The 5-year-olds played with a farm, while others read their colorfully crayoned farm booklets aloud.

They certainly knew their horses from their cows, laughing when someone got them reversed. And the tykes bubbled with energy as recess grew near.

Welcome to the transitional kindergarten at Yorbita Elementary School. The pilot program is helping Rowland Unified gear up for the new classes expanding to every elementary school next year.

Under the new state plan, younger children will be allowed to enroll in the special kindergartens. In fact, the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 will gradually change the birth dates for entry from Dec. 1 to Sept. 1.

While the change of a few months may seem

Transitional kindergarteners explore pilot program at Yorbita Elementary School. (Staff photo by Watchara Phomicinda)

insignificant, it actually can mean a big difference in the students.

"When you consider they'll be in same class as students born in January, that's almost a year difference," explained teacher Jackie Bennett. "During those early years, that's a big difference in children who are growing and developing so fast."

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