Legislature codifies ‘Transition to Kindergarten’

About a decade ago, Promise Kindergarten launched with a 10-week program for pre-kindergarten students at Bellingham Public Schools.

Washington’s first iteration of Transitional Kindergarten (TK) was intended to offer a jumpstart to kindergarten for children in families who otherwise could not access early childhood education, said Ferndale Superintendent Kristi Dominguez, who was one of the Bellingham teachers to launch the program.

Since then, the program has expanded, in some cases to full-year, all-day classes, and to more than 100 districts across the state. This year, the Legislature codified it into law as Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) with the passage of House Bill 1550.

These programs, half early learning and half kindergarten, are aimed at providing education to families who do not qualify for the federal Head Start program or the Washington Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), but who also cannot afford to pay for private children care.

The program allows students to learn how to be in a classroom and enables them more time to work on goals set in traditional kindergarten.

photo Teacher Jordan Fearer, center, makes the sounds of letters and encourages students to grab the matching letter. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

“It gives students a really