San Diego Unified Rolls Out New Transitional Kindergarten Program Ahead Of The State – KPBS

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: Four students sitting at desks 6 feet apart as a teacher guides them through a lesson at Lafayette Elementary School in Clairemont Mesa on Oct. 13, 2020.

The San Diego Unified School District will be one of the first districts in the state to roll out the new Transitional Kindergarten program this fall.

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The San Diego Unified School District will be opening its school year to some of its youngest students ever this fall. The district is now offering transitional kindergarten, also known as “TK,” to children who turn four by Sept. 1.

It’s starting the program a few years before a new state law mandates this kind of early education in public schools across the state. The state originally planned to roll out this program in 2025, but San Diego Unified Director of Early Childhood Programs Stephanie Ceminsky told KPBS Midday Edition that the district didn’t want to wait for the mandate to take effect. “We said the urgency is now. We want our students, we want our families to have this experience and this opportunity in our schools now,” Ceminsky said.

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Ceminsky said TK is different than kindergarten and prepares children for future grade levels.

“Transitional kindergarten focuses on and embraces a perfect blend. The curriculum is in alignment between the California Preschool Learning Foundations and the kindergarten core state standards. Because of this alignment, the instructional and the physical conditions are designed with purpose, and the learning is pleasurable, challenging, active, self-motivated and process-oriented for our children,” Ceminsky said. “We blend in more focused, hands-on learning experiences where students are free to engage in a flexible manner.”

Although district officials don’t know exactly how many children might qualify for the program yet, 2,800 transitional kindergarten spots have been made available next month, with the option to open up more if needed.

The initial launch of the transitional kindergarten program this fall at San Diego Unified will be implemented at 54 locations. Ceminsky said the program will be rolled out to the entire district over the next two years.

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

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