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All Things Kindergarten Q&A

What you need to know about age requirements, half day or full day benefits, early entrance, and more.

Answers by: Erika Copeland, Queen Creek Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education.

If you have a little one nearing kindergarten, you might be trying to figure out your best options. Do you really need to send them to kindergarten since it’s not mandatory here in Arizona? Should you send them half day or full day? What are the age cut offs? Can you send your child if they’re not 5 yet? What if you never sent them to preschool, will they be behind?

Erika Copeland, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education in the Queen Creek Unified School District offers answers to all these questions and more.

Plus, check out the Higley Unified School District’s unique Dual Language Immersion program offered in both Mandarin and Spanish!

Since kindergarten is optional in Arizona, does my child really need to attend?

Kindergarten is beneficial for all types of students in helping them prepare and learn about the classroom setting. Kindergarten students gain knowledge in academic core areas such as reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. Kindergarten can set a strong educational foundation for a child’s future academic career.

When does my child need to be the age of 5 by in order to start kindergarten in Arizona?

A child is eligible for admission to kindergarten if the child is five years of age by August 31 of the current school year. If a child turns five between September 1 and December 31 of the current school year, he/she is eligible to apply for early kindergarten entrance testing.

What if my child seems “too young” socially or emotionally even though they are 5 years old?

Some parents of children born closer to August 31 may decide to hold their child until the next year based on the child’s development. Attending kindergarten introduction events such as spring Kindergarten Round-Up nights at your neighborhood school may help answer questions and provide more clarification.

What about early entrance kindergarten? Who is eligible and how can I get my child enrolled at a younger age?

If a child turns five between September 1 and December 31 of the current school year, they are eligible to apply for Early Entrance testing. Testing typically occurs in a group/classroom setting testing six to nine children at a time. Testing will include academic, social, and motor skills.

What are the benefits of half day versus full day kindergarten?

The decision to participate in half-day or full-day kindergarten is up to individual families based on their needs, schedules and priorities. Students in half-day kindergarten are exposed to a classroom setting and core academics and may not have the stamina yet for full-day participation, or perhaps they are still taking naps during the day. Students in full-day classes are active throughout the school day and pick-up times coincide with older grade levels, which may be more convenient for families with siblings. Both programs can be beneficial in helping set your child up for success in first grade and beyond.

If my child never attended preschool or kinderprep, are they going to feel behind in kindergarten?

For many students, kindergarten is their first experience with a classroom setting. While some may know classroom procedures or rules from preschool or kinderprep, they are all learning academic concepts and experiencing activities and socialization together. At the kindergarten age, many students are quick to pick up new concepts and progress with their peers.

Higley Unified School District Dual Language Immersion Program

Info provided by Heidi Lindsay, Executive Director of Elementary at the Higley Unified School District

Finding the right kindergarten for your child is also incredibly important. As Arizona is an open-enrollment state for public school, this provides parents and families the flexibility to find a school that fits within their child’s needs.

The Higley Unified School District has a unique dual language immersion program at both San Tan and Coronado Elementary offering the following options:

  • Mandarin or Spanish Dual Language options.
  • Beginning in preschool all the way through 6th grade.
  • 50/50 models: Students spend 50% of their day learning with a highly qualified English teacher and 50% learning with a highly qualified Mandarin or Spanish teacher – depending on the program/school they choose.
  • Students learn content in both languages such as math, social students, and science.
  • Focuses on student bilingualism AND biliteracy.
  • Maintains high academic achievement and fosters cultural competence.
  • Studies show that dual language immersion at an early age can help enhance a children’s brain development and expand their cultural awareness.



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