Mandatory Kindergarten Begins for 5-Year-Olds

June 30, 2014, 2:03 PM HST · Updated July 1, 6:07 AM
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Senate Bill 2768 Signing Ceremony. Photo courtesy Office of the Governor, State of Hawaiʻi.

Senate Bill 2768 signing ceremony that requires kids at least 5-years of age to attend kindergarten. File photo courtesy Office of the Governor, State of Hawaiʻi.

By Wendy Osher

A new law that makes kindergarten a requirement for five-year-old kids, is now being implemented as public schools get ready to begin session in August.

Under the new law, children who will be at least 5-years of age on or before July 31 of the school year are required to attend kindergarten, unless otherwise exempt.

Parents of children born on or after Aug. 1, 2009 have several options including enrollment at a private pre-school, or enrollment at pre-kindergarten classes at select schools across the state.

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There are only 18 public schools in the state offering pre-kindergarten for kids born between August 1, 2009 and July 31, 2013.

Maui County schools participating in the program are Hāna, Lānaʻi, and Kaunakakai Elementary Schools. State officials say the program is aimed at serving 420 children who meet income and age requirements. Income guidelines limit the program to those who are eligible for free and reduced priced meals.

“We encourage parents to be aware of the changes and take appropriate action for their children,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi in a department press release. “Kindergarten is a critical time in ensuring children have a solid academic foundation.”

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Some of the documents that parents will need when they enroll children in kindergarten are: a birth certificate, tuberculosis clearance, a completed student health record, and proof of current address.

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