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Early Childhood: Kindergarten (5K)




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Promoting Early Childhood (PEC) 2021-Virtual Conference

April 14 & 15, 2021

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Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten

Many parents ask how they can best get their child ready for kindergarten. The state law says that children are eligible for kindergarten based on their age and not on their skills. Good kindergarten curriculums are able to address the wide range of development levels that are natural in any kindergarten program. In today's society parents feel pressure to "prepare" their child for school. Sometimes this pressure leads to unrealistic expectations that are heavily focused on learning specific academic skills rather than the a more appropriate focus of play, adult child interactions, and learning opportunities that promote basic child development.

There are several good resources to help parents build a strong foundation for school.

Five-year-old Kindergarten Attendance and First Grade Admission

2009 WI Act 41 [Wis. Stat. Sec. 118.14(1)(am)] took effect on October 21, 2009. It requires a child who is enrolled in 5-year-old kindergarten in a public or private school to regularly attend kindergarten during the school year. Beginning in the 2011-12 school year, with certain exceptions, this new law also requires a child to complete 5-year-old kindergarten as a prerequisite to being admitted to first grade in a public school. For more information on this law go to our Kindergarten: Entrance and Admission page.

Kindergarten in Wisconsin Schools

All Wisconsin school districts offer kindergarten programs for 5-year-old children. These programs will vary from district to district with most being full day programs, some being part day, and many districts having the option of both. In the last few years, more districts have begun to offer kindergarten programs to 4-year-old children. Currently a large majority of Wisconsin school districts offer 4-year-old kindergarten to all children in their district.

Click here for a brief history of kindergarten in Wisconsin.

  • Early Childhood: Five-Year-Old Kindergarten: Watertown, Wisconsin is proud to be the home to the first kindergarten in this county. In 1856, Margarethe Meyer Schurz started this German speaking program for children 2 through 5 years of age. In 1873 the first public school kindergarten open in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. It provided a program for the city's 4- and 5-year old children. More and more school districts began providing kindergarten and then in 1973 the Wisconsin legislature required school districts to provide 5 year old kindergarten. In the late 1990's kindergartens began to expand to offer full day programs.
  • Guiding Principles: Additional information on early childhood programming can be accessed on non-grade and mixed age grouping, early learning centers, developmentally appropriate and other curriculum topics.
For questions about this information, contact Sherry Kimball (608) 267-9625