Kindergarten Frequently Asked QuestionsFrequently asked questions regarding California state law relating to kindergarten.
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).
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 September 1 for the 2014-15 school year and each school year thereafter to be legally eligible for first grade (EC Section 48010).
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 September 1 for the 2014-15 school year and thereafter.
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]). However, the child cannot start school at the beginning of the school year, and must wait to attend until five years of age is reached.
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 Web page .
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.
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).
Can students who are age eligible for kindergarten attend transitional kindergarten?
Although this is a local decision, CDE recommends that districts establish criteria to determine selection requirements for kindergarten eligible children who enroll in transitional kindergarten. Children who are age-eligible to attend kindergarten, but choose to enroll in transitional kindergarten will need a signed Kindergarten Continuance Form verifying that the parent/guardian agrees to have his/her child continue in kindergarten for one additional year. A sample form, in English and other languages, is available.
Can children who turn five years old after September 1 start kindergarten at the beginning of the school year?
No. Pursuant to EC 48000(a), a child is eligible for kindergarten if the child will have his or her fifth birthday by September 1.
However, pursuant to EC 48000(b), local education agencies (LEAs) may enroll children in TK or kindergarten on or after their 5th birthday, on a case-by-case basis, if the governing board determines that the admittance is in the best interests of the child, and the parent or guardian is given information regarding the advantages and disadvantages, and any other explanatory information about the effect of this early admittance. Therefore, age-ineligible students (e.g., a child whose 5th birthday is on January 5) cannot attend school at the beginning of the school year, and cannot be admitted or attend school until they have attained the age of 5. Average Daily Attendance (ADA) can be claimed for these "late start" students on the day of their admittance.
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.
How long is a kindergarten school day? (Updated 14-June-2022)
By statute, the maximum school day in kindergarten is 4 hours (Education Code [EC] 46110). An exception to this statute allows schools that have adopted an early primary program (extended-day kindergarten) to exceed 4 hours (EC 8973). Pursuant to EC 37202, TK programs operated by a district must be of equal length to any kindergarten programs operated by the same district. A school district may operate a TK and a kindergarten class for different lengths of time if the school district operates an early primary program pursuant to EC Section 8973 or if there is an approved State Board of Education waiver on file. The number of required instructional minutes for TK and K is 36,000 minutes per year; the minimum length of instructional time that must be offered to constitute a school day is 180 minutes (EC 46117 and 46201).
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.
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 near the one-year anniversary of their child's admittance to verify that they agree to have their child continue in kindergarten for one additional year.
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.
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).
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.
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.
- Elementary Education Main page
Resources for those interested in the academic achievement of K-6 public school students; includes transition-to-school guidance.
- Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions regarding California state law relating to kindergarten.
- Kindergarten in California
California state law and information regarding admission to kindergarten.
- State Advisory Council (SAC) Resources
Resources developed for the State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care (SAC).
- Local Planning Council Contacts
Contact information for local child care and development planning council (LPC) representatives in each California county.
- Child Development Training Consortium
Promotes high quality early education to California’s children and families by providing financial and technical assistance to child development students and professionals.