost all the boys in her TK class were much less ready for a structured school environment than the girls. I'd say chat with your son's preschool teacher next spring, and consider their input before getting into it with the district. (who will not be able to tell you much until August anyway)

  • Hello,

    My daughter will be 5 yrs old at the end of October.  She is required to enter TK (transitional kindergarten) because she will not meet the age requirement at the time school starts in August.

    I do not want her to go to TK because she is more advanced academically and is probably doing some Grade 1 work.  As far as socially, she is currently in a multi age class and her social skills is not more different then her TK and K peers.

    I have spoken to the principal but there is a numbers game and filling vacancies in the schools.  She claims we can have a meeting to access her for K once she turns 5 but I am sure that the class will be full and no space available to move her.  Also, is there any possibility of moving her from TK to 1st grade?

    Any suggestions?  Thoughts?

    Thank you 

    I feel like I have to post this response every month or so for parents who have the same concern. 

    Here was my experience with TK: It is an excellent program that basically amounts to your kid getting an extra year of kindergarten. Yes, at times, it can be tiresome for a child with academic advantages, but if you are in a good school, you can talk to the teacher about giving your child more challenging work. The more important piece of the puzzle, and one that many parents with academically-advanced children forget about, is your child's emotional development. It may seem like you need to push, push, push to have her placed in a higher grade, but she will then be the youngest and under a ton of pressure to behave in ways that may not be developmentally appropriate. 

    My experience was this: When kinder started for my child, I was very irritated that she was doing kinder "again," even though I had been shown how different the curriculum was. She complained that she was bored. However, when I spoke to her teacher about putting her in first, she said, "Do me a favor, come to the school and watch her along with the other students. Look at her attention span, watch how she behaves, see if you think she would do well if she were dropped into a first-grade environment." I did as she asked and I also asked a friend of mine who volunteered in the class to also watch the same thing and give me her honest impressions / reality check. At every point, my child was developmentally in line with her cohort. Kindergarteners walk around school like little peeping chickens, looking around, still getting a feel for the place. A year later, in first graders, they are laser-focused by comparison.

    Things are not perfect for my daughter; it can be as difficult being towards the oldest in the class as the youngest. There are struggles either way. But this thing of trying to push your kid ahead, or even trying to skip a grade? I really recommend you drop it. It's not good for your child's emotional health. And they district will NOT go for it -- they did this in our parents' generation and often had disastrous consequences trying to rush kids through emotional development that they need time to process. 

    Please don't try to push her ahead. You can't do it, and it's not good for your kid or her classmates. 

    Is your child reading chapter books by herself already?  Is your child able to understand and do all 4 math functions?  If not, please understand that there will be kids in kindergarten that can do those things in your public school.  In good schools, the teachers are able to differentiate and keep kids challenged and learning no matter what their incoming abilities.  School is not a race.  Unless your child is profoundly gifted, do your child a favor and follow the age guidelines.

    I have two kids with late summer/fall birthdays and we "held back" both of them. Over the years I have questioned this decision on and off, as all parents do. But my oldest is going to graduate from BHS next month and it's become clear that we made the right decision. So much development happens in just one year! As we navigated through the college admission process, he showed maturity, confidence, and thoughtfulness. Compared to the previous year, it was striking. I can now say with confidence that he is ready to leave the nest (sob!). By giving him the "gift of an extra year," we allowed him to mature at his own pace and find his own way. Getting along with other people, learning how to deal with frustrating situations, and having fun are just as important as academics, if not more so. FWIW, my kids were early readers (chapter books in preschool) but guess what? Turns out most kids are all caught up by 3rd-5th grade. Children don't all develop at the same rate, but they all usually do the same things: crawl, walk, run, read, etc. Same goes for emotional development.  Let your kid enjoy her life. 

    I think it sounds like you have a good principal and you're on track. My daughter turned 5 in late November of the year we had her in TK. I had thought going into TK that we would move her midyear to K because she's so smart. But she took some months to adjust to the school setting and start focusing. By May, she was testing in reading at a 2nd grade level, so we had an SST meeting with our home school's principal, who approved accelerating to 1st after the completion of TK - skipped kindergarten. Acceleration is entirely at the principal's discretion. My best advice is to get her in TK, and then yes, if her performance justifies it, meet with the teacher and principal after her 5th birthday to discuss midyear acceleration, or what it would take to approve skipping kindergarten by the end of the school year. I personally think it would be a very rare 5 year old who would be able to skip both TK & K to jump right to 1st - there's homework, etc., and a lot of expectations about classroom behavior in first grade that TK/K teachers don't have. However, skipping K has worked out great so far and I recommend that year in TK to any parent whose child has a fall birthday.

