What does TK mean at Charlotte Latin?

What does TK mean at Charlotte Latin?

The first thing most people interested in TK notice about the Charlotte Latin application is that there is no place to apply to TK.

The reason for this is simple. Sort of. 

No one applies to TK because all applicants we consider for admission to Charlotte Latin are Kindergarten eligible. So, in essence, most of our TK students could go to Kindergarten, but for reasons that come in all shapes and sizes, choose a transition year instead. This is why our TK numbers are much smaller than our peer schools because it is that rare, but beautiful bird that we identify as a TK “persona.”

I often say the TK ticket is the golden ticket. This does not mean we love our TK students more than our Kindergarten students. It just means that our TK students span a much smaller birthday window and therefore, they are fewer in number and a bit of a rarity. Our TK students are what I call first and second-quarter 5-year-olds. In other words, they haven’t been 5 very long.

Often people start with the birthday questions:

“What is your birthday cut-off?”

“How old are your TK students?”

“What is the youngest Kindergarten student you enroll?”

The truth is, there are no hard and fast rules at Charlotte Latin about Kindergarten admission — except this one: A child turning 5 in September or October of the entering school year will not be considered for our Kindergarten. We follow North Carolina guidelines on that one. 

Every other decision regarding TK is based on the holistic review of the application. While most TK candidates fall in the birthday range of a young Kindergarten-eligible child (April to August), a few spill over into September and early October, which doesn’t meet the NC Kindergarten birthday deadline. But, the birthday does not determine the placement.

We look at all four components of the file: normed testing, the CLS Kindergarten readiness visit, teacher recommendations, and parent/counselor discussion about fit. Every single year we admit children with the same birthday (i.e: mid-July, same year) to both Kindergarten and Transitional Kindergarten. 

We don’t use TK to “redshirt,” manage enrollment, or stagger our year of entry. We consider Kindergarten the primary point of entry at Charlotte Latin School, even though we admit new-to-Charlotte Latin students every year to our TK and new-to-Charlotte Latin students every year in Kindergarten.

So, what does a CLS TK student look like?

They are ready for school. They are ready for a day as long as Kindergarten, a potential roundtrip bus ride, and a full afternoon at Hawks' Club. They have the stamina to “do school” and they have the necessary skills. They are chronologically young and therefore right where they should be; they do not have gaps in their development, they just are often 15 months younger than our oldest Kindergarten student so have had 15 months less time to develop gross motor, fine motor, and visual tracking skills. 

And when a TK student goes to Kindergarten the following year, they will be 6+, newly 6, or about to be 6. And, I often say, they will know how to show all the new students where the bathrooms are and where to hang up coats and totes. They, like their new Kindergarten friends, will be prepared for the next step in their early education.

Mary Yorke Oates
Director of Admissions