Transitional Kindergarten

Cougar Elementary:

Transitional Kindergarten

At Clariden, we believe in empowering our students to use their voice. It takes the right atmosphere with the right educators to help students love to learn and to feel empowered throughout their academic career. Our award-winning, project-based learning environment promotes creativity and academic excellence. Students engage in a variety of projects throughout the school year that meet and exceed state standards aligning with TEKS. Projects are supported through content time (Math, Science, English, History, etc.) promoting an application of learning. They are tied to real life issues which allows students to understand the significance of what they are learning. Projects are supported through instruction from mentors, experts, teacher knowledge, and field study.

Why Transitional Kindergarten?

Transitional Kindergarten is for students who are not eligible for kindergarten based on chronological and/or developmental age, but exhibit readiness for higher levels of curriculum than those offered in the Pre-K classroom.

Some students who are eligible for kindergarten may benefit from additional time for their developmental age to more closely match their chronological age. In these cases, the “gift of time” is taken into consideration.

Age: Developmental & Chronological

It is crucial that we take development into account.

According to the Gessell Institute, “Developmental Age is an identification in years and half-years that best describes a child’s behavior and performance on a developmental scale compared to most children. Developmental Age may be equal to, older or younger, than the child’s actual chronological age.“

Research shows that the optimal developmental age for kindergarten entrance is 5 1/2 years old. This is based on the academic rigor and social/emotional demands that are required of students not just in kindergarten, but beyond.

Educators have found that in 3rd, 6th, and 9th grade, younger students with no prior academic struggle may begin to exhibit conceptual difficulty with curriculum. This can be directly linked to development. Due to age and maturation, the brain may not have entered the necessary stage of abstraction in order to conceptualize this higher level of curriculum. This is a crucial data point to consider when evaluating if a student is ready to begin kindergarten.

Keeping Your Child Challenged and Engaged

Intelligence is only a small part of what influences success in school. Students must be socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively ready to meet the demands of the curriculum.

Kindergarten readiness is not just about having a strong foundation of mathematical and pre-reading skills. At Clariden, we take a whole child approach. Students must demonstrate levels of the following that meet the high standards of kindergarten curriculum.

  • Emotional Regulation
  • Social Skills
  • Inter- and Intra-personal Communication
  • Gross & Fine Motor Skills
  • Developmental Age
  • Chronological Age

The Long-Term Advantages

Researchers found that the majority of transitional kindergarten students had higher literacy skills and more advanced math skills, than those who did not go to transitional kindergarten. It has also been found that transitional kindergarten students exhibit greater executive functioning throughout their academic careers (American Institute for Research, 2015).


Project-Based Learning

Projects bring all our learning together around a common question with a real-world application. Project-based learning also simulates the way problems are solved in the workforce: through team effort, exploration, testing, and conclusions. Elementary students engage in 6-7 projects per school year. Projects combine research, composition, public speaking and presentation skills. Each project comes with what we call the “Project 411.” This document outlines the goals, methods, lessons, timeline and assessments associated with the project including the following:

The students eagerly anticipate the “big reveal” of each Presentation of Learning (POL). The excitement builds as one grade looks forward to advancing to the next grade level to get to do “that project.” Our projects are so hands-on and engaging that some have even become traditions like the “Mars Rover”, “To the Moon”, “Dinosaur Dig”, and, of course, the “Build a Rollercoaster” for the Happiest Place on Earth project. Whenever possible, parents and students from other grades attend the final presentations and share in the learning and cheering for their fellow Cougars.
More on PBL

  • Driving Question — What Are We Looking to Solve?
  • Learning Outcomes
  • Concepts Introduced
  • Technology Introduced
  • Vocabulary
  • Field Study
  • Work Product / Assessment

Program Highlights

  • Learning self-esteem, self-confidence, self-regulation, responsibility, and social skills through Cougar PRIDE Matrix
  • Addresses all curriculum (English language arts and reading, math, social studies, science, exposure based Spanish, PE, art and music)
  • Standards based curriculum
  • Understanding and application of basic mathematical concepts
  • Understanding and recognition of letters, sounds and sight words
  • Development of gross and fine motor skills to improve hand-eye coordination
  • Language development
  • Emergent reading and writing

Project Examples

Just Plane Awesome

Students will explore the history of flight while learning about key figures in the field like Amelia Earhart and the Wright Brothers. Students will investigate basic scientific, geographical, and historical concepts.

