What is Transitional Kindergarten?
Transitional kindergarten, sometimes referred to as TK, is a publicly funded program for 4-year-olds who turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2. Transitional kindergarten is designed to be a bridge between preschool and kindergarten. Children who are enrolled in transitional kindergarten can enroll in traditional kindergarten classes the following year. Although there is no mandated curriculum, transitional kindergarten is modeled on a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate. Districts and schools have flexibility with how to implement curriculum, but the California Department of Education states that transitional kindergarten is meant to closely follow guidelines in the California Preschool Learning Foundations developed by the department. Districts are expected to use those guidelines as a foundation for instruction.
Transitional kindergarten is not mandatory in California. Parents decide whether to enroll their children in preschool or transitional kindergarten. California does not require children to be enrolled in public school until their 6th birthday, and at that point, individual school districts decide whether students enrolling for the first time should be in kindergarten or 1st grade.