Some parents are expressing concerns about the Big Walnut School District’s new age requirement for upcoming kindergarten students.
During the October school board meeting, district Director of Academic Achievement Jen Young reported that the age the children would be able to enroll in kindergarten is changing.
Students must be age 5 on or before Aug. 1 for parents to enroll them in kindergarten. Young said mid-August school-year start dates are becoming typical statewide; and 60 percent of central Ohio school districts have already adopted the age-5-by-Aug.-1 kindergarten eligibility requirement.
In 2010, the state of Ohio said school districts could go with one of two dates the student had to be age 5 by before entering kindergarten — Sept. 30 or Aug. 1. Since then, Big Walnut has required students to be age 5 on or before Sept. 30 before they could be enrolled in kindergarten.
For the 2016-17 school year, that requirement will change.
“The school year is beginning earlier and currently we have kids in kindergarten that are 4 years old for their first seven weeks in kindergarten,” Young said. “Studies show that kindergarten is not developmentally appropriate for most 4-year-olds. Research has shown students are more successful academically and socially if they are age 5 when they start kindergarten, and here at Big Walnut we want to set our students up for success.”
Young said currently 9 percent of Big Walnut kindergartners, about 20 to 30 students, fall in that Aug. 1 to Sept. 30 window.
Since that October announcement, there have been concerns expressed by parents of students who have a fifth birthday between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30, and had spent the past year in a pre-school program preparing them for kindergarten during the 2016-17 school year.
Some parents say they are concerned about the cost of repeating another year of kindergarten-track pre-school; some say they are concerned about their children repeating the pre-kindergarten curriculum and becoming bored with learning.
Young said district administrators are aware of those concerns.
“During the first year of implementation, parents of students turning 5 between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30 will have the option of having an early start date by writing a letter to the superintendent and submitting it along with the kindergarten registration form,” Young said. “At that time, a team, including the child’s parents, will make a decision about what’s in the child’s best interest.”
Young said kindergarten registration starts in early spring. If parents of students who will turn age 5 between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30 have concerns, they may contact Young by calling the district’s central office at 740-965-3010 or by email at email@example.com.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093