Why TK is a Decision We Won't Regret

Posted by Luke Vandall P '35
How do you know if and when your child is prepared for kindergarten? What kind of initial learning environment will benefit your student the most?

The Vandall family processed and prayed over these questions before identifying Transitional Kindergarten as their son's best option. Read how their decision has worked out.
When a child turns five years old, they start kindergarten. Before exploring what Caldwell had to offer, my wife and I held this as a basic truth of education. That’s the way it had always been and that was the way it would be for our children.

In God's providence, our first meeting with the Caldwell staff provided another potential pathway, Transitional Kindergarten (TK). It would be disingenuous not to admit we initially hoped TK wouldn’t be our son's recommended starting place. Without saying it to one another, my wife and I made plans for our son based on our own expectations. Add in the need for a developmental assessment, and an additional set of questions and concerns arose. Had we done enough to get him ready? What would a TK recommendation mean for the rest of his time in school?
Once we learned TK was a possibility, we did what most parents would do. We researched. A lot. We had conversations with other parents who had gone through the TK program. We prayed. We went on a deep dive on the Internet (in hindsight, I probably wouldn’t recommend this one!). Throughout all of our research and in all of our conversations, something was always missing: someone whose child had completed TK and regretted it. We talked to parents who initially had concerns similar to ours, but none wished they made a different decision. In fact, the overwhelming feedback we received indicated other parents saw so much benefit to the program they hoped their other children would be recommended for it.

There are legitimate concerns about taking a “transitional” year. We want our son to be challenged. We want him to learn to work hard and we want him to step out of his comfort zone. For us, these concerns were balanced by a desire for him to love school. We want our son to experience joy in learning, not drudgery.

Decisions like these require wisdom. We know our son on a level only a parent could. We’ve seen him experience highs and lows. We’ve watched him persevere through challenging situations. We’ve seen him pick up things without needing an explanation. And despite our intimate knowledge of him, we are blessed to know there are many kind, well-equipped, and godly people who want to help us help our son thrive. We heard one unifying theme in every conversation with Caldwell staff members: these men and women truly wanted to see our son thrive, too. They created an environment that made it easy to trust them.

As my wife and I discussed our son's educational hopes and aspirations, we kept arriving at a simple, but foundational truth. We want our son to flourish at school. We realized much of the anxiety surrounding the decision to send him to TK or not had much more to do with us than with him. We wanted a challenging education that points our son to Christ. A few months in, our son is happy and engaged at school. He shares stories from the Bible curriculum with us. He offers to pray over our meals. He actually takes a nap after school (proof that it is a full workday)! And most importantly to us, he genuinely loves school. We agree with the parents we asked for counsel. We don't regret the decision one bit.