Dear NLS Community,
As we hear the school districts promoting their TK and K programs, we wanted to share some important details and facts to help you understand your options so you know what each program offers ( NLS, TK, or K) instead of what is advertised and which sometimes doesn’t align with the real offerings.
Parents with children turning five years of age on or before September 1 could enter Kindergarten in the fall.
We encourage parents of children who qualify for Kindergarten (K) to secure a spot with their school of choice, as entry to many schools can be competitive. (see table below).
Public Transitional kindergarten (TK)
Students who turn five years old between Sept. 2, 2023, and April 2, 2024, may consider enrolling in TK.
NLS does NOT support Public Transitional Kindergarten (TK) as those programs are currently set up in a way that still needs much work to be age appropriate. Teachers often have a waiver of their education and run large group sizes, etc. (see table below).
Keep in mind that if your child starts a TK program at an elementary school:
The program will likely be mixed with a kindergarten and run with the same schedule and curriculum.
Enrollment on TK does not typically include the guarantee that they will remain at that school for Kindergarten. Children in a TK program may not be assigned to their neighborhood school and may experience two transitions, friends and campus, in 2 years.
NLS serves children ages 24 months to the day before 1st-grade entry. That means children could remain enrolled in NLS until the day before they enter 1st grade. However, our experience is that for our K program to be amazing, we would need at least 7 K children to be enrolled at NL, and that has not been our emphasis yet.
We have heard your requests for K, After school Spanish opportunities for graduates, etc, and we are looking into those options. We will keep you posted as those are developed and available.
Our current, high-quality program emphasis is two years old to 5 years old, and we will continue to work on expanding our services in the upcoming months and years.
As you navigate your transition to the K-8 system, We want to share several differences between the NLS high-quality Preschool program and the school district’s TK and K programs:
The biggest difference between the two programs comes from which agency oversees the regulations for the programs:
Public TK and K programs are under the Department of Public Education. Therefore, their regulations will mirror elementary school policies for children ages 6-12. They allow one adult to supervise 24+ children. (Yes, this is not a typo. The ratios go to TWENTY-Four 4-year-olds or 5-year-olds with one adult and sometimes with an Instructional aid, but the aid is not required.
The new TK regulations read 1 to 12 ratio, however there are various times and ways this is not requiered.
For more information you can go to California Department of Education Universal Prekindergarten FAQs https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/em/kinderfaq.asp
NLS is under regulations from the Department of Social Services, which sets the regulations for Early Learning programs and preschool programs and emphasizes traditional early childhood policies and priorities that focus on age-appropriate practices. These regulations allow one adult to serve 12 children. However, the NLS ratios are one adult for six children.
And although all programs have a goal of getting children ready for Kindergarten and above, the approach to this goal and how they function is very different.
Here are some of the most noticeable differences:
The Nature’s Lab School bilingual, experiential curriculum cultivates each student’s natural interests and intrinsic motivation while helping each child develop strong social-emotional skills to help them be happy and successful while achieving their personal interests through an educational, play-based, experiential approach.
Our small group sizes of 1 adult for six children, our special philosophy, and our wonderful staff members allow each of us to create solid and loving relationships with each child and to have individualized interactions that encourage each child's creativity, ability to think critically, gain a love for learning, acquire cognitive skills in literacy, letters and numbers concepts, size, sequence, patterns, colors, and other academic skills along with working on social and emotional competencies. We take the time to work through each child's curiosities and interests, difficult days, and individualized growth and needs.
While some of our children will end the year beginning to read and write, this is not our driving force. Instead, we seek to make children excited about learning. We honor what research has demonstrated to be ideal for early childhood (the first 5-7 years of life): to learn at their own pace, allow them to master competencies such as small motor skills, gross motor skills, social-emotional skills, and more before moving on to a highly structured environment.
Our outdoor experiential environment provides each child with an understanding of how things work and endless opportunities to solve problems and develop creative thinking.
What do Kindergarten teachers say about NL Graduates?
NL offers a wonderful Pre-K program for Children 2 to 5 years old, and our students are well-prepared for Kindergarten the following year.
Teachers in the public and private elementary schools around us have shared that NL graduates have been extremely successful each year in their transitions and well prepared for traditional schools as they have strong social-emotional skills, impulse control, problem-solving, and socialization skills, and academic and pre-academic skills that set them up for success (number, letters, shapes, critical thinking, etc.).
At NLS, we believe that low ratios and our expertise in Early Childhood Education provide children with an excellent educational experience and all the necessary skills to succeed when transitioning to a new Kindergarten program and beyond.
We encourage you to consider all your options to make the best-educated decision that fits your family’s needs. You know your child best, and every program fits every child/family differently.
If you have any questions about your decision, please don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Silvia Anderson to discuss your options.
Please let us know by March 1, 2023, about your plans for Summer and Fall 2023 enrollment to help us plan for NLS Fall 2023 enrollment, Tours for the 2023-24 school year began Feb 1 for new families hoping to join the NLS community.
Please let us know if you need additional time so we can understand what each of you is considering. We understand this is a big decision.
With much love and appreciation,