Why did the state of Hawaii change the age requirement for kindergarten enrollment?
The change is a result of Act 183 (2010) and Act 178 (2012). While age is not the sole determinant of academic success, research suggests that older students tend to do better than those who are younger. Since the 2014-15 school year, children must be five years of age on or before July 31 of the school year to enter kindergarten. (The previous cutoff date was December 31).
Is kindergarten mandatory in Hawaii?
Yes, Act Act 76 of 2014 made kindergarten attendance mandatory, beginning with the 2014-15 school year.
Any child who is five years of age as of July 31, 2016 must enroll in kindergarten.
My child was not five years of age on July 31, 2015, but attended kindergarten at an accredited private school or accredited kindergarten program. Can I enroll my child in first grade in the 2016-17 school year?
The principal will make the final decision on grade placement based on a review of the student's transcript, report card or other school documents.
My child did not meet the July 31, 2015, cutoff date for kindergarten. I homeschooled my child using a "certified" homeschool curriculum. May I enroll my child in first grade for 2016-17?
An annual progress report, showing satisfactory progress in all content areas, shall be submitted at the end of each school year. A principal at the school of record may request to view the curriculum if the annual report is not sufficient to show satisfactory progress. The final decision will be made by the principal.
Does the law provide any exceptions to children born only a few days after the kindergarten enrollment cutoff date (i.e. born Aug. 1, 2011)?
No, children must turn five years of age on or before July 31 of the year they are entering kindergarten at any public or charter school.
On Jan. 1, 2017, my child will be five years of age. Can he/she enter kindergarten at that time?
No, all public schools follow the law. A child must be five years of age by July 31 of that school year to enter kindergarten at any public or charter school.
After Jan. 1, 2017, my child will turn five years of age. Can he/she attend kindergarten for the 2016-17 school year? The law says before August 1, but doesn't specify the year.
No, the child must be five years of age by July 31, 2016 for entry into the 2016-17 school year at any public or charter school.
My child turns five years of age after January 1, 2017. We are homeless. Is my child immediately enrolled in kindergarten for the remainder of the 2016-17 school year under McKinney-Vento?
No, all public schools will follow the law. A child must be five years of age by July 31 of that school year to enter kindergarten at any public or charter school.
My child, who turns five years of age after July 31, 2016, has gone to preschool for several years and is ready for kindergarten. Can the school administer an entrance exam to enroll him/her?
No, the child must be five years of age by July 31 of the school year to enter kindergarten at any public or charter school.
My child is not five years of age by July 31, 2016. He/she is gifted and doesn’t need kindergarten. Can I enroll my child in first grade for the 2016-17 school year, bypassing kindergarten?
No, children who are five years of age upon enrollment into a public or charter school must be enrolled in kindergarten.
What are the educational options for parents of children who will turn five years of age after July 31, 2016?
Please connect with our
Early Learning page.
Does the Hawaii State Department of Education provide any subsidies for parents whose children will miss the kindergarten cutoff date so they may enroll them in other preschool or kindergarten programs?
The state offers subsidies for families meeting certain eligibility criteria under the Preschool Open Doors program. Please visit the
Department of Human Services for information.
Does the Hawaii State Department of Education offer preschool?
Since the 2014-15 school year, a select list of public elementary schools have offered a prekindergarten program. The
Executive Office on Early Learning has developed this program, in collaboration with the Hawaii State Department of Education.
I’m in the military and my child was already enrolled and attending kindergarten out of state. Can my child enroll in kindergarten if he/she doesn’t meet the age requirement in Hawaii?
These are the conditions that must be met for entry. The Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission (MIC3) rule is:
Kindergarten and First grade entrance age – Students shall be allowed to continue their enrollment at grade level in the receiving state commensurate with their grade level (including Kindergarten) from a LEA in the sending state at the time of transition, regardless of age. In the case of a Kindergarten student, the student must have been enrolled and attended class in the sending state in order to assure continued attendance in Kindergarten in the receiving state. A student that has satisfactorily completed the prerequisite grade level in the local education agency in the sending state shall be eligible for enrollment in the next highest grade level in the receiving state, regardless of age. A student transferring after the start of the school year in the receiving state shall enter the school in the receiving state on their validated level from an accredited school in the sending state.
- Any student who transfers from an out-of-state public school and who does not meet regular age requirements for admission to the school of the state being transferred into shall be admitted upon presentation of the data required in subsection (3).
- Any student who transfers from an out-of-state nonpublic school and who does not meet regular age requirements for admission to a public school in the state being transferred, shall be admitted if the student meets age requirements for public schools within the state from which he or she is transferring, and if the transfer of the student’s academic credit is acceptable under rules of the school board. Prior to admission, the parent or guardian must also provide the data required in subsection (3).
- In order to be admitted into a school of the state being transferred, such a student transferring from an out-of-state school must provide the following data:
- Official documentation that the parent(s) or guardian(s) were resident(s) of the state in which the child was previously enrolled in school;
- An official letter or transcript from the proper school authority which shows record of attendance, academic information, and grade placement of the student;
- Documented evidence of immunization against communicable diseases; and
- Evidence of date of birth.