35 answers

What Age Do You Send Your Child to School?

This question is for my friend whose daughter is 5. she was told today by people we both work with that her daughter can be taken if she doesn't send her to school at the age. 5

What can I do next?

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Schools have a cut off date for when the childs birthday falls. That would be something to look into. Also part time or full time Kinder. That can also play a big part. But about the child being taken? I never have heard such a thing and my oldest are 10

J., in the state of PA a child does not legally have to attend school until the age of 8. Now a days people look down on that because children are going to school early because both parents work. I am a kindergarten teacher and would recomend she send her daughter to kindergarten because children learn to read, write, count to 100, add and subtract before going to first grade. But legally kinderfgarten is not mandatory.


Is there a reason that she does not want to send her? Yes, they start at 5. (The child needs to be five by the beginning of sept to start kindergarten.) If i were her i would register her daughter immediatly.

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I am assuming your friend lives in PA. This info is taken directly from the PA Dept of Ed website.

Compulsory School Age:

Compulsory school age refers to the period of a child's life from the time the child enters school as a beginner which may be no later than eight years of age until the age of 17 or graduation from a high school, which ever occurs first.

This page has info on compulsory attendance and truancy.

If you scroll down to part V. Proceedings and Penalties for Violation of Compulsory Attendance Requirements you will find more specific information about how school districts are to handle violations of the above law.

Hope this helps.


As one of those mom who has decided to "hold her child back like that" I have to say those are harsh words, Dee. I normally don't get worked up about what others say on here, but you hit a nerve. You have no idea why that woman wants to hold her child back. I, for one, am not sending my 5 year old to kindergarten this year and I certainly do not need counseling because of it. Though my reasons are nobody's business I will share them. First, I feel that he is timid and unsure of himself when compared to his peers. I don't think he is emotionally ready for kindergarten - it's a lot more involved than it was 35 years ago when I was in kindergarten. Second, his medical issues may cause him to miss a lot of school. I think you can see where that might cause some difficulties for him. I don't want the beginning of his formal education to be marked by insecurities and days upon days of missed classes. By this time next year, I expect he will be more emotionally mature, have more confidence in his abilities, and be healthy enough to attend school on a regular basis. His preschool teacher had the same concerns I did and she actually initiated the conversation with me. I assure you we put many hours into weighing the pros and cons of the situation and came to the "healthy" decision of waiting one more year before sending our son to kindergarten. So as you can see there ARE reasons to hold a child back one year and there are plenty of teachers like my son's preschool teacher who feel that sometimes that is the right decision. Please don't be so harsh when you don't have all the details.

2 moms found this helpful

Dear J.,
Tell your friend not to worry in the least! What baloney! Why are they fear mongering your friend?

In PA, Kindergarten is optional, and most schools would not start a first grader below the age of 6, in fact most require that the child be 6 before entering first grade AND on top of that in PA you can "opt out" of traditional school and "home-school" your child.

For your friend to get accurate information, I suggesst she check the PA government website or call her local school district or speak with her local representative. I am still befuddled as to why her colleagues would use such a scare tactic with your friend. Doesn't sound like a very kind work environment to me.

ann m.

1 mom found this helpful

That depends on what state they live in. In some states Kindergarten is mandatory and some it is not. Also, most states have a "cut-off" for when the child actually turns 5 as to when they can start school. If the state finds out that a child is not registered in a school and according to state laws should be, they will open a case to research the accusation. Good Luck.

legally they dont have to start school until i believe 7 or 8, most people now are sending their kids to kindergarten by 6, my son was 5 1/2 and i had considered holding him back until this year, but he adjusted really well and i am glad that i went through with sending him. he is one of the youngest in his class though, most of his classmates are turning 7 this year, where he wont turn 7 until the end of april

Lisa T has gotten you specific state information--go with that!

Check with the school district. If her child is not ready for kindergarten, she can wait, and send her at age 6. I did that with my 2nd child, and sometimes wish I had with child #4. Sometimes that extra year of maturity is a plus, especially if she the child is an August birthday, which would make her the youngest in the class.

If Mom truly doesn't want to send her child to school, there are a host of cyber school programs that they can do at home, and they require the work -- daily, just like school, and if you are going to take a trip you have to notify them for permission and an excused absence, just like "real school". Also, as long as you have DSL, the cyber schools will generally cover the cost of the PC and the internet for the child to use. It's a good deal.

There are a lot of arguments from both sides (advocates of earlier or later admission). No one should forget, that parental care, especially in early years of young human, is something that could not be overestimated. It is not only the matter of education, but also emotional development of child.


