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Kindergarten Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions regarding California state law relating to kindergarten.
  1. At what age are children required to attend school in California?
  2. Must children attend kindergarten?
  3. Must districts offer kindergarten?
  4. What is the minimum age for admittance to kindergarten in California?
  5. May a child whose fifth birthday falls after December 2 of the school year be admitted to kindergarten once the child has reached his or her fifth birthday?
  6. Are there immunization requirements for school entry?
  7. How long is the kindergarten school day?
  8. Do the subject-matter standards apply to kindergarten?
  9. What are the eligibility criteria for kindergarten enrollment?
  10. Is there a parental permission form to continue a student in kindergarten?
  11. Do parents have the right to hold back their child in kindergarten even if the child has met the school’s criteria?
  12. I am a parent of a kindergartner, and my child’s teacher has suggested retention. What are my rights as a parent?
  13. Is the absolute maximum for retention in kindergarten one additional year?
  14. Some schools are choosing to move the kindergarten admittance date back to September 1 for the 2013-14 school year, so that all children turning five between September 2 and December 2 would be automatically admitted into a transitional kindergarten program, as opposed to just children turning five between October 2 and December 2. Is this permissible?
  15. Does a child, who completes kindergarten this school year (2012-13) and who turned five years old from October 2 through October 31, 2012 have to repeat kindergarten?
  16. If my age-ineligible child completes a full year of kindergarten in a private school, must the public school admit him to first grade?

  1. At what age are children required to attend school in California?
    In California children between six and eighteen years of age are subject to compulsory full-time education (Education Code [EC] Section 48200).

  2. Must children attend kindergarten?
    Since school is mandatory for six year old students, parents and guardians must enroll their children in school once they reach the age of six (EC Section 48200). It is a local decision, with parental input, whether the six year old student will be enrolled in kindergarten or first grade. For first grade enrollment, California law requires a child to be six years old on or before:

    • October 1 for the 2013-14 school year, and
    • September 1 for the 2014-15 school year and each school year thereafter to be legally eligible for first grade (EC Section 48010).

  3. Must districts offer kindergarten?
    Each elementary or unified school district must offer kindergarten classes for all children eligible to attend. Once enrolled, children in kindergarten must attend on the same basis as children ages six through eighteen.

  4. What is the minimum age for admittance to kindergarten in California?
    According to EC 48000[a], a child shall be admitted to a kindergarten maintained by the school district at the beginning of a school year, or at a later time in the same year if the child will have his or her fifth birthday on or before:

    • October 1 for the 2013-14 school year
    • September 1 for the 2014-15 school year and beyond.

  5. May a child whose fifth birthday falls after the above date be admitted to kindergarten once the child has reached his or her fifth birthday?
    Although rarely used, on a case-by-case basis, a district may admit a child who has attained the age of five years (EC 48000[b]).

  6. Are there immunization requirements for school entry?
    California law requires each child to have a health examination report for school entry. This report consists of a health examination and an up-to-date immunization record. The Report of Health Examination for School Entry must be completed by a health examiner. The Report of Health Examination form can be found on the California Department of Health Care Services, School Entry Health Exam Requirement External link opens in new window or tab., Web page.

  7. How long is the kindergarten school day?
    By statute, the maximum school day in kindergarten is four hours (EC 46110). An exception to this statute allows schools that have adopted an early primary program (extended-day kindergarten) to exceed four hours (EC 8973).

  8. Do the subject-matter standards apply to kindergarten?
    California's content standards, which are designed to encourage the highest achievement of every student by defining the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire at each grade level, are available for the core subjects at all grade levels, including kindergarten. See the State Board-adopted content standards on the California Department of Education's Web site.

  9. What are the eligibility criteria for kindergarten enrollment?
    Eligibility for kindergarten is on the basis of age only. Once a child has entered kindergarten, some districts or schools may administer tests to determine a child’s readiness for specific aspects of the curriculum. The only state-adopted test used at the kindergarten level is the California English Language Development Test (also known as the CELDT), administered to students whose primary language is other than English.

  10. Is there a parental permission form to continue a student in kindergarten?
    A sample form, in English and other available translations, is available. Parents must sign this form to verify that they agree to have their child continue in kindergarten for one additional year.

    Kindergarten Continuance Form (English) (PDF)
    Available Translations of the Kindergarten Continuance Form

    The Kindergarten Continuance Form is used by school Districts to verify that parents agree to have their child continue in kindergarten for one additional year.

  11. Do parents have the right to hold back their child in kindergarten even if the child has met the school's criteria?
    Under EC sections 48000, 48010, and 48011, a child who has been lawfully admitted to kindergarten and who is at least five years of age in a private or public school in California or any other state and who has completed one year in that school shall be admitted to the first grade of an elementary school unless the parent or guardian and the school agree that the child should continue in kindergarten (for not more than an additional school year).

  12. I am a parent of a kindergartner, and my child’s teacher has suggested retention. What are my rights as a parent? School districts may not retain a child in kindergarten without the consent of a parent or guardian. Parents are not required to sign a Kindergarten Continuance Form if they do not agree that the child should repeat kindergarten.

  13. Is the absolute maximum for retention in kindergarten one additional year?
    Yes. According to EC Section 48011, a child may not continue in kindergarten for more than one year past the year he or she first attended kindergarten.

  14. Some schools are choosing to move the kindergarten admittance date back to September 1 for the 2013-14 school year, so that all children turning five between September 2 and December 2 would be automatically admitted into a transitional kindergarten program, as opposed to just children turning five between October 2 and December 2. Is this permissible?
    While a district may choose to accelerate implementation of the kindergarten admission phase-in dates by enrolling all children who will turn five between September 2 and December 2 in 2013-14 into a transitional kindergarten program, if a parent requests that his or her kindergarten-eligible child (a child who will turn five between September 1 and October 1 inclusive) be admitted to kindergarten instead of transitional kindergarten, the school district must honor that request.

    On the other hand, if a child is kindergarten-eligible but the decision is made to place that child into transitional kindergarten, then the district must ensure that the Kindergarten Continuance Form (English) (PDF) (Available Translations of the Kindergarten Continuance Form) is signed before the student can continue into kindergarten the following year.

  15. Does a child, who completes kindergarten this school year (2012-13) and who turned five years old from October 2 through October 31, 2012 have to repeat kindergarten?
    No, a student is eligible to enroll for first grade for the 2013-14 school year since he was lawfully enrolled in kindergarten for the 2012-13 school year (EC Section 48011 and EC Section 4800). For audit purposes, a statement, signed by the district and parent/guardian, is placed in the official school records for these five-year-olds who have been advanced to first grade (EC Section 48011).

  16. If my age-ineligible child completes a full year of kindergarten in a private school, must the public school admit him to first grade?
    No. Consistent with EC Section 48011, at the discretion of the school district, a public school may only admit an age-ineligible child who has attended a private school kindergarten to the first grade if:

    • the child is five years old,
    • the child has completed a full year of private school kindergarten,
    • the local district determines that the child is ready for first grade work, and
    • the parent or guardian consents.

It is important to recognize that private schools are not required to comply with the kindergarten and first grade admission dates for public schools (EC sections 48000 and 48010), the curriculum, or the State Board of Education-approved content standards that are followed by public local educational agencies (LEAs).

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Questions: Kathleen Halvorson | KHalvorson@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-4629 
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