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Enrolling in kindergarten: What you need to know

As you prepare for the first day of kindergarten, you'll want to be informed well in advance about requirements for kindergarten entrance and registration.

GreatSchools Blog

By GreatSchools Staff

Most school districts are required by law to offer a kindergarten program for interested parents.

Districts vary on when they begin taking sign-ups for kindergarten. Most begin pre-registration in early spring for the following fall. The number of hours your child will spend in school each day varies from district to district, although the state requires that students complete a minimum number of hours per year.

Here are some general guidelines on what is required for kindergarten enrollment. Be sure to check with your local school district for their specific requirements, too.

In most states your child must be at least 5 years old to be eligible for kindergarten.

Although most states are fairly strict in enforcing the deadline date (if your child is not 5 by the designated deadline, he must wait until the following year to start kindergarten), some school districts may allow parents to enroll their children if they turn 5 in the middle of the school year. Most districts choose not to make an exception for these students because of space constraints and possible complications around promotion to first grade. If you feel strongly that your child should start kindergarten and his birthday does not meet the state deadline, it's worth contacting the school district office to see if they will make an exception.

If your child meets these characteristics, she will likely be granted early admission:

  • The child's mental age should be between 14-16 months greater than his or her chronological age as determined by standardized tests.
  • The child's total IQ should be at least 130.
  • The child should possess social and emotional characteristics that will allow him to behave in the way expected of kindergarten students.
  • The school's psychologist recommends admission.

You have to fill out registration and emergency medical referral forms.

Check with your local district for their requirements.

You may be asked to provide the following:

  • Proof of your child's age and identity: either a birth certificate or another reliable document stating the child's identity and age (such as a passport, school ID card, school record, report card, military ID, hospital birth record, adoption record or baptismal certificate) If you need another copy of your child's birth certificate, see Vital Records Information.
  • Proof of residence, such as driver's license, voter/motor registration card, utility bill, rent statement, income tax return statement, proof of home ownership (including a mortgage statement) or any official document showing both your name and address.
  • Records of vaccination and immunization against specified diseases. Check with your school district to find out which immunizations are required.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

