Jewish Academy launches Transitional Kindergarten


December 14, 2018

Pre-K students no longer need to "wait" until the end of the school year to transition to kindergarten in this new program

Jewish Academy of Orlando has launched a new academic program to serve the community. The school welcomes students to its new Transitional Kindergarten launching at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. Transitional Kindergarten is a school grade that serves as a bridge between preschool and kindergarten, providing students time to develop fundamental skills needed for success in school in an age and developmentally-appropriate, nurturing setting.

"The gift of time is truly one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. A Transitional Kindergarten would provide parents with a developmentally appropriate, research-based program in which to grant their children that gift. Every child develops at the rate at which they are meant to develop and our current educational structure doesn't always allow or support this process. Programs such as TK, are designed with the whole child in mind and not just with some arbitrary date which exists on a calendar. I feel fortunate to partner with JAO as they provide a much needed option for families and for our children as we prepare them for their best life,"  said Melissa Youngblood, Early Childhood director of the Richard S. Adler Early Childhood Learning Center.

Instead of repeating a grade, the TK program provides Pre-K graduates the opportunity to transition to the Jewish Academy of Orlando. The program will be housed, managed, and directed by Jewish Academy of Orlando with the cooperation, experience, and expertise of the JCC's ECLC leadership team. The classes will be small, with a 6:1 anticipated student to teacher ratio to provide students with the individualized attention they need during this transitional period.  

Students will be led by fully certified, passionate teachers, who specialize in young learners. They will be exposed to divergent learning spaces including the Innovation iLab. WJAO News, hands-on learning and purposeful playtime. The TK students will have many of the benefits of being a JAO student, including taking classes such as Hebrew, Judaic Studies, P.E., Art, and Music.

"The program is designed to create lifelong learners with strong emotional and social growth," stated Nikki Buyna, director of Academics. "The school's TK program is will be a purposeful opportunity to foster the student's curiosity, encourage a love of learning and support an environment of positive social-emotional and academic growth."

One of the school's core values is to focus on the whole child. As a part of that, the school fosters the academic, physical, social and emotional components of learning.

School counselor Danielle Glover added, "Social and emotional growth is key to a child's success, long term mental wellness and healthy sense of self. The TK program will provide an intentional learning space for children to develop the foundational skills necessary to be successful, happy, and confident in the academic years that follow.

"We are finding more and more that an extra year of maturational growth has long-term positive impacts on a child social, emotional and academic success."

"Families in our community have voiced a need a transitional year before their child enters Kindergarten. Our school's Transitional Kindergarten program will be an experience for children to develop all of the skills necessary to be successful in Kindergarten and the rest of the elementary school years," stated Alan Rusonik, Head of School. The TK program is designed around an age-appropriate curriculum that is differentiated for individual learners. Rusonik added, "We are happy to serve the community in this way and encourage and nourish our kids' love of learning.

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