    Thank you for all your responses.  Just a point of clarification, I meant skipping TK to K or skipping from K to 1st but definitely not skipping from TK to 1st.  I would definitely not want this because this would be too much.  For me skipping TK to K is reasonable.  Sorry for any confusion. 

    Think about how things will be different when she is in 3rd, or 4th grade. Social emotional differences between a 2nd grader and a third grader are big! I wouldn't want my daughter "aged up" any more that we already do to young girls. Hope that makes sense - just thinking about it from the perspective of a 3rd grader who is starting to deal with lots of social, emotional issues of tween girls.

  • Our daughter misses the 2017 kindergarten birthday cut-off by 35 days.  She will already have completed 3 years of pre-school by next fall and we are trying to petition BUSD for a waiver from mandatory T-K.  She is already ahead of age in terms of reading, writing, math, and maturity (thanks to older sisters).  We are seeking advice from parents who have tried successfully/unsuccessfully to petition BUSD?  Otherwise, do people have other options to have our daughter start kindergarten early?

    Why do you need to waive out of TK before even trying it? My daughter also had had 3 years of preschool before doing TK last year. I thought she was so advanced that we would be petitioning the district midway to move her up to K. Well, turns out my daughter wasn't so sure about "real school" and basically didn't start making an effort until February; we did not feel justified in discussing acceleration with her teacher until the May parent conference. They do STAR Early Literary Assessments with the kids, so you will see those scores and can decide from there when and where to start pushing for acceleration. Long story short, we got her promoted to skip K and she is doing great in 1st now at our home school. So for her, TK served the role of K, and you might want to give some thought to if that will work for you too. TK was at a different school site and it wasn't incredibly convenient with the schedule for our older child already enrolled at our home school, but we sucked it up for that year. Now, even if you know your daughter to be super smart, but she isn't testing above kindergarten level, you may not be successful in advancing her, and perhaps rightfully so as we saw with both kids, you really have to be a competent early reader to start off first grade on the right foot. They do word problems in math, for example, if you can't read well, you start suffering with math too.

    yes, I agree with the previous poster. I was so annoyed that my daughter "had" to go to TK and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. Though she was pretty advanced academically, it took her a while to acclimate socially. And again, I thought the "second year of kindergarten," aka her actual kindergarten year, would be boring for her (and it was, a bit, academically, but her teacher made up for it with more challenging work for her) -- more importantly, she again needed the time to catch up socially. I keenly remember, with embarrassment, how I was nagging her teacher to move her up to first grade, and she said, "Look, follow us around a bit, ask your friend who volunteers in the classroom. Kinder kids are very different from first graders; they look around when walking thru the hall, their attention is very different." I did as she asked and sure enough she just fit socially into her kinder cohort. By this year (2nd grade) she was completely both socially and academically in the right place and is doing great. All this to say: Don't knock TK. It's very valuable. We had a wonderful experience with it. 

    Is your daughter socially mature? How is her attention span? Those are the questions I would ask myself before trying to advance her to K. When I was a first grade teacher I had a child in my class who skipped K because she was reading and doing math beyond her years, but the mother completely left out telling our school that her child was incapable of dealing with difficult social situations. For instance, if a child cut in front of her in line, or if she was unable to do art projects as well as her peers (lots of cutting and following directions), or it didn't go her way, she would pout or cover her ears or get angry. Her peers eventually noticed that she was immature, and she had difficulty making close friends, which exacerbated the social problem. Do not underestimate the gift of time as far as building your child's social competence. Being able to hang with your peers socially at school is huge. Teachers can always tell who is the young one in their class, even if parents can't.  

  • Bridge-K Programs in El Cerrito area

    (3 replies)

    Hello, we have a 4 year old boy with a summer birthday, who was born over 3 months premature, so we are strongly considering delaying K for one more year. He is good at sitting, paying attention, listening to directions etc. but is a little bit delayed in terms of fine motor skills. We live in El Cerrito and we are looking into private TK programs since I am not sure he will be eligible for public WCCUSD TK, even though he was supposed to be born in November. Nomura's Bridge K program is on the short list, and I would love to hear reviews from other parents who have enrolled their child in that Bridge K class. Any other recommendations for Bridge K programs convenient to El Cerrito?