07/5/2012:
"Does anyone know what's the deadline to enroll your child in kindergarden?????? "
02/13/2012:
"Before I was an adult I was a kid. I don't remember any kids I knew refusing friendship because the other kid was 9 months younger. That doesnt happen. What weirdo dreamworld do you live in? "
02/13/2012:
"What if your child does not live in the schools district you are wanting them to attened? What procedures should you take in getting them into the school?"and the school has told me that it want b a problem for my child to go with us being close to the district line,now they are saying no he cant go to the school with us even paying tuition or getting a release from the school district we live in.its been nothing but a run around with them.so were could i look now for answers? "
01/30/2012:
"I have a daughter that is born Sept 22nd and the cut off is Sept 1st. I do not feel that she should be held back a whole year just becasue her bday is 22 day later. I am not a teacher but a mother and i do not feel that 22 days will make a big difference in her social/educational skills. In fact, my daughter is smarter than most of the kids that are born prior to Sept 1st as verified by her preschool teacher. she just turned 3 back in Sept and already knows how to add/subtract. Keep in mind, I'm not speaking of a child born December but i do believe the old Oct. 15th cut off date was very fair. But again jsut being 22 days past the cut off date but then having to wait an entire year to learn is very unfair. On a different note, think of the 18 year old senior that you was made to wait and is 18 years old their entire senior year now dating a sophmore that is only 15. That is a whole other problem dealing w/that 18 year old's legal future. Why would you want 18 year olds in s! chool an entire year. With most high schools ranging from grade 9-12, you are creating a bigger problem having those 18 year olds in school an entire year. They really should be in college. Well thats my 2 cents, it may be personals but i think its reasonable. And its cruel to make a child wait to learn just for a bday coming a few weeks late. "
12/13/2011:
"As former kindergarten teacher, 2nd grade teacher, currently a High School Counselor AND mother of 2 children born in October and late September, IT WOULD NEVER be an option to send them off to school EARLY. Anyone heard of social maturation?? Relational aggression? Bullying? I don't care if your child is a GENIUS. Parents, look at the research that supports this. There is reason for young 5's Junior and Developmental Kindergarten programs all over the nation! See how smart they are when they are when these same fall birthday 4 yr olds are entering school w/ the kids who have Dec,. Jan. etc. birthdays that are almost a YEAR older. They are not only at the same level, but the older kids are more confident and more MATURE! My daughter was speaking in full sentences at 12 months, spelling her name at 14 months and was on local talk show at 17 months because of her advanced linguistic skills...yes, she's smart but as a counselor and teacher I would NEVER send her early. I wa! nt to her not only to be smart, but CONFIDENT, own a room and feel good about herself by not having to constantly be comparing herself to kids a year older. As another bright TEACHER said, you will NEVER say that you wish you would have sent them early... I see students on a daily basis w/ Fall birthday's that are "young" for their grade who struggle w/ friendships, cliques, grades, you name it! Our children need us to be a voice of reason offering them the "gift of time". Now, for one moment.. ..let us pretend you had a baby on October 1st 2011. One month later on Nov 1st 2011, would you want your child's entire development to be compared (starting NOW) to the child who will be turning 1 on December 1st 2011? Yes, they will be in the same grade if you send them early. (Dec 1st is the ABSOLUTE cut off for some states,SMART states have Sept 1), play w/ the same friends, play the same sports, do the same work. So the child who is almost one is walking, saying momma, dadda, ba! ll, up,bubba, gives hugs, sits and plays w/ toys, everything ! a normal 1 year old can do... Now your infant is 1 month old-- can he do the same things? Think about it. Sincerely, Meredith M.A., LLPC "
12/12/2011:
"what does a child need to know before entering kindergarden, such as their name address abc ect. "
11/28/2011:
"My son turned 5 on october 20 and he's a. Littel behind on dental work.what I wanted to know is am I late putting him in school and if so can I get into trouble? "
11/17/2011:
"my child is 5 now and is currently attending school or has been but has missed about a month due to family issues and i was wondering can i keep him out the rest of the year and just put him back in kindergarten next year he goes to brookwood alabama "
11/9/2011:
"I would like to enroll my son taylor in your school asap. I have heard some positive things about your program. "
09/12/2011:
