“Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten?” Transitional Kindergarten May Be the Answer


Transitional kindergarten student

The pre-kindergarten and kindergarten years can be a time of uncertainty for parents who often wonder what is best for their child academically and socially, especially for children who miss the September 1st cut-off date for kindergarten. Many parents ask, “Do I keep my child in preschool for one more year?” “If I test them into kindergarten will they truly be ready?” “Is my child ready for kindergarten even though he is of age?”

With so many questions about the journey from preschool to kindergarten, Columbia Academy’s Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program has become the solution many parents are looking for.

Catherine Paek’s son was of age when it came time for him to start kindergarten at age five. But as her older son (who missed the September 1 cut-off date) went through the transitional kindergarten program, the family chose to hold their youngest son back and enroll him in Columbia Academy’s transitional kindergarten program. “My son was actually able to start kindergarten on time, but because our other son had also gone through the TK program we were familiar with it and loved it back then. We chose to hold our younger son back and give him the extra year to become not only academically prepared but socially and emotionally prepared for kindergarten. Transitional kindergarten delivered in all of these areas!”

What is Transitional Kindergarten?

Columbia Academy’s Head of School, Tiffany Conroy, explained, “Transitional kindergarten is a bridge between preschool and kindergarten. It is designed for students who do not meet the cutoff for kindergarten, but who turn five years old on or before December 31st.”

The transitional kindergarten program at Columbia Academy was specifically created with the needs of the four and five-year-old development top of mind.

“We look at this time as a preparatory year for kindergarten. We have developed a specialized and intentional curriculum that incorporates play and academics so that children are learning at a pace that meets them where they are developmentally,” Tiffany said.

Learning to Be “Big Kids”

The first part of the school year focuses on helping the children transition into the elementary school setting. At this stage, children begin their days engaged in play while learning to move about from one class to another. They become a part of the school community, participating in school-wide projects and field trips as well as specials such as Spanish, art, music, physical education, library, and enrichment media.

By the second half of the year, the transitional kindergartners have a strong foundation and confidence that helps them continue to grow with the curriculum. “At this point, they’re ready to begin preparing for kindergarten learning such as working with their letters and sounds,” said Amber Rodman, Registrar at Columbia Academy, whose own daughter thrived in the transitional kindergarten program. “Some of our students come out of the TK program reading, which is pretty amazing.”

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Benefits of Transitional Kindergarten

The benefits of the transitional kindergarten program are many:

  • Academic preparedness and establishing readiness for kindergarten
  • Establishing an early love of learning
  • Developing a strong social-emotional foundation
  • Smaller class sizes and experienced, degreed teachers
  • Building executive functioning skills
  • Creating a school-home relationship that encourages children and parents to engage in the love of learning together beyond school


Catalina Stuparu’s daughter Emily joined Columbia Academy’s transitional kindergarten program mid-year after attending a home daycare provider and was quickly enveloped in its warmth to help her grow and adjust.

“It was hard for her at first since she wasn’t familiar with an academic environment. But, the teachers and the kids embraced and helped her in a way that she adjusted quickly,” Ms. Stuparu said. “She loved going to school every day and overall it was exactly what she needed before going to kindergarten. We are very pleased with the way the Columbia Academy crew handled her late arrival to the program, how they communicated her needs and supported her to feel welcomed.”

Academically and Emotionally Prepared

“The feedback we receive from parents after their children transition out of our program is that they are more than ready to move on to the next level, have strong foundational skills, and are doing exceptionally well in kindergarten,” said Tiffany.

“My son absolutely loved the transitional kindergarten program,” said Ms. Paek. “Because he was part of a much larger school with “lots of big kids,” he felt like he was a “big kid” too! This helped boost his confidence and made him believe that he was capable of doing more. His reading and writing skyrocketed during the school year. Transitional kindergarten prepared my child for kindergarten and beyond.”

Amber agreed. “My daughter wasn’t in a preschool program before starting transitional kindergarten at Columbia Academy, but she hit the ground running,” she explained. “She developed a love for learning, started reading, and was soaking it all in. It was the most wonderful thing we could have done for her to set her up for success going into kindergarten.”


To learn more about the transitional kindergarten program at Columbia Academy and setting your child up for success, call 410-834-4140 to schedule a personal tour. Or, visit Columbiaacademy.com to discover why Columbia Academy is right for your family.

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