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What is TK & Kindergarten?

Transitional kindergarten (TK) and kindergarten (K) may be your child’s first-ever experience in a school setting – or it may be a time of transition, moving up from preschool to elementary school. Regardless, it’s an exciting and special milestone. Find out more about the difference between TK and K and what to expect for your child.

7 Students reading a book with two female teacher

California public schools (and some non-public schools) offer Transitional kindergarten (TK) and kindergarten as opportunities to help children develop school readiness skills. Although children aren’t required by law to attend TK and kindergarten (children 6 and up, however, are required to enroll in school), these programs give your child in the experience of being in a school environment and learn beyond what you do at home. TK is available for kids whose fifth birthdays are between September 2nd and December 2nd of the school year. For example, if your child turns 5 on October 5th, then he or she is eligible to enroll in a TK class at your local public school. Since TK students are younger in age, these programs are designed using age-appropriate curriculum for younger children.

Children who attend and complete TK then move on to kindergarten the following year. So, a child with a birthday within the TK range will have two years of kindergarten experience before going to first grade. School districts vary in how and where they offer TK classes, so be sure to ask your local district about what options are available in your area.

Kindergarten is available to children whose fifth birthdays are on or before September 1st of the school year. Kindergarten curriculum is designed to meet the needs and teach children who are in this age range. Because of this, the kindergarten curriculum is somewhat more challenging and academic than the TK curriculum. Kindergarten is typically offered at every local public elementary school. And after completing kindergarten, your child will go on to first grade.

Children who turn five after December 2nd of the school year will have to wait to enroll in kindergarten the following school year. It’s an ideal time for these children to have an extra year of preschool to prepare for kindergarten.

Check out our Public Schools page to find out more about how to find a public school that’s right for your child.

Click here to search for your local public school:

https://www.greatschools.org/school-district-boundaries-map/

https://www.cde.ca.gov/schooldirectory/

First 5 California
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