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The Differences Between Preschool, Pre-Kindergarten, Transitional Kindergarten

Difference Between Kindergarten and PreschoolWe all want the best for our children, especially when it comes to their education. If you have a little one who is getting ready to start their schooling journey, then you want to make sure that they get the best overall experience possible. Since going from no school to kindergarten could be a shock to your child, it is essential to enable them to become more accustomed to the school system and be prepared for what is to come. The best way you can achieve that is by enrolling them in early childhood education. Though it may sound easy on paper, there are a few different options you can choose. Aside from the various school features and locations, something you should take into consideration is how the school is structured. Does it have a preschool or pre-kindergarten curriculum, or does it have a transitional kindergarten?

If you are doing this for the first time, it can be a bit overwhelming to really understand and nail down what you should do when it comes to enrollment. To shed some light here is an easy breakdown of each system so you can determine which would be the optimal one for your child.

Preschool
Preschool is the very first step in your child’s educational journey. Though this is incredibly important, it is not mandatory to enroll your child. It is also something that is very rarely offered by public school systems. You will generally be able to find a program in private owned locations or other places such as community or religion centers.

When your child is at least age three and fully potty trained, then they can start attending preschool. As an official preschooler, they will be able to work on perfecting their vocabulary and language skills as well as an abundance of other elements, such as learning to collaborate with others and gain confidence. They will be able to learn and develop through a playful environment and socialize with their peers who are around the same age. Though play is the majority of their day, it does work wonders in sharpening their cognitive abilities and emotionally preparing them for the classroom setting that they will be heading into.

Pre-Kindergarten
When you think of pre-kindergarten, think of it being filled with older preschoolers who are getting ready for kindergarten the following year. Though it is still considered preschool, the structure is a bit different, less play and more kindergarten classroom focused. Just like preschool, enrollment is not mandatory, and you may find it hard to land on a public school that offered a pre-kindergarten curriculum.

Pre-kindergarten is a stage that is integral for children to gain rich experiences. When it comes to enrolling your child, you can expect them to be entirely ingrained in a curriculum that is specifically focused on preparing them for actual kindergarten. These classrooms work with children in a classroom setting that is nearly identical to that of kindergarten and is done so to prepare them for the next educational stage adequately. This enrollment would build your child’s skills and give them guidance on how to complete more challenging projects, both independently and in teamwork settings. The outcome from this will provide your child with abstract thinking tools, enhance their problem-solving skills, and give them the confidence that they can handle kindergarten next year.

Transitional Kindergarten
What sets transitional kindergarten apart from preschool and pre-kindergarten is the fact that this program is a part of the public school system, meaning you will be able to have this feature without having to look elsewhere. However, just like the other options, you are not required to have your child attend if you choose not to or if you feel like they are not ready yet.

Often referred to as TK, Transitional Kindergarten is derived from the California law called the Kindergarten Readiness Act. It is a schooling grade that allows a bridge between both preschool and kindergarten. The system gives children aged four, who turn five between September 2nd and December 2nd, the ability to work on developing their fundamental skills to be fully prepared for school when they reach the appropriate age. Since transitional kindergarten comes after preschool, those children who are enrolled can begin regular kindergarten classes the following year when they hit the age requirements.

A key thing to note here is that transitional kindergarten is not a mandated curriculum. However, it will powerfully enhance your child’s skillsets if they are ready for school but missed the kindergarten age cut off. The curriculum is generally a modified version of what your child would have experienced in an actual kindergarten setting. Though many schools that offer this have some flexibility with their implementation of it, they still must follow the California standard guidelines when developing the foundation of their instructed guidelines.

Highlighted Differences

Though preschool, pre-kindergarten, and transitional kindergarten all sound like the same thing, they do have their differences that should be mentioned, with the biggest one being their age. The age when you can enroll your child in preschool is as young as three, pre-kindergarten is four, and transitional kindergarten is for children who are four, but will be turning five between
September 2nd and December 2nd.

Another key difference is the environment for each. Preschool is very playful, and children are able to use their imagination and learn through their play. Pre-Kindergarten is much more engaging and focused on similar areas of the standard kindergarten curriculum.
When it comes to transitional kindergarten, the TK environment is a mixture of preschool and pre-kindergarten. It strategically uses play along with classroom organization and learning centers to prepare children for their futures.

Highlighted Similarities

Now that you understand the differences more clearly now, if you are still unsure about what to do, you can be confident that no matter what, your child will benefit. This is because all three options are excellent in their own way but have the same mission. Classroom set up, age requirement and restrictions and style of the curriculum are all unique, but all have one thing in common, and that is their mission to help children become fully prepared and thrive in school all the way to graduation day and beyond.

Each of these programs are incredibly beneficial for young children who are about to embark into the school system. Even though they may address it in their own way with factors such as the cognitive development approaches based on each child’s abilities and age, they all aim to prepare children and give them the tools to reach their full potential. Whether it is preschool, pre-kindergarten, or transitional kindergarten, your child will undeniably gain immense skillsets and enhanced preparation for their schooling years to come.

Conclusion
As you can see, there is quite a bit that goes into kindergarten preparation and deciding what path would be best for your child. Since every child learns and develops at their own pace, you need to strongly consider the emotional, physical, and educational needs of your child to really determine what would be the best option for them. Regardless of what you decide, both preschool, pre-kindergarten, and transitional kindergarten curriculum are great options for children to learn and grow in, depending on their ages and particular academic needs. As long as the environment is safe and your child feels comfortable, then they will have excellent building blocks to reach their full potential and thrive.

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