Dewan: Early learning is a recipe for school readiness 
There are several early learning options available for families in Santa Clara County. Photo courtesy of Santa Clara County Office of Education.

    Families with young children have a variety of early learning program options in Santa Clara County. Enrollment for next school year is already underway.

    Families who are interested in enrolling their child in preschool, transitional kindergarten (TK) or kindergarten can do so each year starting as early as December in some of Santa Clara County’s school districts. Many school districts typically begin open enrollment sometime between December through March. Early conversations with enrollment staff will ensure families know of the necessary documents for enrollment to prepare for the upcoming school year.

    Early learning programs including TK and kindergarten are an important part of the development of young learners. Years of research demonstrate children’s early experiences impact long-term outcomes in life. Attending early learning programs allows a child to develop academic, emotional, physical and social skills that are necessary for successful transition into the K-12 system.

    Additionally, children who attend early learning regularly are more likely to be proficient readers by the end of third grade, are more likely to go to college and are more likely to have increased lifetime earnings. Given that 90% of a child’s brain development occurs by age five, participation in quality early learning becomes an important foundation for a child’s education.

    California has invested in more publicly funded options for early learners, especially young learners aged three, four and five. Families can learn about some of their options in Santa Clara  County by visiting The site is a resource to support families in their search for child care, preschool, TK and kindergarten. The Santa Clara County Office of Education consolidated enrollment information into this centralized enrollment hub to make it easier for families.

    Families with children ages birth through five can visit to connect with the county’s Childcare Resource and Referral Program, Head Start, California State Preschool program and for public school enrollment. This centralized enrollment hub also provides families with information about necessary documents for enrollment, community programs that support student and family health and programs that support students with disabilities and other needs.

    Families can also find information about the expansion of age eligibility for TK. Most four year olds are currently age eligible to attend TK through their local school district. A resource guide for parents was developed outlining steps to enroll a child in TK or kindergarten. Families who are interested in learning more about TK are invited to watch the following webinar available in English and Spanish.

    To register your child for TK or kindergarten, follow these steps:

    1. Contact your school district office (see: “Find Your School District” for help with finding your district).
    2. Take your child to the dentist and doctor for required health examinations and up-to-date immunizations.
    3. Register/enroll in kindergarten or TK early.
    4. Attend informational TK or kindergarten events offered by your school.


    San José Spotlight columnist Mary Ann Dewan is the superintendent of schools for Santa Clara County. She has more than 33 years of experience in the field of education. Her columns appear every third Monday of the month.

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