I have been fielding so. many. emails. questions, and concerns (!) about this recent Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Age Expansion announcement LAUSD just dropped on us.
…Should we stay? Should we go? Where is it? Who has it? Who doesn’t have it? Why don’t they have it? Where’s the LIST? What will it look like? What will that do to our current preschool if everyone leaves? Will my child be the only 4 year-old left? Why are only *some* programs offering this? What do you mean they changed the age? Now we’ll never win that (insert oversubscribed school) lottery! How will they manage this enormous age range in one classroom? Why didn’t they tell us this earlier? But it’s FREE so that’s good, right? …
Please excuse me if I dump all my thoughts onto this blog post, so I can direct you all to one centralized place of information.
Let’s talk about this recent LAUSD TK announcement, and in true GoMamaGuide fashion, I’ll break it all down for you.
First of all, what hasn’t changed?
The Kinder age cutoff: is still your child turns 5 by Sept 1. This is the fall your child can start Kindergarten. This is CA state law, impacting all public schools throughout the state of California, and is not affected by LAUSD’s recent TK announcement.
TK is, and always has been, an OPTIONAL program. Meaning, it is up to you whether you want to explore it. Or not.
TK is not a way to bypass Kindergarten. It is an optional preparatory year, followed by a full year of Kindergarten.
What is TK?
For the past decade, TK was a small program available at your local zoned elementary school, to children with fall birthdays who just missed the Sept 1 Kinder cutoff, who turned 5 between Sept 2 and Dec 2. TK enrollment fluctuated from year to year depending on the neighborhood children’s birthdates. It was not widely available, and in some years there were not enough fall birthday children to fill a whole classroom with a dedicated TK teacher. Many times it was a “split class” where one teacher had a cluster of Kinders doing their curriculum, and another cluster of TK-ers in the same classroom doing their TK or pre-Kinder curriculum. Offered as a full day program, on a district elementary school campus, with a focus on pre-literacy acquisition and pre-math skills, TK was created to provide children an early childhood education, who might not have the opportunity or means to do so otherwise. Indie charters also began offering TK, with their own particular methodology, with a fixed number of seats to lottery off each year, with priority going to siblings.
Last spring, LAUSD announced they would be expanding the TK eligibility age range by 2 more months, so children who turned 5 between Sept 2 and Feb 2 could attend these TK programs in the 2022-23 school year. Other programs, such as charters, followed suit.
What is changing?
With a state-wide push (and additional state and federal funding) to eventually expand TK to all 4 year-olds by 2025, most school districts have adopted a gradual TK age expansion rollout, adding two months of eligibility per year over the next three years, which looks like this:
Gradual TK Expansion Plan:
TK in 2021: Turns 5 between Sept 2 and Dec 2
TK in 2022: Turns 5 between Sept 2 and Feb 2
TK in 2023: Turns 5 between Sept 2 and Apr 2
TK in 2024: Turns 5 between Sept 2 and Jun 2
TK in 2025: Turns 5 between Sept 2 and Sept 1
But what just happened?
In a banner splashed across the Choices/Unified Enrollment application, which hundreds of thousands of parents saw as they entered the fall lotteries for next year, LAUSD just announced that instead of the gradual TK expansion, beginning next fall, ALL 4 year olds will be eligible to attend a TK program. 👇👇👇
From the LAUSD ECED website: ” Beginning in 2023-2024, all District schools that offer kindergarten will have UTK programs.”
Think Oprah: “You get a TK, You get a TK, and YOU get a TK!”
Did it have something to do with the fact that 50K enrolled LAUSD students did not attend the first day of school this fall? (cough, cough.) But I digress.
Now, let’s dig into this more specifically.
WHERE do we find these newly expanded TK programs?
-All LAUSD Zoned Neighborhood Schools
-A few LAUSD Dual Language Programs
-LAUSD Affiliated Charter Schools
-Some Independent Charter Schools, but not all
Who does NOT offer TK?
-SAS (Schools For Advanced Studies) programs
-Most DLE (Dual Language Education) programs
Who is on the Gradual TK Expansion Plan?
-Most Indie Charters (can make their own site-based decisions, so ask on the tour)
-Most Smaller Surrounding School Districts (will expand gradually by 2025)
Ok then. I hope that makes it more clear. Just in case you need a visual, have a look at my birthday chart.
Some final thoughts:
The 2023-24 school year will be the first year to test out this massive jump in age.
This mainly impacts LAUSD neighborhood schools and LAUSD Affiliated Charter schools.
Some questions to keep in mind:
What is the quality of the program? How safe is it? How do they handle conflict-resolution at this young age? Will your child be benched for not staying on task? What ratio of supervision is available during lunch and recess? What kind of training and/or experience do these teachers have in early childhood development? What behavioral methodology, or classroom management style do they use? How will your child acclimate or fit in? How do they handle separation anxiety?
Walk through any large preschool and look at the difference in age clusters, observing the development and maturity levels even among a 4-month age span. Now imagine extending that range by 12 months in one classroom. Hmmm. 4 year olds. On a big district campus. How do you feel about that?
If this brings up more questions for you, or you wish to dissect this as it pertains to your child and your family’s values, in your neck of the woods, reach out to me and I’ll be more than happy to assist you. Wishing you and your family all the very best.