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What Age for Kindergarten?

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What age for kindergarten has become a hotly debated topic. To the baby boom generation, being held back for any reason was a source of stress and shame. Today, many parents are holding back their children in preschool, so they enroll in kindergarten when they’re six, giving them an extra boost in performance and skills. In most states, the regulations specify that five-year-olds can enter kindergarten, as long as they turn five by a certain specific date.

Why Change the Kindergarten Age?

Parents and educators sometimes disagree on the appropriateness and the reasons for holding children back for kindergarten. Whether it provides an academic, social or sports advantage, it is controversial. Many educators are arguing against such practices, calling them “misguided” and add additional costs to districts when many of them are struggling financially. They have developed a term for it, called “redshirting,” which is a term used in college athletics when promising athletes are held back so they can play another year.

Many parents want districts to change their regulations, so their children can attend when they are six, instead of five. They believe that school curriculums have changed, that there is more testing and academic work in kindergarten and first grade, and that many children aren’t emotionally ready for this increased pressure. Educators argue that children do better when they are in a group close to their own age, and that’s one reason many parents are looking for new regulations, they want the children around their own to be the same age. They also believe that being more mature will help them deal with the social pressures of elementary school.

In addition, research indicates that at least 1.5 million children, or 35 percent of children, are not prepared for kindergarten when they enter the classroom. For this reason, many states offer pre-first-grade programs, also called “extra-year” programs, often combined with parental consent, rather than just placing them in the programs on their own.

What Your District Does

To find out requirements for kindergarten registration and the age requirements, contact your local school district. Facing parental concern, many districts across the country are rethinking their policies about what age for kindergarten is right.

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