Dr. Seuss

Through the study of the famous author, Dr. Seuss and his work, students will learn about rhyming, poetry story elements, and illustrating.

We’re Hooked

Students will explore the underwater world of fish. Students will investigate the differences between fresh and salt water, learn about habitats, conservation, and apply mathematical concepts.

Catching Stars

Have you ever looked at the night sky and wondered, “What else is out there?” Students will investigate our natural world while learning about the Sun, Earth, the moon, and the planets in our solar system.

Traditional Learning

Elementary students have daily “Content Time,” as we call it. This time is different than their project time. Content time gives the child focused time on single subjects like Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science. All of our curriculum in these areas meets and exceeds State standards, known as TEKS. Students delve into STEAM works to develop their Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math skills. They learn about civilizations and the customs, laws, and arts that define a society’s contribution to humanity. They study the detailed parts of our language that enable us to communicate effectively through spoken and written words. The main difference in our approach is that our small class sizes enable us to go beyond the standard worksheet. Some lessons are given in group format, while others are given one-on-one with a student. The goal is to meet the child where they are and keep them constantly challenged. In our school, if a student quickly gains mastery of a lesson, they are encouraged to keep going to the next level — there’s no one size fits all approach. When a student needs to stay with a lesson a little longer, we keep them fueled with a variety of ways of looking at the information: from visual, to hands-on, to reviewing face-to-face — because we know children have different learning styles. You’ll find our elementary students have very little homework. That’s because the students have the time, resources and individualized attention to get their work done during the school day.

English Language Arts/Reading

Reading: Through developmentally appropriate texts and practice, students will build comprehension skills, phonics and print awareness to become emergent readers.

Writing: In complement to their reading skills, students will develop emergent writing skills such as written conventions, grammar, and simple spelling.

Speaking and Listening: Students will practice speaking clearly and building their vocabulary and sentence complexity while also strengthening their listening skills.


Students will solidify their number and pattern knowledge through addition, subtraction, and problem solving. Students will continue to build understanding of 2D/3D shapes, measurement concepts, and money.


Students will observe the physical world around them through inquiry and experimentation. They will develop and enrich their abilities to understand scientific concepts and processes. Students expand their vocabulary through their experiences investigating properties of common objects, earth materials, and organisms.

Social Studies

Students will deepen their exploration of citizenship through their understanding of self, home, and family. They will explore American beliefs and traditions to establish their knowledge of national identity. In addition, students will examine holidays, customs, and historically significant figures from around the world. Location and physical characteristics of place are ex- plored in geography.

Healthy bodies
Before and After School


We do not teach to the test. The Clariden School is a private school and does not receive State funding. Therefore, our school is not required to take the State standardized tests and we do not build our days and weeks around testing. Instead, we leverage a number of other national assessment tools. We work to keep a relaxed atmosphere around standardized testing so the students learn healthy approaches to assessment. As educators, we understand that children mature through a sequence of predictable stages and that the timing of growth in each developmental domain is unique to each individual child. We also understand that children have both a developmental age (the age the child is functioning at from a maturation perspective) and a chronological age (the age of the child based on their birthday) and that these ages can differ. At The Clariden School, we do not use one assessment tool to determine admissions. We are interested in knowing as much as we can about each student. It is our goal to create learning experiences and environments that promote the overall development of each student. Gesell Assessment Information: The Gesell Developmental Observational Revised (GDO-R) assessment tool determines a child’s developmental age, giving us key information about a student. This information helps us to better understand and provide for students.