Kindergarten

Minnesota is committed to supporting the educational success of all young children as they are eligible to enroll into kindergarten.

Eligibility for Kindergarten in Minnesota

Children are strongly encouraged to enter kindergarten in Minnesota when they are age-eligible; which, is when they are five 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 year of entrance into kindergarten (Minnesota Statutes, section 120A.20);
  • Have received early childhood screening through their school district. Children may also meet this requirement by participating in a comparable health and developmental screening program provided by Head Start, Child and Teen Checkups or through a health care provider. If a parent is a conscientious objector to the screening program for their child, the child does not need to participate in the state screening program. (Minnesota Statutes, section 121A.17).
  • Have received medically acceptable immunizations (Minnesota Statutes, section 121A.15)
Kindergarten entrance tests, other assessments or the birthdates of children (i.e., children turning five 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.  (K. Maxwell and R. M. Clifford, Research in review: School readiness assessment. Young Children.)

Every Child is Ready to Learn in Kindergarten

Schools must be prepared to support the kindergarten entry of all children and their families who come from many different cultures, linguistic backgrounds as well as a wide-variety of early childhood education or child care. Children have varied experiences whether it be participation in school-based prekindergarten programs, Head Start, private or faith-based child care, family, friend and neighbor care, other settings, or from their homes in which parents or others provided care and learning experiences.

Kindergarten is a critical transitional year between early childhood and children’s formal education. Individual children arrive at kindergarten with various approaches to learning and have differing levels of knowledge and skills. It is important for schools and kindergarten teachers to build on the strengths children bring – their knowledge, skills, interests, cultural and linguistic background, and early learning experiences – to the kindergarten environment.

As five year olds, children are experiencing significant changes in their development. Kindergarten teachers have a critical role in creating effective and engaging environments that support how children learn best. Watch our latest kindergarten video where three educators discuss the shift in children’s development, ways teachers can create effective and engaging classrooms to support changes in children’s development and more!


Effective, Developmentally-appropriate Kindergarten is Essential to Minnesota’s Equity Goal

The kindergarten year is important. It marks a transition in children's development and learning experiences. Children experience rapid growth or changes in their cognitive, language, physical, social and emotional development over the kindergarten year. Schools support equity in the learning for all kindergarten students when learning is built on what children already know and are able do, and “takes into account individual differences in language, culture…” (NAEYC, Position Statement on School Readiness).

The Kindergarten Academic Standards provide the foundation of “what” children should know at the end of the kindergarten year; not the “how” kindergarten students receive instruction. The Kindergarten Academic Standards are aligned with Early Childhood Indicators of Progress: Minnesota’s Early Learning Standards to help ensure a seamless transition between early learning and child care programs and kindergarten. Standards are designed for supporting the learning and development of all children.

Full-Day Kindergarten is Available to All School Districts and Charter Schools

Full-day kindergarten provides a crucial opportunity for Minnesota’s younger learners to build upon their prekindergarten or other early learning experiences. Minnesota is committed to continuing in-depth, age-appropriate learning for all kindergarten students. Full-day kindergarten helps to sustain the earlier gains made in students’ development of their cognitive, social, emotional and physical skills. Funding is available to every school district and charter school to provide full-day kindergarten. Approximately 99 percent of Minnesota’s kindergarten students attend full-day kindergarten. View Minnesota Statutes, section 126C.05, Subdivision 1(d), on funding full-day kindergarten.

Requirements for Early Entrance into Kindergarten

  • Children who are not yet five years old on or before September 1 may be considered for early entrance into kindergarten. Minnesota Statutes, section 124D.02, allows for school boards to permit selected children early admission into kindergarten if there is an early admission policy established by the school board. View the Minnesota Statute on early kindergarten entrance.
  • Requires a school board that has adopted a policy to allow a child under the age of five to enroll in kindergarten to establish a comprehensive evaluation procedure to be used to help determine the child’s cognitive, social, and emotional development and the child's ability to meet kindergarten grade expectations and progress to first grade the following year.
  • The comprehensive evaluation for early entrance into kindergarten must:
    • Use valid and reliable instrumentation
    • Be aligned with state kindergarten expectations
    • Include a parent report and teacher observations of the child's knowledge, skills and abilities
  • Minnesota Statutes requires parents and the commissioner to have access to the school board’s early kindergarten admission policy. Charter schools must post the early entrance policy on their website. The early entrance policy is subject to a Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) audit.

Kindergarten Students and Gifted Education Programs

  • Children who enter kindergarten through early entrance may also be considered gifted and talented children through an assessment process.
  • Minnesota Statutes requires districts to adopt procedures for early admission to kindergarten or first grade for gifted and talented learning. View the Minnesota Statute for early admission for select students who are identified as gifted and talented.
  • Minnesota Statutes also requires board-adopted policies for early admission to kindergarten to be based on a comprehensive evaluation to determine the child’s ability to meet kindergarten expectations and progress to first grade the following year.
Watch our latest two-minute video guide to effective kindergarten assessment: "What is an administrator’s role in kindergarten assessment?"

  • Kindergarten Enrollment and Early Entrance FAQ Jan 2014 - 7/10/14
    Responses to frequently asked questions about Minnesota kindergarten entry requirements (January 2014).
  •  - 2/26/14
    Responses to Frequently Asked Questions about full-day kindergarten in Minnesota districts (January 2014)
  • Child Nutrition Program Decision Grid for Early Learning Programs in Schools  - 1/31/14
    This matrix provides an overview of the potential availability of child nutrition programs for children participating in school-based early learning programs.
  •  - 1/13/14
    This document provides a brief overview for parents of the school nutrition programs available for full-day kindergarten students.
  •  - 1/13/14
    Brief overview of school nutrition programs for full-day kindergarten students for school food service staff.
  •  - 1/13/14
    A brief overview for school administrators regarding considerations for the implementation of school nutrition programs for full-day kindergarten students.
  • Kindergarten Schedule Enrollment  - 12/20/13
    This Excel file provides information about the type of kindergarten programs (e.g., half-day, full-day kindergarten) provided by schools throughout Minnesota in the 2012-2013 school year. Links to the school district's and charter school's are included in the document for further information about kindergarten possible kindergarten program offerings in the 2014-2015 school year.
  • Early Entrance into Kindergarten Comprehensive Evaluation Guidance  - 12/16/13
    This document provides criteria guidance for school district staff in the selection of assessment instruments to use for assisting in early entrance into kindergarten for select students. A brief listing of assessment instruments is provided.