BUSD High Fives Transitional Kindergarten (Berkeley, CA)
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BUSD High Fives Transitional Kindergarten (Berkeley, CA)
My son has a September birthday and will be right on the
cusp for the transitional kindergarten ''High Fives'' program,
or ''TK'', next year. His birthday will be three days before
the deadline, but his preschool teachers are telling me that
he may do better in TK. I am not even sure if I will have
the choice to send him to TK since he's old enough to attend
regular K. I've been trying to reach the BUSD admissions
office for awhile, but they are hard to get.
I really want to know more about how BUSD runs TK, who is
eligible, and how it compares to regular K. For instance,
I've heard that TK is a shorter day than regular K, and that
TK-ers may not be eligible for the BUSD aftercare (which
would be logistically really a pain for us). I'm just
wondering, since I can't get ahold of the district, can
anyone fill me on on what the experience was like for your
kid in TK? And are these rumors true?
Thanks for any help!
-- mom of two
The rumors are not true. Same day as K as yes you can use the aftercare. The school
really treats it like another K class. that said it is nothing like K in terms of
Mostly play based with some learning in there too - they learn letters and numbers. Do
circle time etc.
Our son loved it. That said i don't know if you are eligible - the rulesay be changing
as the dates change. I highly recommend the program.
My son was in the first high-5 class (2010-11)with Tom Fairchild. Kids have to meet the
birthday requirement, no exceptions and have a compelling, documented reason to need
this class. There are usually more boys than girls, so it can be easier for a girl to
get in. My son's experience was amazing - Tom is a hard act to follow. He incorporates
lots of play, movement, multi-sensory learning and my kid really got to master his
environment. Tom is great to work with parent-wise, he's very busy - but warm,
intuitive, communicative and really saw, and responded to my boy's needs. K was much
easier with High-5, we still struggle, but my son, thanks to Tom, really became a fully,
enthusiastic, successful learner, leader and proud class member. the class is not for
every kid - there are kids with difficult behaviors at times, and it Tom's high energy
and multitasking abilities can seem somewhat overwhelming to some kids - but my son
loved all the well-directed, meaningful activity, - I can see why he was the K teacher
that everyone wanted. Regular afterschool care is available and the day was the same
length as regular kindergarten. You can apply for regular K and high-5 usually on the
same application, in fact you should have to apply for both, since high-five is a small
program. It's definitely not a program for kids who are perhaps a bit ''young'' for K,
but for kids who really, truly need it. Also check the birthday deadlines bcs I think
the dates are changing for K this coming school year, and in that case your kid may not
High 5 parent
I've been looking for information about the transitional kindergarten
program for children born from September through December run by Berkeley
Unified at Washington Elementary School. Is this the first year of the
program? Was there a class last year? Does anyone have any experience with
their child having gone to Washington for the High Fives program and then
now transitioning to kindergarten at a different Berkeley elementary school?
Or any current parents who can comment on the program and staff?
Thanks for any information you can provide!
Checking out options
My child wasn't in the high fives program at Washington, but he's in second
grade there now and they've had the high five program for the younger
kindergartners since we started there in 2009, so I think it's been there
for years now. The official statewide transitional kindergarten program--I
believe--doesn't start until next year (Fall 2012) when the cut off date for
entry to kindergarten changes to Nov 1. I can comment that in general, we've
been really happy at Washington. Not every teacher is perfect, but most are
great and the principal is fabulous. My daughter has a fall birthday and
will probably be in the high fives program in a couple of years, and I won't
hesitate to enroll her at Washington because they've been doing this for so
long. I'm sorry my post is vague, but I wanted you to at least know that
they've been doing this for at least several years and the school in general
This is the second year of the High 5 program at Washington. Being brand
new, it got off to a bit of a bumpy start at the beginning of last year,
also because the district didn't thoroughly think through all the variables
they had put together. They have made some adjustments that should be much
better this year. The teacher, Tom Fairchild, couldn't be more experienced.
He brought in support and ultimately designed a model program. My
understanding is the kids really progressed and were beyond K-ready by the
end. And once the program got into the groove, they had a fun year to boot.
My daughter had him for kindergarten, so I can't speak on the High 5 class
directly, but he's one of the strongest, most experienced, and dedicated
teachers in the district. And very approachable. I'd go talk to him. Good
The BUSD high 5s program is in its second year. My child just started the
program and so far it seems great. The teacher is wonderful and highly
respected. The goal I believe is to take the curriculum that the normal K
class would cover through Nov and take all year to cover it so there is a
lot more time for play. That said they have already started learning letters
but are clearly getting lots of play time. This year has a super-engaged set
of parents and a great bunch of kids. Feel free to reach out to the school
for more information, the teacher is very welcoming of visitors who want to
check out the program.
It is definitely a down side of the program that most kids will move on to
new schools next year but for me the benefits of doing it outweighed the
happy high 5's parent.
We just joined the High 5's Program after being wait-listed so our
experience is limited but very positive thus far. I understand that the
pilot program started last year. I don't know anyone from that class so I
cannot comment on how that experience was. I can tell you that I am
impressed by what we are seeing so far in this class. The lead teacher, Tom
Fairchild, is very organized, very approachable and sensitive to the kids
varied needs. Ms. Roar, the teacher assistant, is there the majority of the
days so the teacher student ratio is nice (13 kids at the moment). She also
adds a nice balance to the class. We came from a traditional play-based
pre-school and we are welcoming the more structured setting here. It's nice
to have a teacher who has so many years of experience combined with teacher
certification that is required in BUSD. I must say that we are seeing
amazing developments in our son in just the few days that he's been in the
program. He is doing character identification, excited about sounding out
letters, singing songs and is more interested in art projects than he's ever
been before. Our son looks forward to going to school each day. Washington
is not in our particular BUSD zone and we have an older child at Thousand
Oaks so our plan and hope is to have our ''High 5'er'' join his brother next
year at T.O. It is early in the year but we are very happy with what we are
experiencing now. I am thrilled that BUSD started this program.
Happy High 5 Parent
Re: Bridge K/Transitional K Programs?
Contact Berkeley Unified School District and ask about their new (in its
second year) Pre-k Bridge program called ''High Fives'' offered at
Washington Elementary school. Birthdays between Sept and Dec are invited
to go to this transitional program with the same hours as Kindergarten,
free of charge. Your other alternatives are private pre-schools.
this page was last updated: Dec 13, 2012
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