Should My Child Do Transitional Kindergarten?


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Q: My daughter just finished kindergarten. She received mostly S's and a few N's. The teacher wants her to be placed in the transitional first grade because she sometimes mixes up letter sounds, and upper and lowercase letters, as well as some numbers when writing them to 100.

To me, transitional first grade is a repeat of kindergarten because the next year she would go to first grade. I have purchased a summer reading program that the school was offering to help my daughter this summer with her letters. What else can I do to avoid her being placed in the transitional first-grade classroom?
-Against Transition Classes

A: Kindergarten teachers who have worked with children for an entire year can easily identify those who do not seem to be as ready for first grade. The purpose of transitional first-grade classrooms is to give children the additional preparation that they probably need. It serves to solidify kindergarten skills. Many of the students who are assigned to transitional classrooms are younger children with summer birthdays or those whose teachers considered them immature.

You are absolutely correct in saying that transitional first-grade classrooms are a form of retention. On the other hand, today's first-grade classrooms have become very rigorous academically. The few long-term studies done on children who went to a transitional first grade generally show comparable achievement later on when compared to children who were recommended and attended first grade. The results are less positive for those who were recommended for transitional first grade and instead went on to first grade.

Be sure to talk with the teacher about your desire for your child to go on to first grade rather than to the transitional first grade. Ask the teacher for specific suggestions about ways to strengthen your child's reading and math skills.

In any case, it would be a good idea to use the school reading program that you purchased. You can get more ideas on how to improve your child's reading skills at the International Reading Association website at www.readwritethink.org. Help her improve her number skills by having her write the numbers and play Bingo and other number games.

Before school starts again, ask the school to re-evaluate your child's skill level. You may find that she has gained the skills needed for the regular first-grade classroom.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com or visit www.dearteacher.com.

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