    Also, have any of you enrolled your child in kindergarten with the expectation that he would do 2 years instead of 1? That has been brought up to us as an option but I wonder if that is going to be difficult for our kid, making friends and then having them move on while he repeats. I would love to hear from other parents who have been in this situation. Thanks so much!

    I am a parent of a) a fall birthday boy who made the cutoff to enter K by one day, and b) a fall birthday girl who went to TK at Harding last year. You are 8 months out from starting kindergarten, and lots could happen in terms of your child's progression in that time. "A little bit delayed in fine motor skills" = no big deal, in terms of what I saw in the cohorts of both my son's kindergarten and my daughter's TK. Being able to sit still and listen to directions is HUGE. 50%+ of the kids in TK/K classes are still working on that. (and most of them are boys) I found TK & K to be very comparable in terms of academics & preparation for grade school. My advice is to register your child for K at your neighborhood school in January as usual. Then around May, make a preliminary decision about his readiness. If you still feel like he won't be ready on August 20 for kindergarten (and if he can sit still, follow directions, and recognizes the letters of the alphabet and their beginning sounds, to me that is ready), start calling the WCCUSD Preschool Office and asking to get on the list for "out of range" TK placement for fall. I did this for my fall birthday son, in a panic, and was offered a spot in the TK at Stege (not our neighborhood school, but that's where they had a spot) for him the week before school started; however, by then I was calmed down, placed him in kindergarten at age 4 (5 weeks before his 5th birthday), and we haven't looked back. Here is a tip. Kindergarten teachers are used to boys who can't sit still. If you have a boy who CAN sit still, even if he's otherwise young/immature, they will adore him, and that is a helpful start to a school career. Now that my older child is in 3rd grade, I detect in him and his friends a slight stigma about kids who are "too big" for their grade, either their parents held them back or the school did, and they look different (older). Not their fault, but it is apparent. So I personally would not plan to have my child do 2 years of K; try very hard to get into TK if it looks like that's the best placement, regardless of which school it ends up at; you can always return to your neighborhood school for K.

    Our kiddo is the same age as yours (Aug 27, 2012). We have her at Nomura, and there are two classes that are substantially similar, though one class is the Bridge-K. We are considering having her stay at Nomura for another year, even though it won't be much of a jump from what she is learning now. We're also concerned that she's shy and not quite ready - but for 5 days, she'd be unquestionably in the next grade. We really like Nomura, and there is a lot of time for her to play with children of all ages on the playground. We LOVED the outside space, which is why we chose Nomura over other preschools.

    We're asking similar questions to other parents and also to our adult friends who are August babies themselves. What seems to be the case is that most people don't regret what they did for their children. My cousin held back both her August babies (one in kinder and one in 6th grade) and it seems like it might be easier to just have them in preschool one more year because preschool gives them another year of more play-based time, versus a year of a more academic-model. Our adult friends are split. The shy and introverted folks seemed to hate being the youngest and found it harder to make friends, and the extroverted ones were totally fine with being the youngest and didn't care. This is a small sample group, but I think it's helpful to think about your child's temperament, too. Good luck!

    I can not say enough good things about the Bridge-K at Tehiyah Day school.  It is everything a BK should be and I couldn't be happier that my son had the gift of his year there!  Tehiyah is a Jewish school but there is a diverse community of families including those who are not Jewish. Feel free to contact me via my username, I'd be happy to talk. 

  • Berkeley TK or one more year of preschool?

    (4 replies)

    Hi Parents!  We are trying to decide whether to send our son to TK at Malcolm X or continue in his current preschool for one more year and I'd love to hear from current or recent TK families. 

    Thank you so much! These decisions are hard I really appreciate your thoughts!

    Fall Birthday Mama

    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.

    My daughter was in TK last year. A different district, though – we are in Albany. We were very happy with the TK program. It was not the same as the K program. The kids weren't required to learn how to read, although they did go through the alphabet and were encouraged to write phonetically. They had some free play times as well as structured activities. I thought it was a perfect program for this age group – a bit more advanced/challenging than a typical preschool but not quite as demanding as Kindergarten.

    This really depends on the kid.  My daughter had an September birthday and we put her in her preschool's Pre-K program.  That was the right decision for her; she was (and is) a very bright kid but needed extra time to mature socially.  Other kids might be ready to start.  I would ask Malcom X about the number of fall birthdays they typically have in their kindergartens.  And talk to the preschool teacher about where your child might fit on the kindergarten-readiness scale.

