Kindergarten Transitions

Minnesota Kindergarten Readiness (School Readiness) Definition

Minnesota supports the educational success of all young children as they become eligible to enroll into kindergarten.

Eligibility for Kindergarten in Minnesota

Children are encouraged to enter kindergarten in Minnesota when they are age-eligible; which is when they are 5 years old. According to Minnesota law, children are eligible for kindergarten entrance when they:
  • Are at least 5 years of age by September 1 of the child’s enrollment year into kindergarten (Minn. Stat. § 120A.20).
  • Have received early childhood screening, comparable health and developmental screening or the parent is a conscientious objector to the screening program for their child (Minn. Stat. §121A.17).
  • Have received medically acceptable immunizations (Minn. Stat. §121A.15).

Kindergarten entrance tests, other assessments, or the birthdates of children (i.e., children turning 5 years old in the summer months before kindergarten entry) should not be used to determine if children can enroll into kindergarten.

It is important to note that children are “not innately ‘ready’ or ‘not ready’ for school. Children’s skills and development are strongly influenced by their families and through their interactions with other people and environments,” early learning experiences, or participation in early learning programs or child care prior to enrolling into school. (1)

Goal: Every Child is Ready to Learn

How Minnesota defines kindergarten (school) readiness is no different than how many other states may define the term. The Head Start program says ”school [kindergarten] readiness occurs when children have the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success in primary school, later learning, and life.” (2) Minnesota’s kindergarten (school) readiness definition includes interconnected contributors that, when aligned, promote eligible children’s transition to kindergarten. Minnesota’s definition of kindergarten readiness is based on the support children must have in place to foster the development of their own unique characteristics, knowledge and skills that equip them for optimal school success. This includes the essential ingredients of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. Children need every one of these essential elements to help them prepare for a successful and seamless transition from the early learning years to kindergarten and beyond.

Minnesota’s commitment to equity is seen in our definition of kindergarten eligibility and kindergarten (school) readiness. We recognize children’s success in school is based on a multitude of factors. Kindergarten (school) readiness refers to not only ready children, but ready communities, families, and schools and early care and education (ECE) programs.  The essential elements to children’s success in school are:
  • Ready communities — provide services to enhance the health, safety, economic stability, development and learning of all children and their families.
  • Ready schools and early care and education programs — provide access to high-quality affordable child care, early education programs and schools that support the needs of all children when they enter kindergarten and in the areas of their development and learning.
  • Ready families — who know how to support their own children’s learning and have access to adequate resources.
  • Ready children — who bring their own unique characteristics, skills, experiences, and are filled with curiosity and an eagerness to learn.

How can the Kindergarten (School) Readiness Definition be used?

This definition may be used to help the interconnected contributors, including families, early learning programs, child care, schools, families, and others better understand kindergarten readiness. The kindergarten readiness definition importantly serves as the foundation for World’s Best Workforce planning related to school readiness goal (Goal #1) so that all children reach their optimum potential.