Kindergarten is a public school program to help young children get ready for 1st grade. Kindergarten helps children become ready for school by developing their social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and language skills. Most children start kindergarten when they are five years old.
Kindergarten attendance is NOT mandatory in Massachusetts. However, Massachusetts regulations require all public school districts to offer a free kindergarten program for their residents. The kindergarten programs must include a minimum of 425 hours of structured learning time per academic school year, or 2.5 hours per day.
I find it interesting that kindergarten attendance varies so much from state to state. Not only does the birthdate in relation to entrance to kindergarten fluctuate but also numerous states do not require your child to go to kindergarten at all. These states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, MASSACHUSETTS, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Why is is that kindergarten is not mandatory?
I have taught kindergarten in Massachusetts for 8 years now and I have never understood why states would not require students to attend. The advantages that a child receives help to foster their continued growth in first grade. In addition, students create peer and teacher bonds that support their expanded learning. Though when I searched to identify why states do not require kindergarten I did find a variety of conversations between mothers, teachers, politicians that debate the importance of kindergarten. Some say they want their freedom to choose. Which to me is unclear. I mean families can choose to homeschool. Why should they have a choice about kindergarten but not about first grade and beyond? Having an inside view of of one kindergarten program on Cape Cod I must say that the amount of direct literacy instruction alone that kindergarteners are privy to is quiet extensive. Many say kindergarten is the new first grade; and I tell you they are not far off. The expectations are more stringent in just my 8 years of teaching. I have my own beliefs but please share yours...
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