"I can tell you first hand that the way your child is at home in a small group or individual setting is much different than a class of ~28 kids. Assess "listening skills." Can they follow multi-step directions as they are directed at a whole group? At home a child's directions are individual. Even then the child may choose to tune out. Can they tie a shoe? How about understand the difference between a snack in a lunchbox and a lunch in a lunchbox. I have students that are very bright and lack attention. In CA they have until Dec 2nd to be 4. This will be changing gradually though. As far as a child acting out because they are bored, if they are so gifted then they should know to get a book out and read when they are done. They could add detail to a picture. Another paragraph could be added to their journal writing. Too often we hear, "I'm done!" Every child has areas that can be worked on. Parents and students enjoy doing what they do best. In reality, it is the areas that ar! e weakest that need to improve. Just sayin' I teach because I love children, but I would never "babysit" 28 children with no help. I don't have an aide. Kindergarten should not be considered free daycare. Our classes are 8:15-2:15 btw. Take a look at the state standards for Kinder. You may be surprised. "
08/31/2011:
"hello i plan on moving to kansas city and i need help on going about on enrolling my child in kindergarten she is five. how should i make the transition? "
08/19/2011:
"hi my son he born in dec 25 2008 so i want to know when he should go to kendergarden "
08/18/2011:
"I am in Georgia and have a 2 year old, soon to be 3. I am already looking into this because his birthday is October 7 and he would have to wait a year. At 2, he is mastering academic skills of an advanced 4 year old (identify all letters and their sounds out of order, knows colors, shapes, count to 20, read/identify/spell words when he sees them like Free, Boom, his name, mommy, daddy, etc), pretend play (I was a ketchup packet last week and he was pressing my back to get the ketchup out). Socially he says please, thank you, you're welcome, and automatically shares (or offers an alternative if he doesn't want to give up what he has). When someone is hurt or crying, he pats them on the back and asks if they're okay. I feel that holding him back a year is going to frustrate him because he already knows the academic side of things and he's ahead of the game socially. I don't want him to be bored then act out because of that. He gravitates to 4-5 years old now because the ki! ds his age don't communicate with him they way "he" thinks they should be. There are many instances I think they should wait. My cousin was an Oct baby, he started at 4, then got skipped a grade. He was small and entered high school at 12. Worst thing ever, he was not socially mature and it has affected him ever since. I just hope our district can assess and make provide the best direction. "
08/17/2011:
"i moved from la to ga.In ga,cut-off date is sep1st.my child is 4th year running.she will get 5in october.is she elligible for pre-k now?plz help me.iam confusing "
07/28/2011:
"I've heard so many good things about the reeves rogers discovery, how can we enroll our grandchild and does he have to be zoned for this school? "
07/18/2011:
"When do registration start for hill crest elementary in austin. I have two kids on is a beginner. Also can you apply online. "
06/2/2011:
"when the dateline for enrolling my child."
04/19/2011:
"I remember that when I started school,1930's, we had to provide proof of my birth and when my son turned 5 years old I also had to provide proof of where and when he was born and that is why I cannot understand the stupid birthers."
04/4/2011:
"I am curious to find out what district I live in, who would I contact?"
01/11/2011:
"I have taught kindergarten for years. I have never met a parent say 'I wish I did not hold my child back a year' but have heard 'I wish I held my child back' As a parent/teacher I held my October and July boys back. They did public kindergarten than private.Best thing I ever did. Now one is a senior at UCSB and one is a Freshman at Santa Clara University. I did not keep my July daughter back. I have always regretted my decision. Everyone told me but she's a girl. She gets really good grades but is not at the same maturity level with her classmates. There are girls a whole year older than her. I say give the GIFT of a year. You will not regret it! "
01/10/2011:
"My son misses his cutoff by 10 days. The cut off date is Sept 1st for kindergarten but he turns 5 only on Sept 10th. His body structure looks like a 5 or 6 yr old boy. I would like to do the kindergarten screening and put him in the kindergarten. Some pepole say to wait for 1 yr so that he will become more matured as he is a boy.Plz advice whether I can do the screening and put him in kindergarten or should I have to wait for 1 yr till he turns 6. "
12/21/2010:
"I think some are missing the bigger picture here. Sure, there are probably some children ready for Kindergarten academics at 4 years old. But what about their maturity? What about them being one of the, if not the youngest, in their class depending on the state their going to school in. I have the opportunity to start my daughter in Kindergarten next year at 4 years and 11 months old at a private school but I will not be doing so. I would rather her have the extra year to grow in maturity level and be closer to 6. I think it will be to her advantage. Why rush her when she'll have many years of schooling?"
