Pre-Kindergarten & Kindergarten (age 4-6)
In the UK, children are eligible to begin state school (reception year) in September of the year in which they turn five.
In comparison, the age at which a child can begin public (state-funded) school in the US varies by state, and is between five and eight.
Kindergarten is the first year of formal education in the US. In order to attend Kindergarten, your child must turn five by a date set by the state (see table below for further details).
If your child is not five by this date, but would be starting school in UK (i.e. they are four at the time of the Kindergarten cut off date and will be turning five during the school year), they will attend Pre-Kindergarten.
In the USA, Pre-Kindergarten is a classroom-based, pre-school program. It is equivalent to the reception year in English schools and is for children aged 4-5. It is not mandatory for American children.
It is unlikely that your child will be able to attend a public (state-funded) program, as only a small number of disadvantaged children are eligible for these. However, you should check to see if there are any programs that will accept your child in your area.
If there aren’t, your child can attend a private Pre-Kindergarten program and the MOD will fund 100% of the tuition fees.
It is worth researching the options available to you within your area on the internet and visiting potential facilities in person. Your child can attend a partial or full day program, depending on your preference.
Along with the tuition fees, you can claim for other costs such as registration/application fees, technology fees, activity fees and book fees. Other expenses, including uniforms, lunches and snacks, field trips and year books are not claimable and will be personal expenses; therefore these should be taken into consideration when choosing a program.
Please see Private School Claims for a list of admissible and non-admissible fees and for guidance on how to make a claim.
In the USA, Kindergarten is the first year of formal education. It is one school year, and is part of the ‘K-12’ educational system (Kindergarten through to twelfth grade). It is equivalent to Year 1 in an English primary school, and is for children aged 5-6.
Regulations regarding Kindergarten entrance age vary throughout the US, as each state determines its own rules. Kindergarten entrance ages by state are shown in the table below. You will need to use the table to determine whether your child is eligible for Kindergarten in the state in which you live.
State policies also vary in terms of mandating attendance, as well as public (state-funded) provision of Kindergarten programs. Some areas offer full day programs; others offer half day programs, whilst some don’t offer any programs at all.
- If your child is eligible to attend Kindergarten and you will be living in an area where full day, public (state-funded) Kindergarten is available, you must ensure, when searching for a house, that you locate a property that is in a catchment area for a school that provides full day Kindergarten.
- If you are being posted to the Washington DC area and your accommodation is being allocated by the BEET, you should make this requirement known to the team before they begin searching for a property for you.
- If you are unsure as to whether full day programs are available in the area, you should contact the administrative office of the local school district(s) where you are looking for housing.
- If full day Kindergarten is not available at any of the schools in the area (and this has been confirmed by the Healthcare and Education Department), you can enrol your child in a full day, private program. The MOD will fund 100% of the tuition fees. Your child must be enrolled in a full day program in order for you to be able to claim for the fees. Fees for half day programs will not be funded.
- If full day, public (state-funded) Kindergarten is available in your area, but you wish to enrol your child in a private school, or you choose to live outside of the catchment areas of any public (state-funded) schools offering full day programs, you will be personally responsible for paying 1/3rd of the tuition fees and any other claimable expenses. The MOD will fund the remaining 2/3rds. Your child must be enrolled in a full day program in order for you to be able to claim for 2/3rds of the fees. Fees for half day programs will not be funded.
Please note that if your child has previously been enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten, funded at 100% by the MOD, you are not entitled to continue claiming at this rate if there is a full day, public (state-funded) Kindergarten program in your area.
Kindergarten entrance age dates by state
|State||Kindergarten entrance age (as at March 2014)|
|Alabama||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Alaska||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Arizona||Age 5 before 1 September|
|Arkansas||Age 5 on or before 1 August|
Age 5 on or before 1 September
|Colorado||Age 5 on or before 1 October|
|Connecticut||Age 5 on or before 1 January|
|Delaware||Age 5 on or before 31 August|
|District of Columbia||Age 5 on or before 30 September|
|Florida||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Georgia||Age 5 by 1 September|
Age 5 on or before 31 July
|Idaho||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Illinois||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Indiana||Age 5 on 1 August|
|Iowa||Age 5 on or before 15 September|
|Kansas||Age 5 on or before 31 August|
Age 5 by 1 October (current)
Age 5 by 1 August (eff. 2017-18)
Age 5 on or before 30 September
|Maine||Age 5 on or before 15 October|
|Maryland||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Massachusetts||Each school committee establishes it’s own minimum permissible age|
Age 5 by 1 October (2014-15)
Age 5 by 1 September (eff. 2015-16)
|Minnesota||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Mississippi||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Missouri||Age 5 by 1 August|
|Montana||Age 5 on or before 10 September|
|Nebraska||Age 5 on or before 31 July|
|Nevada||Age 5 on or before 30 September|
|New Hampshire||Local Education Agency decision|
|New Jersey||Local Education Agency decision|
|New Mexico||Age 5 by 1 September|
|New York||Local Education Agency decision|
|North Carolina||Age 5 on or before 31 August|
|North Dakota||Age 5 by 1 August|
|Ohio||Local Education Agency decision|
|Oklahoma||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Oregon||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Pennsylvania||Local Education Agency decision|
|Rhode Island||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|South Carolina||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|South Dakota||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
Age 5 on or before 15 August
|Texas||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Utah||Age 5 before 2 September|
|Vermont||Local Education Agency decision|
|Virginia||Age 5 on or before 30 September|
|Washington||Age 5 by 31 August|
|West Virginia||Age 5 by 1 September|
|Wisconsin||Age 5 on or before 1 September|
|Wyoming||Age 5 on or before 15 September|