I'm sorry that your granddaughter is unhappy at transitional kindergarten but not surprised. I'd be interested to know if her teacher has a background in early childhood education. If not, that may explain why your granddaughter isn't enjoying the experience, feels stressed out, and doesn't want to attend class.
Unfortunately, some school districts only hire those from within their own ranks to teach transitional kindergarten. They're equipped with K-5 teaching credentials but not degrees or units in early childhood education. Sadly, they don't appreciate how critical it is to follow developmentally appropriate practices. As a result, some kids feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and turned off to learning rather than energized by it.
Moreover, classrooms for transitional kindergartens are often too small and lack the necessary art materials, math manipulatives, and pretend play areas. Some of them have no designated outdoor space suitable for little ones with a sandbox, tricycles, easels, and such. It's no wonder little kids are unhappy there.
In addition to lacking qualified teachers, big, open areas for play, and age-appropriate materials, some transitional kindergartens have no teaching philosophy that guides their practices. Instead, they just have a singular goal: to prepare kids academically for kindergarten. Their teachers were hired to do that by emphasizing the alphabet, phonics, numbers, and patterns. They aim to get kids sitting quietly for circle time and stories.
This makes for a teacher-centered classroom, not a child-centered one. Little kids are wired to learn by doing and are motivated by their innate curiosity. To do anything to stifle that is truly tragic.
Unfortunately, parents like your daughter are being told that their children must attend transitional kindergarten in order to be prepared for kindergarten. If you tried to convince your daughter that preschoolers need to play, she'd probably just think you're old-fashioned and don't know what's expected of kids today. It takes a strong, confident, and well-informed parent to ignore the “earlier is better” chatter and do what's right for their kid.
You may want to read my article entitled, “Montessori, Waldorf & Co-op: Why a Preschool's Philosophy Matters.” https://wehavekids.com/education/Montessori-Waldor...