Starting Kindergarten in Nebraska: What you need to know

early childhood education nebraska, bryan community high school

Payton showing Maddie how to finger paint, while one of the center’s para-educator supports the interaction

All children who turn 5 on or before July 31 are eligible to start public kindergarten in the state of Nebraska. No matter what their abilities, academic skills or background, Nebraska schools will be ready to meet their needs.

Even if a child doesn’t begin school the year they turn 5, Nebraska state law requires that they begin school the year they turn 6 before December 31.

Enrollment checklist:

  • Find your child’s original birth certificate. If a new certificate needs to be ordered, you may
    order one through the Vital Records Department at Health and Human Services.
  • Contact the school your child will be attending and ask how and when to enroll.
  • Request information about school expectations, rules and classroom daily routines.
  • Make a note of your school’s unique start and dismissal times, and consider your transportation and child care needs.
  • If you need after-school care for your child, ask your school if they have an option available.

BORN BETWEEN AUGUST 1 AND OCTOBER 15
What if your child doesn’t quite make the July 31 cutoff? For families who feel that they’re children are developmentally ready, there may be a way to enroll their children in public kindergarten early.

All Nebraska schools will conduct an early entry assessment of your child to determine their readiness to join kindergarten prior to turning 5. Contact your school as early as possible to discuss the procedure for early entry assessment. Many schools conduct assessments only once, in the Spring, so if you miss it, you’ll have to wait until next year anyway.

WHAT ABOUT HOLDING A CHILD BACK?
Let’s say your child has turned 5 years old before July 31. But you don’t feel that they’re truly “ready” to start kindergarten. If you wish, you may keep your child out of kindergarten to give him another year to mature.

This practice, sometimes called “redshirting,” has in the past been used to give kids an added physical or academic advantage among their kindergarten peers. The research, however, doesn’t show any lasting academic advantage.

While children who are redshirted may start school a bit ahead of the game, by third grade, they’re usually on par with their peers. In fact, many kids who are redshirted may even regress during kindergarten because they’re not being challenged enough to meet their developmental needs.

Whether or not to redshirt your child is a personal choice, but should be considered carefully.
Kindergarten has changed a lot since you were a child. If you have concerns abut the expectations of your child, talk to the school and get more information. Things to consider if you decide to hold your child back a year:

  • What skills are you going to work with him on in the meantime?
  • What resources or programs will be available to him?
  • How much has your child developed in the last 6 months? it may be hard to imagine how much he may develop between enrollment and when school starts. He may be more ready by then.
  • Remember, you can register for school in the spring and opt not to have your child start in the fall if you feel she’s not developmentally ready.

Want to know more about Kindergarten readiness in Nebraska? Download the eBook.

KindergartenCover

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state's most vulnerable kids what they need to reach their full potential. We do this by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults.

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Posted in Early Childhood

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