San Diego (KGTV) - San Diego Unified School District is opening its classrooms to four-year-olds. Next school year, Universal Transitional Kindergarten, or UTK, will be offered at almost every school.
“We’re just trying to make sure that we implement as much as possible for their learning,” says UTK teacher Raul Neri.
Neri teaches alongside Stacy Hemingway at Alcott Elementary. The pair says it’s their job to keep the kids engaged throughout the day.
“At this age, young children, they learn through doing hands-on activities,” says Hemingway. “So we try to do as many hands-on learning as possible. It’s what UTK is all about.”
Starting in the fall, all San Diego Unified Elementary and K-8 schools will have a UTK classroom. Some campuses will have two to three classes.
“We’ve seen the data and the observation,” says Stephanie Ceminsky, Director of Early Learning and Development Programs. “We said we need to expand this across the district now to all of our 4-year- olds, in all of our communities, so that we all have the same experience.”
Classes can have a max of up to 24 students, with two teachers assigned to each room. UTK will be held with a full-day schedule.
“We took the preschool learning foundations and the kindergarten standards and we developed an alignment,” says Ceminsky.
Educators say to get kids prepared for UTK it’s a good idea to start reading with them daily, have a routine, and try new skills at home.
Students must be four years old by September 1st to be eligible for UTK. Parents must pre-enroll their child by May 20th.
SDUSD says students can apply through their neighborhood school or the district’s website.
SDUSD has clarified that the program will be offered at 118 elementary schools. Four schools will not have the program, including, Language Academy, Virtual Academy, LMEC, and Mt. Everest.