    Thank you all!  This is helpful advice and just nice to hear that others are making these decisions too, and that it all works out in the end. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Future plans for California transitional kindergarten

June 2014

Re: Transitional kindergarten at Sequoia in Oakland?

No feedback on the Sequoia program specifically--we are looking at TK for 2016 so curious to hear!--but more broadly, keep an eye on what's happening at the state level. Senate Bill 837 was recently passed by the State Senate. This bill eliminates the current TK program and reintroduces it as PreK for all low-income four-year-olds. Beginning in 2015, children born in the Sept-Dec window (current TK group) who are not low-income would no longer be eligible. (The original bill was for PreK for all four-year-olds, but to cut costs they limited it to low-income, as defined by free and reduced lunch eligibility.) I have very mixed thoughts on this for many reasons, not the least of them that recent studies of Head Start have shown far greater benefits for low-income children when the programs are mixed income. The bill still needs to make it to the governor, but it's definitely worth watching, as it may mean that TK/PreK is no longer an option for your family. Another prospective TK mama

Transitional K for Dec 2 birthday girl?

May 2014

Recently talk about TK (Transitional Kindergarten) has come up among friends and several assured us that we were in a good spot because of instead of having to pay for an additional year of preschool, our child will be able to go to TK since she's a winter baby!

Even though we have a few more years to really think about this before she'll be going to one, I decided to look up more information about TK since so much of it is new to me. Turns out she's born the day AFTER the cutoff date (but I was in labor before then, I swear! Does that count?!) which is December 2.

Any thoughts or advice on what our options are? Is there really a super duper strict cutoff date? Do we not stand a chance? Do we fudge the birth cert? Is there any movement or reality on TK for all (4 year olds) by the time she hits that age (in a few years)?? decembermama

The cutoff was changed to September 2 at every Public School I am aware of. It used to be Dec. 2 but not anymore. Ellen

We also have a TK-eligible kid so I've followed this with interest. First--yes, keep an eye on the state budget negotiations this year and next. TK for all four-year-olds is a hot topic and while it's not in the currently proposed budget, it's the top issue identified by the Democrats this year going into budget negotiations. So if you're a few years out, it could be a different ball game by then. As far as the cutoff, how strict it is varies by district, but many will accept children who just miss the cutoff (in either direction) if there are spots remaining once all of the Sept/Oct/Nov children have been placed. So I definitely wouldn't give up! Another prospective TK mama

You need to call your school district and talk to the program manager in its preschool division to ask what your district's approach is. My understanding is that currently each district has flexibility to extend the TK window, at least as far as the state is concerned. The May revise of the proposed 2014-15 state budget does not have any changes (or expansion) of TK programs, but you can keep an eye on it as it progresses to see if the Legislature's Democrats are successful in including universal pre-K (Gov Brown has rejected their proposal thus far). In the WCCUSD, I had many conversations with the preschool program manager about getting my son in TK (his bday falls just before the start date, so he was eligible for kindergarten), and they kept an interest list for kids outside the range. However, there's not much point in having those discussions more than the fall prior to when you want your child to start, because it does change year to year.

At the present time, the only children who are admitted to TK's are those who would have been able to attend kindergarten, if it had not been for the change in the cut-off for beginning kindergarten (so, kids born in September, October, November). Previously, those kids would have started kindergarten when they were not quite 5, but now they have to wait until the following year. Your child, born December 3, would not have been able to go to kindergarten previously either. So, currently, they would not qualify for TK. There is some movement toward the idea of TK for all-- I think that would be awesome! But I'm not sure that it's going to happen. It's going to be incredibly expensive and though the state isn't in quite the dire financial straits it was a few years ago, we're not exactly rolling in the money either. So, although it would be great, I wouldn't really plan on it!

You're kidding about fudging the birth certificate, right? You wouldn't start your daughter's official schooling with a big, fat lie, would you? Sometimes you just get the shorter end of the stick. Not everyone can have the perfect birthday (which now is probably sometime in October--you get to be one of the oldest in your class and get free TK for a year). Not everyone can be good at math and a super athlete and highly attractive, either. You get what you get (and you don't get upset). You might find yourself in a wonderful preschool situation that you don't want to trade in for free TK anyway. Don't start worrying about TK before your baby or toddler has even started preschool! Mom of 3, with very different birthdays