08/5/2010:
"When do you start enrolling for kindergarten?"
08/2/2010:
"Things have been the same way for years and years. And instead of asking a general website questions, why dont you people call the schools in the district you live in and ASK THEM duh... looks like some people need to join their children in kindergarten "
04/13/2010:
"It seems like the main issue, from reading previous comments, is the age at which children in California can begin Kindergarten. From my understanding, and this may vary by district, the child has to be 5 years old before the school year starts (typically late August, early September). Those of you with children who's birthdays are later (Oct, Nov, Dec) may want to check with your district to see if they have Early Admissions Kindergarten (EAK) and what those requirements are."
03/29/2010:
"Hi, My daughter is turning 5 years on Oct 30, 2010. Will she be eligible for kindergarden in California?? If yes, may I know which districts have this eligibility criteria?? She writes A to Z both small as well as capitals. She also reads and writes 1 to 100. Regards Parveen."
03/22/2010:
"Could we just have facts on here? I'm tired of the whining about how gifted your kids are. We need specific places to find cut off dates for kids specific to ISDs regardless of the state laws. I've been told there are ways to work around them through testing and things called 'pre-kindergarten'. And that the age dates are for kindergarten and 1st but then you can start 2nd grade younger. Nothing I have seen so far helps me find this. "
03/8/2010:
"My grandson turned 5 in Novemeber 2009, I was just told that he must wait until August 2010 to be eligible to start school at Mesa Grande, Heperia, CA. Is that right? He'll be 4 months away from his 6th birthday! "
02/25/2010:
"it is great for me to choose a right school to my son, he is learning disability."
02/25/2010:
"I am also confused... My daughter is 4 turning 5 in october, does that mean she is not allowed to attend school in this school year or would she have to wait until fllowing school year???????"
02/18/2010:
"My daughter is bright and deserves to start school with all of her friends from preschool. She is ready for kindergarten socially and academically. That's not me as a mother saying that, it's according to her teachers' assessments. She counts to 100, can count by 5s & 10s, knows money and their worth, sounds of letters, recognizes letters, and early phonics. Just because her birthday is in November shouldn't be a penalty for continuing my daughter's education. She won't be 14/15 hanging out with 16/17 year olds. She will actually be the same age. The cut off should be the year they were born in, meaning December 31st. "
01/19/2010:
"Please clarify if child must pass a proficency test to enter kindergarten - do they have to go to pre-K if they do not qualify or able to pass entry tests? I am confused? I understood the only requirement was vaccinations, birth certificate and proof of residence."
12/18/2009:
"does a child have to be potty trained to start kindergarten and my son is delay like 2 years behind what will the school do about that"
11/6/2009:
"We just moved in to a new area here in philly at about 1 year and 5 months. My daughter came from anne frank school in 19115 from K-1st grade. My daughter was disappointed the school that she was currently attending right now. A lot of bully's and the school standard is low. She was convincing me to transfer her to a charter school that is closest to our address. I am worried because she is good since she was attending to schools and now she was always complaining that she is bored to her school, they keep in doing it over and over those subjects/homeworks. My daughter loves to explore and learn something new. She is a bright kid and have a lots of ideas. Please advice me how to transfer my kid here at charter school 19116 I don't have any idea or knowledge how to enroll her at the school. "
10/13/2009:
"What if your child does not live in the schools district you are wanting them to attened? What procedures should you take in getting them into the school?"
09/2/2009:
"So all I see here in these postings is that everyone is so bright and gifted they need to start early. No one is thinking down the road when their kid is going to be the one hanging out with the 16-17 year olds when they are only 14-15. I know your kids are smart now, but I also know the ramifications of peer pressure, I say let your kid be a kid for as long as possible, find a great learning environment and enroll in kindergarten on a regular schedule."
07/7/2009:
"Go to this website to view the cut-off dates by which your child must turn 5 in order to enter kindergarten. http://users.stargate.net/~cokids/kindergarten_cut-off_dates.htm"
06/15/2009:
"I just wanted to thank you for this page. I was almost done filling out the paper work to enroll my 4 yr. old into kindergarten when I saw the calendar for the upcoming year. I noticed that the start date of school was Aug 24th and my daughters birthday is Aug 28th------ I paniced. Was she going to be able to enter school at 4 years old??????? So thank you for clarifying! "
06/9/2009:
"I have a question regarding my daughter's situation. She is going to 9y.o. this fall and she took two years in foreign school outside of the U.S. Now, we going to bring her back to the country. My question: is there any requirements to have a transcript from that foreign school for my daughter before enrolling."
03/23/2009:
"I have a question if a parent is suppose to enroll there kids at 5yrs of age or if they don't and wait till they are 6 yrs old is there a law stating that they have to enroll them at 5 or can they actully wait to have them go when they are 6 years old? My step daughter was suppose to enroll her kid at age 5 and wants to wait till hes 6 which then that makes his brother 5 and she wants him to go at the same time. so he will have an older brother in kindergarden with him? Why is this okay with the schools? shouldn't there be a law in place where if your kid is 5 they should start school at that age?"
09/19/2008:
"I was wondering if your child needs to have been in preschool before they go to kindergarten? I came from Missouri and there they almost had to be in preschool before they went to kindergarten. What are the California standards?"
08/25/2008:
"Dunwoody Christian Academy in Georgia has a Dec 31st birthday cutoff. I have a 21/2 yr old daughter and I'm trying to find a school for her for Kindergarten. I have a 16 yr old son who was born in December, a week after my daughter's birthday, and has always been among the smartest and most mature in his class even though he began kindergarten at 4. Now he's applying to Princeton, Ga Tech, Cornell and Auburn, so I don't buy the late birthday garbage. I think all children are different and should be evaluated accordingly."
07/25/2008:
"My daughter seems to be advanced for her age and tall I might add. Most people think she's 4. She's 2 and 1/2 and her birthday is in October. I am trying to find out what my options are, if any, as far as her not waiting a year to start kindergarten due to her late birthday. She already knows her ABC'S, can count to 25, says the sounds of 10 letters, and recognizes the basic shapes. Again, she is only 2 and 1/2 years hold, so I figure by 5 she will be more than ready for kindergarten. She's a little mature for her age, which I believe is due to having 2 older brothers at home. However she will have to wait a whole year due to her birthday and will be 6 years old in kindergarten. I started kindergarten when I was four years old in England, just because my parents forgot to bring my birth certificate and no one bothered to enforce it. Any suggestions for private, charter, or public schools in Georgia where I may be able to get around this."
07/3/2008:
"I HAVE A GRANDCHILD THAT BIRTHDAY IS IN OCTOBER, AND HE IS VERY SMART. HE LEARNED HIS ALPHABETS AND NUMBERS 1-10 AND COULD IDENTIFY THEM AT THE AGE OF TWO. HE KNOWS HIS COLORS, SHAPES, HIS BIRTHDAY, HIS NAME, HIS SISTERS, HIS PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS NAME. HE KNOWS HIS ANIMALS THE SOUND THEY MAKE AND ETC. I THINK THAT HOLDING HIM BACK BECAUSE HIS BIRTHDAY IS LATE IS UNFAIR. I THINK IF THEY ARE SMART ENOUGH AND WILL TURN FIVE BEFORE THE YEAR IS OVER THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO ENROLL. TENNESSEE SHOULD CHANGE THEIR LAWS IMMEDIATELY."
06/2/2008:
"is it mandatory that a child need to be potty trained when entering kindergarten? how about those kids who have developmental delayed or have speech problem. how would they deal with that if they're not potty trained?"
04/29/2008:
"My son will be entering a very large kindergarten class in VT this fall. There will be 27 children with only 1 teacher and 1 aide. I am very concerned about the lack of supervision and the chaos that will ensue. Does anyone have any feedback on class sizes around the country."
10/22/2007:
"I am feeling abit overwhelemed looking for a school. I use to make fun of parents setting up their kids with preschools and kindergartens while still in the womb! Now I know!!! My son is 4 and is in a 4-year-old kindergarten and I am stressing over what school to send him to next year. The elementary school has three divisions. School of Technology, School of Inguiry, and School of Fine Arts. Then there is the year-round school and Charter school. My son needs to be challenged and stay busy, so that he does not get in trouble. Please help me make a decision."
09/4/2007:
"I have heard that the State of Michigan is talking about pushing up the start date for entering Kindergartners that they need to be 5 by Sept 1st. Is this true? Has it passed and will it be a gradual move up????"
09/4/2007:
"My daugther is going to Kindergarten and I was informed at a private school that she is not allowed by law to be enrolled as she is Mexican national. Is it true? She is under H4 visa as I'm under H1-B visa, meaning we have a legal status to stay in the US. "
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