I agree with Denise, go with Lisa's advice. Also, you friend might want to consider if her daughter is ready for school. My son was academically ready, but not socially ready. My daughter was socially ready, but not academically, both had turned 5 in July.
I was never ready to send them.

In Pa the age they have to go to school in is 8. Unless of course the homeschool.

In PA the compulsory school age is 8 unless you live in Philly where I believe it has been lowered. A parent as far as I know can hold the child back and have them wait a year if they are too young or emotionally immature. You won't have your child taken away. If she is interested in homeschooling you will have to file an affadavit the year the child turns 8. Where it get's sticky is if they have a birthday close to the beginning of the school year. If she is homeschooling you would have to figure out whether or not you have to file if the birthday is 2 wks after the first day of school or not

I thought they had to start at kindergarten but not sure. I think it's good to start them asap for social skills, rules ect...

I think in PA, the "age of beginners" is 6 but it looks like you have a direct link to check out with the official info. It definitely is NOT 5 and she doesn't have to send her daughter this year.

My boys schools had a cutoff where they had to be 5 by October 1st. They missed it by 1-2 weeks so they were almost 6 when they started Kindergarten. She should check with her school district as to what the age cutoff is. If her daughter's birthday falls before the date she should be in school.

Your friend needs to call the school district she lives in first of all to find the rules of the district and state.

A child does not legally have to attend kindergarten, as far as I know. 1st grade and above yes, unless they're home schooled but they have to go through the school district so they're aware and each district will handle it in their own way.

Each school district has a different age cut off date for each grade level, which is mainly used to start kindergarten. They don't want children too young. For us it's October 1. My triplets will not be 5 until October 7. So we opted not to test them to get them in and will wait until next year. This way they will graduate at 18 rather than 17.

5 year olds usually start kindergarten. 6 years old 1st grade, and so on. But the district will have their own age cut off date. Call and they will fill her in on everything she will need to know legally. They will not take a child away right off the bat. They will inform the parent if there is a legal obligation to attend school at their age, if they find out. They could be fined. Each district or state will handle it different.

Just make a call.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

chat and events within 2 hour radius

I don't understand why your friend wouldn't want her daughter to go to school? How is her daughter going to feel when she realizes she is the oldest child in the class? When she eventualy goes to highschool she'll be the an adult when she graduates. No offense but, your friend needs some sort of councelling. Why would you want to hold your child back like that? It's not healthy.

We didn't send our son to kindergarten until he was 6. He was born in July and we felt he wasn't ready for school when he was 5...we were right. Kindergarten isn't even mandatory in the state of PA, however 1st grade is a must or the state can take your child. Your friend doesn't need to send her daughter to school. She can homeschool, charter or enroll her in cyber school, but she does need to begin receiving her education in the next year or so.

This is not true. The state of PA says kids need to attend school @ 7 years old. Kindergarten isn't even required, but I would highly reccomend it.

The people you work with are misinformed. You need to have your child in school by age 7 unless you plan to home school, then of course you wouldn't be sending them to school. There are plenty of times people hold back their child from entering school at 5 because they are not socially, emotionally, or academically ready. You may want to check with your school district just to make sure, but I was a elementary teacher before having my children.

Yes, most people typically send their child to school at the age of 5 when they are able to be enrolled in kindergarten, but it is not a requirement. I believe state law is that the child needs to start school by the age of 8. If you decide to home school, they need to be notified of that. I'm not sure that the state would take a child away if they aren't enrolled in school, but I wouldn't wait until after age 8 to find out! So, if your friend doesn't think her 5 year old is ready for school yet, not a problem, she can enroll her next year.

Is there a reason that she does not want to send her? Yes, they start at 5. (The child needs to be five by the beginning of sept to start kindergarten.) If i were her i would register her daughter immediatly.

These people are either misinformed or lying. Children in PA don't have to start school until age 8. Most parents don't wait that long though. If her child is not ready for school, then she makes that decision, not anyone else.

Check out the links another person posted to the Pa Dept. of Ed for accurate information.

That is not true. Some children have late birthdays and are not quite ready. She can postpone a year. As a teacher I can assure you ppl do it all the time. One of my girlfriends is doing it this year with her twins. Not to worry, wait until they're6.

