I am the parent of a child who will start kindergarten next fall. She will be my second in school and this time around is a totally different experience. There has been a lot of change in the past 4 years since going through this process with my son. The public schools have changed and continue to change, private schools have grown and the economy is not great, limiting choice. One thing that has not changed is the popularity of Transitional Kindergarten/Junior Kindergarten.
I have found several descriptions of what TK/JK is and so the one that I am going to give is a combination of them. Transitional Kindergarten acts as a bridge between Preschool and Kindergarten programs. It is for children who may be eligible for kindergarten but can benefit from another year to grow and mature. It is also an ideal program for children who are young fives or might need another year to develop socially or academically before moving on to a kindergarten program. Children in transitional kindergarten will strive toward similar goals as to those of the kindergarten program, but will work at a modified pace, which provides more one on one and lower ratios.
We became well acquainted with TK when going through the kindergarten process with our son. He has an early May birthday and evidently for boys that is borderline with beginning Kindergarten in private school but ok for public. We had several schools tell us to TK him but others who said he was ready but would be among the youngest is his class. In the end my husband and I went with our “gut” and decided he was ready. Socially and emotionally, he was great and that was our deciding factor. We have not regretted our decision.
Our daughter with her February birthday is beginning Kindergarten and there is no decision making involved. I guess, my advice is to trust yourselves as parents if you are facing this decision. Get advice from other parents, knowing that each child is different. We had a difficult time because of what the private schools were telling us and then realized that they weren’t talking about our son as a whole learner, rather as an age and that we shouldn’t allow that to influence our decision and it opened our eyes to how many educational options we have in this city.
Many preschools offer TK programs. If this is the route you are going to take, check several out. Find the one that you think best matches your child and his needs. I know it is cliché but I think the saying is true that I haven’t heard a parent say that they regretted their decision to TK. If anyone of you Smarty Readers has also been through this process, please comment and share your experience. We would love to hear how you approached this issue.