Santa Monica College (SMC) has announced that the SMC Early Childhood/Education (ECE) Department has been approved to offer specialized teacher-preparation courses that address the specific developmental needs of children in Transitional Kindergarten (TK).
SMC is the first community college in California to offer a Certificate of Achievement in Transitional Kindergarten. The 24-unit certificate program consists of courses that are ‘aligned’ with building an educator’s knowledge and skills in working with these youngsters. The first classes in the program will be offered online starting in Fall 2017, with the remaining courses launching in Spring 2018.
“This is the most affordable and accessible for-credit professional development pathway for TK currently available in California,” said SMC Early Childhood/Education instructor Gary Huff. “And, it’s a great starting point for non-credentialed students who are interested in exploring career options working with younger children in the school system.”
In California, children must be age 5 on or before September 1 to be eligible for Kindergarten. California’s Kindergarten Readiness Act, passed in 2010, created Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to help children who turn 5 between September 2 and December 2 prepare for kindergarten. These children may not have much experience interacting with other children and adults outside the family, and may have limited skills in listening, self-control, and adapting to the structured environment of a classroom.
With the recent introduction of TK into the public school system, credentialed teachers have been moved into TK classrooms with little or no preparation in working with the unique learning and development needs of these younger children. To address the issue, the California Department of Education/Early Education and Support Division/Quality Improvement Office established a contract with the Curriculum Alignment Project (CAP) to develop TK teacher preparation courses to be offered for credit through community colleges.
“We are excited to be a training and professional development provider for Transitional Kindergarten teachers,” said SMC Early Childhood/Education Department Chair Laura Manson. “By providing 24-units of intensive coursework in early childhood education to current and future TK teachers, we are not only building the quality of the workforce, but we are also ensuring positive outcomes for children in schools.”
“The SMC TK Certificate is the most recent example of the College’s ECE Department stepping up to meet the needs of the profession,” said Renatta Cooper, Educational Coordinator for the LA County Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education. “In creating this program, they are connecting Elementary Educators with the ECE system in a comprehensive and meaningful manner. By providing a Certificate, they also enable teachers who participate in their program to have proof of specialized instruction with the TK age group. This will help to secure these teachers’ position in TK classrooms regardless of their seniority. This is good news for developmental education and great news for children!”
The new Transitional Kindergarten Certificate is the latest addition to a wide array of ECE offerings at Santa Monica College, including an Early Intervention Assistant Associate Degree and Certificate of Achievement; an Associate in Science for Transfer Degree in ECE (which gives students the opportunity to get priority admission into many CSU campuses); and an Associate Degree and Certificate in ECE-Career. A Department Certificate in ECE (Core) is also available—this prepares students to obtain an Associate Teacher permit.
To find out more about these programs – including the new Transitional Kindergarten certification – please visit www.smc.edu/ece or call (310) 434-8109.
- Submitted by Grace Smith, SMC Public Information Officer