Is Transitional Kindergarten Right for your Child?

Tulsa area schools provide a transitional kindergarten option for kids not quite ready for the rigors of kindergarten.

Five-year-old Edison has wiggle room in school. Literally. With a late fall birthday, Edison’s parents chose to place him in Broken Arrow’s Arrow Heights Baptist WEE Ministry Preschool’s transitional kindergarten class this year. The extra year of classroom time before attending kindergarten allows Edison to experience hands-on, play-based learning where wiggling is encouraged.

During WEE transitional kindergarten Spanish class, Edison wears a Mexican poncho and proudly acts as leader for the day. His seven classmates sit in a circle on the floor shaking maracas and singing “Feliz Navidad.” At the end of the song Edison must gather the maracas from his classmates and put them on a shelf. The task takes a bit of time because Edison and his classmates twist, turn and roll on the floor. But the Spanish teacher is patient and continues the lesson once everyone is still.

“They are just a bit younger than the kids in the kindergarten class, and it shows,” laughs Laura Abert, WEE Ministry Preschool’s transitional kindergarten teacher.

Transitional kindergarten, a play-based bridge year between preschool and kindergarten, uses a modified kindergarten curriculum focused on social and emotional development. Children who turn age 5 in the fall of their kindergarten year (September 1 – December 1) are good candidates for the extra year.

While some of the children in transitional kindergarten may be ready academically for kindergarten, many need time to work on impulse control and social skills.

“Holding a child back in pre-K keeps that child from experiencing a more advanced learning environment,” Abert said. “In transitional kindergarten, we spend the first semester with advanced pre-K objectives and the second semester working on early kindergarten objectives.”

WEE Director Soni Brown said her teachers saw a need for a classroom specifically designed for young 5-year-olds.

“These students are not quite ready for the rigors of kindergarten but are ready to spend more time at school as compared to a child in preschool.”

Transitional kindergarten students at WEE go to school from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., four days a week. There is no rest time and they enjoy lunch together either in the classroom or on the playground.

Class time, said Abert, includes phonics, pre-writing and number sense.  “Activities are designed to hold the interests of the students and help them develop academic skills and practice working together.”

WEE uses the A Beka Christian curriculum in the classroom as well as the Handwriting Without Tears writing program. Children also attend Spanish and music class each day and ride trikes and play with balls in the school’s gymnasium.

Abert’s daughter Sarah is a kindergarten teacher at WEE. She will inherit her mom’s transitional kindergarten students next year. “We can pass on information to each other, so I will be able to help her understand how each child learns,” Abert said.

Tulsa’s Miss Helen’s Private School also offers a transitional kindergarten program referred to as the “Rainbow Dreamers” class. School Executive Director Lynda Wingo said the transitional year includes a kindergarten phonics reading curriculum, a hands-on math curriculum, Handwriting Without Tears writing program as well as science, Spanish, music, art and physical education.

“We have four classes of 10 students in Rainbow Dreamers this year,” Wingo said. “The children grow developmentally through the year and are challenged age appropriately in their academics. It is all about success without stress.”

Categories: Education – Early Years