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My Child is Turning Five. When Can She Start Kindergarten in the US?

Well, that all depends on where you are moving and the month your child turns five. In the greater New York City area, including Westchester County, Connecticut, NYC, and Northern NJ, there are at least four different cutoff dates for students entering kindergarten.

The state of Connecticut just changed the cutoff date from January 1st to September 1st.

Here are the various cutoff dates:

New York State: December 1st for public schools, September 1st for most independent schools

Connecticut: September 1st (previously January 1st) for public schools, September 1st for most independent schools

New Jersey: October 1st, October 15th, or October 31st, depending on the district; September 1st for most independent schools.

This can be very confusing and potentially costly for families. If you have a student turning five in October and you are moving from NYC to Connecticut, your child will have to attend an additional year of preschool in Connecticut.

If you stay in NYC, they can start kindergarten in the year they turn five. While an extra year of preschool can be invaluable for many young learners, it also means an additional year of paying tuition for school—if a family is planning to have their children attend public school.

If a family is considering applying to independent schools and public schools with a four year-old turning five, they may have to investigate both prekindergarten and kindergarten programs, depending on where they are looking and the birthdate of their child. Many ongoing schools (schools that continue with grade levels beyond kindergarten) do not start until kindergarten. So, a relocating family may opt to place their child in a preschool program for one year and then apply to kindergarten at an ongoing school the following year.

Most schools strictly enforce the kindergarten cutoff date, regardless of a child’s previous education experience. However, for every other grade, most schools will consider placing a younger child in a particular grade if they have completed the previous one.

As we have discussed in many other Bennett blogs, there are multiple components to a relocation with school-aged children. And your child’s month and year of birth—when they are turning five—are key pieces to their placement in a new school.

By Erin Brady

Erin Brady wears several hats at Bennett as Co-Director of Private Client Services and as one of our Global Team Leads (GTLs). As a GTL, she supports a consultant team that works with families headed to the greater NYC area, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Canada, overseeing their casework and providing updates to our corporate and RMC clients. She also serves as Account Manager of one of Bennett’s largest financial services clients in New York.

Over the years, Bennett International Education Consultancy has worked with hundreds of corporations across the globe, many of them Fortune 500 companies, providing domestic and international school advisement & placement services - preschool through university - to the dependents of relocating employees. In addition to education placement, our team provides customized consulting for corporations with a range of education issues: education policy writing & benchmarking, tuition studies, group move advisement & planning, and remote education solutions.


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