Early education changes

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:09 PM

A new state law is changing the age requirement for young students enrolling in kindergarten. The minimum age of kindergartners will be phased up through the next three school years.

Kindergartners in the current school year had to be age 5 by Dec. 1, 2012.

Students enrolling in kindergarten for the 2013-14 school year will need to be 5 years old by Nov. 1, 2013. For the 2014-15 school year, they'll need to be 5 by Oct. 1, 2014. And they'll need to be 5 by Sept. 1, 2015, in order to be in a kindergarten class for the 2015-16 school year.

Still, parents will be able to fill out a waiver to have the school district consider allowing their child to enroll in kindergarten even if they don’t meet the age requirement.

Families living in the district must submit their waiver request by June 1 to be considered for the following fall. For families who move into a district after that time, their waiver application is due by Aug. 1.

Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Keith Konarska said the state most likely changed the age for a number of reasons. He said many believe children might not be developmentally ready if they start kindergarten at too young of an age.

“The change is seen as favorable, according to the current expectations for academic and social development,” said Catherine Bouwman, a kindergarten teacher at Rosy Mound Elementary School. “Academic demands have heightened over the years and kindergarten-age students are expected to master some difficult reading, writing and math concepts.”

Fruitport Community Schools Superintendent Bob Szymoniak said the change is a good thing.

“I think it will help to ensure more students are successful in school,” he said.

Bouwman said there are noticeable differences between the younger students including fine-motor development, speech and language development, social maturity, and the ability to handle tasks.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


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