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Coast Episcopal’s transitional kindergarten program reaps rewards

From Coast Episcopal School

A year and a half after launching its Transitional Kindergarten program, educators at Coast Episcopal School are convinced of the initiative’s many benefits.

The independent school in Long Beach introduced the program in August 2021, having identified a need to provide a “bridge year” for students who would benefit from an extra year between preschool and kindergarten. According to TK teacher Melissa Flickinger, students who participated in last year’s class are leaders in this year’s kindergarten class, showing more self-confidence and understanding of what is expected in an elementary classroom. She credits the additional year with allowing adequate time for social and emotional growth, which enabled students to be on a social level equal to their age-level peers.

Leah Watters, whose son participated in last year’s TK program, echoes Flickinger’s observations.

“Our son’s transition into kindergarten was seamless on account of established friendships, an understanding of the rhythms of the school and having been enticed to love learning,” she says. “He began kindergarten reading-ready and delights in the new things he learns.”

Flickinger adds that, academically, her former students are exhibiting math and literacy skills ahead of, rather than behind, their kindergarten peers.

“They have an expanded vocabulary and exhibit more advanced critical thinking skills,” she says.

Allyson Winter, another CES parent, chose this year’s TK program for
her son. Flickinger customized his curriculum, and he is now thriving, she says — making her confident he will continue succeeding in kindergarten.

“Transitional kindergarten at Coast was the perfect fit for our son,” Winter says. “He has a summer birthday and was not quite developmentally ready for kindergarten but was ready to graduate from preschool. TK bridged the gap, allowing him to mature socially in a smaller class setting.”

CES Head of School Jake Winter notes that the only downside has been getting the message out that the transitional kindergarten program is not designed for students who have been identified as lacking in academic abilities.

“That’s just not so,” he explains. “These are students who, for a myriad of reasons, will benefit greatly from an extra year of developmental growth.”

All the school’s prospective new students are assessed to ensure that they are grade-level appropriate, according to Admissions Director Amy Egolf. However, prospective 5-year- olds are assessed by both T-K and kindergarten teachers.

“Then, along with input from their parents, the two educational professionals decide which of the two programs will be the most beneficial and are in the child’s best interest,” she says.

New student enrollment at Coast Episcopal School is scheduled to open on March 1. Families interested in additional information regarding the Transitional Kindergarten program are encouraged to complete an online inquiry and schedule a tour of the CES Campus. Learn more by calling (228) 452-9442 or visiting

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