Calif. May Keep Children 5 and Younger From Kindergarten

June 17, 2010 1 min read

A proposed law in California would require children to be 5-years-old when they start kindergarten.

Now, any child who turns 5 before Dec. 2 can begin kindergarten. But under the proposed measure, a child whose fifth birthday is on or after Sept. 1 would have to wait a year to enter.

“Do you really want kids to start school before they’re ready?” asked the bill’s author, state Sen. Joe Simitian, a Democrat, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “The answer to that question is obviously no.”

If the law passes, California would join most states in requiring a September birthday cutoff. Simitian’s bill would phase in the requirement over three years, moving the eligibility date up a month each fall starting in 2012, until it becomes Sept. 1, the article says.

Some parents voluntarily keep kids with summer or fall birthdays out of kindergarten until they turn 5. But such a decision puts a financial burden on families, many of whom cannot always afford another year of child care or preschool, according to the Chronicle.

Educators argue that students are more ready at age 5 than 4 for the increasingly demanding kindergarten experience, the article says.

But starting kindergarten later wouldn’t just benefit children academically. The law is expected to save the state about $700 million a year for 13 years, about $7,000 for each of the 100,000 students who have to wait to start school.

The state Senate approved the bill earlier this month on a 28-4 vote, and it moves to the state Assembly for its consideration.

Do you think a youngster needs to be 5 to start kindergarten? Does it make a difference in children’s readiness?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.