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Kindergarten Age Change Proposed

The State Board of Education voted Wednesday to have fewer 4-year-old children entering kindergarten.  The plan, which still needs approval by the General Assembly, moves up the kindergarten cutoff dates three months to Oct. 1 and will be phased in over four years.  The current cutoff is Jan. 1.

The board says that there is now too wide an age range in kindergarten classrooms since some children delay starting kindergarten for a year.  The span is 4½  to 6½ years old. Less variation in age makes teaching more focused and developmentally appropriate and could help address the state’s achievement gap.

"I think it would be a good change," says Susan Zanone, a kindergarten teacher at Columbus Magnet School in Norwalk who has been teaching for 20 years.  "Kindergarten has changed so much.  The expectations and requirements are more demanding.  Some 4-year-olds are just not ready."

In addition, the state board wants to require parents who are considering delaying their children’s kindergarten entry a year to get approval from local boards of education.  Some parents hold back their children because they are not mature enough or to give them an advantage in sports. Alternatively, the change will worry some parents because it means an extra year of preschool fees or inadequate childcare.

Superintendent Susan Marks agrees with changing the age to enter kindergarten, provided that there are good preschool options available.  "It's good to start the kids older, as long as there is universal preschool with quality programs," she says.

Currently, Connecticut has one of the latest kindergarten cutoff dates in the nation.  The proposed date change would bring the state in line with the rest of the country.

Do you agree with this change?  Is the age range in classrooms too large? Did you hold your kid back or push them ahead?  Why?

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