What is TK?


Let me go ahead and start off by saying that I never dreamed that I would be walking out of my Kindergarten classroom to teach something other than what I have been doing. When I first moved in to that classroom, I thought that surely I would be there for 30+ years doing what I love…which is to teach. I never dreamed I would be taking down the alphabet just yet and my room would be looking like this.


Fast forward eight years later to all of the public school hoopla and a baby and it’s time for a change people. I am not writing this post to get in to the drama of the politics that surround the school system but I am just going to simply put that it was time for a change. So here is where my brilliant plan started to unfold 😛

Back in Vegas a few years ago, I met some friends that told me they taught “TK” and I was instantly intrigued. Of course, I whipped out my phone and googled “TK” (because googling is what I do best…). What I read made me want to have this program SO badly in TN. Us Kindergarten teachers know that there are those “young fives” that need the gift of just one more year before they set foot in our rooms. This scholastic article lays it out beautifully.

It’s like a pre-first for Kindergarten…even though we don’t have pre-first in TN anymore but that’s beside the point. They don’t need another year of pre-k but they just aren’t quite ready for K yet. Either they have an early birthday or their pre-k teachers have recommended that they hang back for one more year before the enter the regular Kindergarten classroom.

This idea of “TK” began in California so it hasn’t quite made it trek across to us just yet. I presented this idea and have been given the opportunity to start the program next year. I am beyond excited about it!


I envision it like what it was like when I went to Kindergarten…”old school Kindergarten”. As you all know, school is so different than it used to be. I’m not saying good or bad different…but just different. Some kids that just turned 5 aren’t ready for that different experience. I think Curriculum and rigor has become so much more intense that I think having this option is vital and I am praying that it becomes a state program soon. I am hoping through starting this program that it will bring more awareness for TK and possibly get it implemented in public schools. But for now, it’s going to just be an undertaking that I am so excited about!

I am excited because I still get to stay with the age group that I love (5 year olds are my people) but I get to write my own curriculum and actually teach. I’m not bound to a basal or a set curriculum. I can do arts and crafts with my kids without feeling guilty.

Honestly, it sounds like a dream…not to mention with one of my very best friends. I feel like I’ve taken a leap of faith and this is working out better than I could have ever imagined.

If you are a TK teacher or have any experience with TK…I would LOVE to hear about any of your thoughts and/or experiences!


  1. Laura Kelly says:

    So excited for you!!!

  2. Amy Rugaard says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I teach K in Metro Nashville and have dreamed of doing exactly what you are doing. Will you still blog about this new adventure? Are you going to be completely independent? Can visitors (me) come and see eventually?

    How exciting and I will be praying for this new venture!!

  3. Susie Bunting says:

    I have taught TK in CA for four years now and I love it. There is not a lot of guidance from the state so that has been tricky and a little bit of a blessing at the same time. I would love to share ideas with you but have not been brave enough to start a blog yet. Ate you going to I teach TK in Vegas? I am still on the fence. It is a big change but you are going to love it and be fabulous for the kids.

  4. Barbara Harmor says:

    So excited to see your post. My daughter and I want to start one of these… After teaching kindergarten for some 30 years I want to “retire” and do this “TK” thing! I have caught for years with my school that starting to early is such a disadvantage for children!
    Is your school paying you??
    What is the class size?
    I am thinking of using an old Treasures reading program…because it had gotten to simple for my kinders. I still have all the materials I made myself;-)
    My school was also using 1st grade Saxon so I thought I would go back to the old kindergarten level;-)
    I loved doing the “FLUFF” as my school called it and I felt that it built strong social skills….so I want to go back to that;-)
    Also blocks and kitchen and dollies and dinosaurs…. Well you get the idea!
    I so want to stay connected to you to see what you do and what your day is like … You were right on in saying you want to go back to old school kindergarten …the way I use to teach it “BACK IN THE DAY” heehee
    Fondly, Barbara Harmor

  5. You will LOVE it! I taught TK for my last 3 years here in CA. If you EVER need anything like ideas, just let me know. My blog reflects a lot of TK and K ideas. I’m so happy for you! I know you will love it as much as me!

  6. Stefanie says:

    Hi, Elizabeth
    I have taught K for 24 years in the private sector. Next year, I am moving to PreK (no TK inRhode Island) in a different private school where most of my children will be those that you describe – just missing the cut off or needing a little extra time. I’m excited for many of the same reasons. I hope you’ll be writing about your experiences.Good Luck!

  7. I applaud you! I was a Kinder in the 60’s and a Preschool then Kinder Teacher in the 90’s. Joseph (Joe) Jonas was my student in Dallas one year! 🙂 The contrast between what I did and what I was asked to teach is vast. I have had more than 800 children under my tutelage and can affirm that allowing a child to embrace at their own pace is so very healthy. Yes, we want to challenge them. But the above class mentioned used ABeka; a very challenging curriculum and I had not only talented Joe, but 9 international students- most who did NOT speak English let alone be ready to learn to read it! I still recall several children who were U.S. born who struggled. In later years I moved on to teach all grades. I am returning to Preschool (4K) this fall and happy to say that the philosophy is healthy and the children learn quickly because of the lack of pressure. Such a difference between inviting and insisting that a child learn! You NEVER KNOW the future of those entrusted to you. It is best to discover their “bend” and encourage them to grow! Hugs and prayers to/for you in your new venture!

  8. TK is wonderful & exhausting. You really need a full time assistant or low class size. Educate parents at the beginning. Phonemic awareness & beginning math skills are very oral, use manipulatives, thus not as much “product to take home that looks academic. This can scare parents. Just educate them–no need to run off a bunch of stuff. TK is go, go, go! There is no down time at the beginning of the year. You don’t have to prep as much “stuff” because it’s so hands-on. It’s a great grade as long as you don’t have to have a TK /K split. All of the studies have found (& it’s common sense)that the kids don’t get as much developmentally appropriate activities. Wear tennis shoes, be prepared, get help in the classroom, & smile! TK is a great program.