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Age to Start Kindergarten By State

Preschools and Kindergartens
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As a parent, you may need to know the age to start kindergarten by state so you can determine if your child is eligible to begin school. 40 states in the United States require that a child be five years old on or before October 16th in the year he starts kindergarten. Three states and the District of Columbia have set the age in December or January 1st. Seven states have a local option on the required date.

Age to Start Kindergarten by State

The age to start kindergarten by state list shows that children need to be five years old by August, September, or October in most states. Three states have the date set in December and January while the other seven states leave this decision up to the local school district.

Here is the list of the age to start Kindergarten by state. The child must be five years old by the date listed:

  • Alabama - September 1
  • Alaska - August 15
  • Arizona - September 1
  • Arkansas - September 15
  • California - December 2 changes to Sept. 1 in 2012
  • Colorado - Local Option
  • Connecticut - January 1
  • Delaware - August 31
  • Florida - September 1
  • Georgia - September 1
  • Hawaii - August 1
  • Idaho - September 1
  • Illinois - September 1
  • Indiana - July 1
  • Iowa - September 15
  • Kansas - August 31
  • Kentucky - October 1
  • Louisiana - September 30
  • Maine - October 15
  • Maryland - September 1
  • Massachusetts - Local Option
  • Michigan - December 1
  • Minnesota - September 1
  • Mississippi - September 1
  • Missouri - August 1
  • Montana - September 10
  • Nebraska - October 15
  • Nevada - September 30
  • New Hampshire - Local Option
  • New Jersey - Local Option
  • New Mexico - September 1
  • New York - Local Option
  • North Carolina - October 16
  • North Dakota - September 1
  • Ohio - August 1 or September 30 - local option
  • Oklahoma - September 1
  • Oregon - September 1
  • Pennsylvania - Local Option
  • Rhode Island - September 1
  • South Carolina - September 1
  • South Dakota - September 1
  • Tennessee - September 30
  • Texas - September 1
  • Utah - September 2
  • Vermont - January 1
  • Virginia - September 30
  • Washington - August 31
  • West Virginia - September 1
  • Wisconsin - September 1
  • Wyoming - September 15
  • District of Columbia - December 31

Of course, although this list suggests the eligible age to start kindergarten by state, this doesn't mean you have to start your child if he or she is the appropriate age by the date in question. Logically speaking, there is no way all five year old children are ready to start school at the same time. Children mature at different rates and may be physically mature but not emotionally mature enough to start school. There are kids starting school that have been ready for months before they go and some that will not be ready for a year, and there are children at all levels of readiness in between.

Some parents think that holding a child back will increase school performance later on but studies do not necessarily support that assumption. When in doubt, it is usually best to send the child to school according to the state guidelines.

One option that some school districts offer is a transitional kindergarten class. This basically involves taking two years to go through kindergarten for those kids who were not really ready. The curriculum is at a slower pace and there is a lot less pressure. For some children and parents, this is easier to handle than repeating kindergarten, because it doesn’t imply that the child failed kindergarten.

Your options for your child if you feel he or she is not ready are to check into transitional options in your school district, keep him or her out until the next year, or let him or her repeat kindergarten if necessary. By checking the list that shows the age to start kindergarten by state, you can make a decision before the time comes.

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