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At what age should children begin elementary school?

Enrolling Your Child In Elementary School

Tiffani Chin (Founder/Executive Director, EdBoost Learning Center) gives expert video advice on: How do I enroll my child in public school? and more...

At what age should children begin elementary school?

Most kids begins kindergarten at five. That's pretty standard. Some kids are going to begin a little bit later. Other kids begin a little earlier. Most schools and districts have birthday cut offs. You know, if your child will turn five by December twelfth, then you can enroll in kindergarten even though they're four. Whether or not you should enroll your child at four, depends a lot on your child. If your child has been in pre-school, it's a great thing to talk to the pre-school teacher and say, "do you think he's ready or should we hold him back or wait for a year?". It's not a matter of holding them back. It's a matter of trying to put them in kindergarten when they're ready to go to kindergarten, when they're ready to sit down, when they're ready to work with a group, when they're ready to learn things. If you have a child who is just totally focused on playing, who you have a hard time getting to sit down and kind of color, or play a game with you or do little table activities, that might be a good candidate to just do another year of pre-k to get him used to the school environment and start him over next year when he's five going on six.

What does "attendance area" and "assigned school" mean?

Every school is embedded within a little geographical area. Which means if you're in that area, you are assigned to that school, unless you have a permit.

What is a school district "work permit"?

So, there are various ways to attend schools that are not your assigned school. Some districts have work permits, so you can say, "Oh, well, I work in this area, so, can my child attend school in this area?" And some districts consider them, some school districts consider them and some don't. Parents go through, they jump through all kinds of hoops to attend schools that they want to attend. It really kind of, if you want to change schools, there are really two kind of two tacks that you want to follow. One is go to the school you would like to attend and say, "Hey, is there any way that I can get my child in here?" Sometimes, it's "I work really close by," sometimes, it's "My chlid's babysitter since birth lives right around the corner, can we get in?" Sometimes, and if a school likes you, if a school has space and they like you and they like your child, they might give you some insight into how you might get into the school. Sometimes a school would rather not have a family; they don't like them for whatever reason. And, in those cases, sometimes it's better to go to the district office and see what the official district policies are on work permits or child care permits or transferring schools, open enrollment, that sort of thing.

Should I relocate so my child can attend a better elementary school?

Where you live largely determines where your child is going to go to school. At least in urban areas, one of the main things that raises up housing prices is the quality of the schools in that attendance area. So parents are constantly making the decision: should I move and get my kid into a better school, or should I stay where I am and accept this school as it is? I would argue that we want the best school and the best teacher that we can have for our kids, and possibly more important than that, we want the best peer group that we can have for our kids. If you choose a neighborhood where you get a cuter house or a bigger house, but a worse school, you're making a decision that may not be best for your child. But you're also making the same decision that every other parent at that school has made. And so you may be putting your child into a peer group where the kids may not be doing homework, or the parents may not be enforcing discipline at school. So you may be putting your child into a culture that's less learning-focused and education-focused than you might want. Now, are there ways to attend schools that are not your attendance area school? Sure there are. But it's also a more stressful life. You have to always be on the ball to make sure that your child can stay in your work permit school, or your childcare permit school, or the magnet school that you've put him into. So if you want a less stressful educational process for your child, I would say the easiest bet to do that is to move into a neighborhood with a good school.