St. John School Transitional Kindergarten Curriculum

St. John’s TK program focuses on preparing our youngest students for Kindergarten, always in an age and developmentally appropriate way. While our TK curriculum is similar to our Kindergarten curriculum, in TK we focus on introducing practices and concepts. The following year, in Kindergarten, students will meet this material again and their focus will be on deeper understanding and mastery of Kindergarten material.

St. John’s Transitional Kindergarten curriculum follows California’s Common Core standards, shaped by Catholic teachings, doctrine, and tradition. This approach to TK curriculum prepares our TK students with a strong foundation for the curriculum to come in higher grades.

Social–Emotional Development

Social–emotional development constitutes a main focus of the TK year. Through the St. John TK program, our young students learn to identify emotions and practice self-control. Their ability to develop and sustain relationships with peers and adults grows. They learn how to work in groups to achieve desired goals. Social-emotional growth provides the dual benefit of preparing young learners to succeed in a structured classroom setting while also helping them learn the skills and tools they need to work and play together. At St. John, our TK program goals for social-emotional development include:

• establishing a positive sense of self and positive relationships with others (peers and adults)
• identifying their own emotions, learning to manage their impulses and emotions
• practice following rules and meeting classroom-based expectations
• learning to work both independently and to cooperate with a group
• improving their ability to focus their attention
• gaining practice inviting and sustaining friendly play
• working out conflicts with other students

English Language Arts

St. John TK students love to communicate! They have a growing ability to express ideas and reason using language. TK students are beginning to pay more attention to written language and how written symbols represent thoughts and ideas. They are beginning to recognize the concept of characters, setting, and sequence of events as they listen to stories. At St. John, our TK goals in English Language Arts emphasize early exposure to and opportunities to practice the building blocks of Language Arts, including:

• listening and speaking opportunities to practice using their expanding vocabulary and understanding of grammar
• increased understanding, variety, and specificity in how they use words; increased ability to use categories, and to use simple and complex words to describe the relationship between items and concepts.
• early exposure to phonetical concepts: the sounds of letters and letter combinations
• learning how to handle books, knowledge of print conventions, and understanding that print carries meaning
• recognizing their own names and common words in print, matching letter names to their printed forms, and beginning to recognize that letters have sounds
• comprehension of details and facts in familiar stories, practice discussing story information
• increased control in writing and drawing, writing letters or letter-like shapes to represent words or ideas


In Transitional Kindergarten our students begin to move from an instinctive understanding of math to the expanded math learned in school. Math skills such as number sense and measurement are emphasized, and the beginning of mathematical reasoning is introduced (evaluating, relating, developing strategies, drawing logical conclusions, explaining). At St. John, our TK program goals for mathematics include:

• ability to recite numbers to 20, recognize and name some numerals, count up to 10 items
• begin learning to compare groups, practice adding and subtracting by one to change the number, practice combining and dividing groups to create larger and smaller groups
• practice sorting and classifying objects
• working with patterns to recognize, duplicate, extend and create new patterns
• comparing the length, weight, or capacity of objects, ordering objects by size, and measuring length
• identifying, describing, and constructing a variety of shapes, combining shapes to create a picture design
• identifying the position of objects and people in space, early understanding of the concept of relative positions of objects.


TK students are naturally curious and make great scientists! Learning science in the TK classroom focuses on encouraging our young students to ask questions. We invite TK students to engage their curiosity, use their five senses to gather data, and use their growing language skills to describe objects and events in their environment. TK students begin to learn to use tools to measure, compare, and contrast, make and check predictions, and learn the initial steps to inference. St. John’s TK program prepares our young students for Kindergarten by introducing concepts such as:

• early understanding that objects can be described in terms of their composite materials and their physical properties (shape, color, texture, size, flexibility).
• increasing awareness that objects and materials can change form
• increasing ability to identify characteristics of animals and plants, early practice categorizing animals and plants
• increased knowledge of body parts and physical process in humans and animals
• comparing the characteristics of earth materials, such as sand and rocks
• identify changes in weather and the effects of weather on their own lives and on their environment (plants and animals)  

History, Social Science & Cultural Studies

St. John TK students explore History, Social Science, and Cultural Studies by learning about themselves, their families, and their communities. Discussions about language, family, and culture are commonly interwoven into the school day and curriculum. At St. John, our TK program goals for History, Social Science, and Cultural Studies include:

• encouraging children to discuss and share their cultural, ethnic, and racial identity, along with language, stories, and traditions
• activities that encourage an interest in each student’s family history
• early exposure to a variety of adult occupations and roles
• experience in group activities, including decision making and valuing views of others
• opportunities to exhibit responsible behavior, to pay attention to others’ feelings, and to negotiate and compromise
• opportunities to practice creating drawings, maps, and models and to use globes

Physical Education

TK students love to run, jump, wiggle, and play! Integrating this desire with physical health and social-emotional growth, St. John TK students enjoy professionally instructed PE twice a week. Our PE coach leads indoor and outdoor activities that introduce new group games and provides nutrition education. St. John’s PE program promotes the development of gross-motor skills, listening skills, practice following directions, and helps our TK students learn to work in collaboration. At St. John, our TK program goals for PE instruction includes activities that:

• increase balance and control while still and while moving
• encourage walking with balance and oppositional arm movement
• encourage running with a longer stride for a greater length of time
• practice jumping for height and distance
• practice gross-motor manipulative skills by using arms, hands, and feet (rolling, tossing, or bouncing a ball)
• increase children’s knowledge of body parts and processes
• allow children to use their own body and presence in space, learning to move within a large group without bumping into others or falling
• increased ability to recognize and use personal space, general space, and boundaries.

Visual and Performing Arts

TK students express unconscious, constant creativity. They love opportunities to move and make! St. John TK students explore creative expression with dance, music, and arts and crafts. Art instruction integrates many of the lessons above, as TK students learn self-expression through movement and artwork. At St. John, our TK program goals in the Arts include:

• increasing TK students’ ability to plan art and to show care and persistence in their creative work
• opportunities for children to choose their own art for display and explain their ideas and reasons for their artistic choices
• help students begin to create representative paintings or drawings that depict people, animals, and objects
• develop and improve coordination and fine-motor control when working with visual art tools like scissors, glue, crayons, and paintbrushes
• provide opportunities for students to use expanded vocabulary to describe basic elements in music such as high/low, fast/slow, loud/soft, and beat.
• help students expand and practice role-play skills using their imagination and instinctive creativity