RALEIGH (Winston-Salem Journal) - For all children, starting kindergarten is a big step.
Sometimes, taking that step too early - when a child is too young or too immature - can cause setbacks that affect the child’s entire educational development, education experts and state legislators say.
With that in mind, legislators voted yesterday to change the state’s cutoff date for when children can enroll in kindergarten. The change will take effect starting with the 2009-10 school year, and it will mean that fewer 4-year-olds will be attending kindergarten with 5- and 6-year-olds.
Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, proposed the idea. He is a former member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board, and he said he has talked with students and adults who look back and attest that starting kindergarten too early affected them for years.
On its face, the change seems minor. It moves the cutoff date back by just a month and a half. Children will now have to turn 5 years old by Aug. 31 - rather than the current date of Oct. 16 - in order to start kindergarten that school year. Parents will still be able to get exceptions for younger children who are unusually mature.