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.

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:

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:

You may also contact your district to find out how to apply for exemption from vaccinations for religious or medical reasons.

Making the transition to kindergarten

The No Child Left Behind Act requires schools nationwide to develop a transition plan to help children move smoothly from early childhood programs to elementary school. Schools are also required to provide information on developmental stages and what to expect in kindergarten. Check with your local school district about receiving this information.

Additional resources

To find out more about your school choice alternatives in California, check the GreatSchools.org School Choice Center.

For more information about kindergarten, in California consult your local school district or check the Kindergarten Overview and the Elementary Education Overview from the California Department of Education Web site.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children Web site for more information and resources.