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Connecticut educators prepare for change in kindergarten age requirements

Beginning in 2024, children will need to be turning 5 years old by Sept. 1 in order to begin kindergarten -- a requirement teachers say will hopefully help children.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A new law passed in Connecticut this year changes the age of children allowed to begin kindergarten. Starting in 2024, all students will need to be five years old by Sept. 1 in order to join the fall semester. Currently, students need to turn 5 years old by Jan. 1.

Connecticut is the last state in the nation to implement a law like this. President of the Connecticut Education Association Kate Dias tells us that having students all the same age will even the playing field for what is now a rigorous curriculum.

“We’ve created a situation where we have really high expectations of 4-year-olds,” Dias said. “That creates stress. If the students can’t perform those skills, they feel overwhelmed instead of a joyful baseline of the experience.”

Lisa Cordova teaches kindergarten in Glastonbury. Her twenty-something students starting next week will range from 4 to almost 6 years old.

“It used to be a different world, but now it’s more rigorous. The students need a lot of stamina and [are] made to do more things you would expect from an older child,” Cordova said.

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These teachers said starting kindergarten too early has a domino effect on the rest of their educational careers.

“You have a lot of schooling you have to go through high school," Cordova said. "You’re stressed in kindergarten – you don’t get that back moving forward,” Cordova said.

And on the extreme side, 5th-grade teacher Jocelyn DeLancey said they’d seen the worst impacts of a student not getting the extra time they need.

“We are seeing kids with behavioral issues in high school," DeLancey explained. "Kids die by suicide in high school, and it’s tragic to see sometimes we can track that back to their earliest education experiences."

Education leaders say they are hearing one strong pushback on the law. That is the issue of childcare for an extra year.

“People are wondering how we balance with childcare needs, and this is stress for families, but we don’t solve childcare issues with education. We solve childcare with childcare,” Dias said.

The teachers say they are relieved the law passed for the children’s sake and know it will benefit every child for the rest of their lives.

There is one exception to the law, children younger than five can be granted enrollment by educators if they feel the child is developmentally ready, but only on a case-by-case basis.

Brooke Griffin is a reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at bgriffin@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookX, and Instagram.

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