Brentwood Union School District will implement a transitional kindergarten program next academic year.
Like most California school districts, Brentwood is planning the program for next year while waiting for a portion of $230 to $250 million in potential government funding statewide. The state law passed in 2010 allows for the additional year of kindergarten for those who won't be 5 years old by Sept. 5, and school districts are mandated to provide the program regardless of state funding, according to Brentwood Director of Student Services Jan Steed.
The specialized kindergarten program will also be offered in Oakley, Pittsburg, Antioch, Knightsen and Byron.
"It is in the best interests of children and we are looking long term at how to better support children and what we have found is that this gives them a jump start," Steed said. "We are seeing that students really benefit from skill development at this age level."
Steed pointed out that transitional kindergarten is different from preschool in its curriculum. She described it as developmentally and age-appropriate curriculum, including a focus on concepts such as letters and numbers.
"It is kindergarten material at the developmental level for this age range," she said.
While the age requirement for kindergarten used to be that a child was 5 on or before Dec. 2, transitional kindergarten will welcome children who will be 5 on or before Nov. 1. Each year that the program is offered, the date will be pushed back one month, with it being Oct. 1 in the second year and Sept. 1 in the third year.
"I think that there will be a lot of enthusiasm about it," said Brentwood school board member Lori Strauss. "It will benefit those kids on the younger side." At least 40 parents have already signed their children up for transitional kindergarten in Brentwood next year, Steed noted. The district already has teachers in place for the program, which will be offered at Loma Vista and Brentwood elementary schools.
Parents will register their children at their home school site and students will be placed in the school closest to them, Steed said. Over time, the district will open more transitional kindergarten classrooms.
"We are really excited about it and eager to provide these services," Steed said. "I think that parents are really aware of their educational rights for their children."
For more information on the program, call the Brentwood district at 925-513-6300 and select option No. 6 for the transitional kindergarten hotline.