Transitional kindergarten right fit for some kids

The students in Marietta City Schools’ first transitional kindergarten class are just this week starting their time in a more traditional kindergarten class. And according to accounts from educators and parents, those students are right where they need to be.

Last August, the first transitional kindergarten class began at Harmar Elementary, aimed at helping those at kindergarten age who might not be quite ready socially, emotionally or academically. The students don’t necessarily have special needs, but they may need more time to figure out how to learn in a classroom, at an age when just a few months can mean a big difference in growth and maturity. The program gives them an extra year of kindergarten, the first at Harmar and the second at their home schools.

Participants in the inaugural class have touted the benefits of the concept. It gives these students a greater foundation moving forward and awards them a better chance at academic success. If they’re pushed into kindergarten and then into higher grades without truly being ready, that will put them at a disadvantage throughout their time in school. They may struggle with reading and other skills, and develop a negative attitude toward learning born of frustration and discouragement.

Kindergarten is the right time for this sort of delay, and there should be no stigma to this. It’s about each individual student being in the right place to succeed.

Now that Marietta has seemingly had some success with this program, we’d like to see our other local districts consider if it may work for their students. Following Marietta’s model, there’s not a high cost–one teacher is conducting the class with an aide at a single school.

Let’s step away from the concept of “This is where a child has to be” at a particular age and look at where they actually are, and where they can go, as Marietta is doing.