Transitional Kindergarten

We have a new transitional kindergarten website! For expert-recommended tips, resources and sample strategies for teachers and administrators - as well as great information for parents - visit TKCalifornia.


Tips & Tools for Teachers & Administrators

What is transitional kindergarten?


Offered across the state, transitional kindergarten (TK) is an exciting, new educational opportunity for children born in the fall. Transitional kindergarten offers children with birthdays between September and December a developmentally appropriate curriculum aligned with kindergarten standards, taught by credentialed teachers from K-12. TK was created by a new California law called the Kindergarten Readiness Act.

The Kindergarten Readiness Act, signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2010, changed the kindergarten entry date from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1 so that children enter kindergarten at age 5. The law phases in the new age requirement by moving the cutoff date one month a year for three years, beginning this fall for children born between Nov. 2 and Dec. 2. Some districts are opting to fully phase in TK in the first year.

The entry date change and the creation of TK address a longstanding need in California, as our children have historically started kindergarten at a younger age than kids in almost any other state – often without the maturity, social skills and early academic skills they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. At the same time, kindergarten today is far more academic than it once was; similar to what first grade used to be.

The youngest kids in a kindergarten class risk struggling academically, emotionally and/or socially. At their young age, some may have limited experience interacting with peers and teachers, while others may not yet know how to listen or follow a structured class schedule. TK ensures that children have these pivotal skills, which are foundations to successful learning, when they begin kindergarten.

What are the benefits of TK?


Transitional kindergarten bridges the path between preschool and kindergarten and gives students a head start that will yield huge payoffs in future academic success. TK provides the gift of time that will help students build a strong foundation for success in elementary school. One out of every four kindergarten students in California will benefit from transitional kindergarten. TK will serve 125,000 students each year.

TK is a win-win-win for children, families and schools.

  • Children are better prepared to succeed.
  • Families have an additional option to ensure their children enter kindergarten with the maturity, confidence and skills they need to excel.
  • Schools benefit because children will be better prepared to succeed academically and less likely to be placed in special education or held back in later grades.

Research shows that the return on early investments in education is substantial. According to Deborah Stipek, professor at the Stanford University School of Education, “the cost is paid back many times over in reduced grade retentions, special education services and in lower expenditures for incarceration. Returns also come in the form of the increased productivity that results from higher levels of academic achievement and high school completion rates.”

        Find innovative models and materials from the fall Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Summit - a forum for educators to share promising practices, strategies and resources for implementing transitional kindergarten in a high-quality and efficient way. Videos from the summit can be found here.

        Diana Chun, Communications and Digital Media Manager
        (510) 271-0075 x 303
        (925) 858-6853 (cell)
        Send an email to Diana

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        Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Summit | 11.08.2011

        The Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Summit was a resounding success! A packed house of almost 500 educators from nearly 100 school districts, who serve more than 2 million children across the state, joined the exciting conversation on how to effectively implement transitional kindergarten. With statewide implementation beginning in fall 2012, leaders and early adopters shared their promising practices with those who are planning their own programs. more

        Save the Date: South Bay Transitional Kindergarten Conference on April 15 | 04.15.2011

        Please join the South Bay Transitional Kindergarten Regional Conference on April 15, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. more

        Fresno and Sacramento host informational summits on transitional kindergarten | 03.03.2011

        The first of several regional conferences on transitional kindergarten, the Central California Regional Summit on Transitional Kindergarten convened educators, parents, administrators and other stakeholders to discuss transitional kindergarten on March 3. Sacramento held a similar conference on March 10. more

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