CAUTION: LOTS OF WRONG INFO in some of the answers below, if she lives in PA. The bottom line is she will NOT lose her child for not sending to school at 5 -- but please refer to Lisa T and Vicki F's answers (3rd and 4th from the bottom) - they are absolutely correct. I have not read all of the responses completely so there might be other right info mixed in, but there is a ton of wrong info down there and I am positive those two are accurate as far as what is legal. As far as when a child "should" start (maturity, emotionally, etc) - those are different issues that a parent needs to decide, maybe with some outside help if they are not sure.

Children are not required to attend school until they are the age for 1st grade (6-7). Many parents delay putting their 5 year olds in kindergarten, especially if they turned 5 recently. There are lots of programs that help prepare children for entering kindergarten and I do recommend this. St David's on McMurray Rd in Venetia has space : )

Her daughter should be eligible for kindergarten in the school district where she resides, depending on her birthdate. Schools have a cutoff of when the child is/will be age 5 so some children need to wait until the next school year. A quick call to your local elementary school or school administrative office should clear this up. However, if she is already 5 she should probably be enrolling for this school year. If she feels that her daughter isn't quite ready for kindergarten, she can go to pre-school an extra year. Many pre-schools have Jr. Kindergarten for those students who don't make the kindergarten cutoff or are not emotionally ready for kindergarten. I know my son was not emotionally ready to move to his grade school from pre-school when he was 5. He had been in pre-school for a couple years and was great socially and knew everything for kindergarten. He just wasn't ready.

It depends on 2 main things: her birthdate and the cutoff for the district you live in. For example, if the cutoff for the district is September 1, and she turned 5 August 1, she could go or wait until the next year. If she turned 5 in the spring or earlier, she should be going to school unless there are medical reasons not to, such as serious illness or developmental delays.
No one will have their child "taken" if they don't start school right at age 5, but PA is a compulsary state, so she'll need to go sooner rather than later.
I would tell your friend to contact the district she lives in, they can tell her if she needs to get her enrolled now or if she should wait until next fall to start her.


Is there a reason the mom has opted out of sending the child to school?

Just want to know. D.

I don't think that children are required to start schooling of some kind, whether it be homeschooling or in a public or private school, until the equivalent of 1st grade. So my guess would be at about age 7. Not all children start school at age 5. If a child is 5 years old, but not socially ready for school, the school my recommend that the child wait another year. But, I have never heard of a child being taken away from a parent for not starting school by the time they turn 5.

Schools have a cut off date for when the childs birthday falls. That would be something to look into. Also part time or full time Kinder. That can also play a big part. But about the child being taken? I never have heard such a thing and my oldest are 10

Hi J.,
You can check with the Dept of Education - online

Retired teacher here - my understanding is a child is not required to enter school until they are 7 years old.
Kindergarten is not required - and if she wants to wait until her child is 6 to go to kindergarten - that is up to her. Consider if in September she will be a young 5 or an older 5. I held both of my children out until they were almost 6 as they had fall birthdays.

Once a child is registered for school - say kindergarten - a parent may not hold them out of school. There have been lawsuits over that.

Most districts have a screening process - that gives them a heads up to level of development. If you know a teacher - pre-school or kindergarten who will meet with you and your child and do some basic evaluations try that route. They can give you an idea of if your child would be fine or should have another year to mature.

Kindergarten is not coloring and play - those days are gone.
There is a serious curriculum for kindergarten.

The State or County CANNOT take your child away because you do not put them in school at age 5 or 6. Check it out and then give the facts to the scare monger.

Every mother need someone like that in their life! NOT!

BULL! Thee are plenty of people who homeschool and by the way a child does not have to attend school in Pa until 8 years old.

"They" don't take kids for any old reason. "They" only step in if there is a real and serious danger to the child. People who call on people who don't send their kids to school just clog up the system investigating good parents who don't necessarily deserve it.

Dear J.,

Sending a child to school or not is a personal decision. A responsible parent makes that decision based on personal preference that has to do with socialization, indoctrination, disease control (germs get passed around in school), and the degree of ablity/desire on part of the parent to be involved in the education of that child.
Many parents chose to home school. If you have a Masters degree in teaching chances are there will be nothing that you have to document further. If you don't, you will probably have to be accountable, ie. document what you do each day to the school board. Your friend can check with the Board of Education in her township. Many school systems do not have compulsory attendance until the age of eight unless there is an alternative plan which is approved by the board. Home schooling is a wonderful and worthwhile option.
I am shocked that your friend is fearful of her child being taken away. Is there conflict between her and the child's father? A high degree of negligence would have to be suspected in order for Children's services to interfeare, unless someone is meliciously trying to mess with her. I really hope that is not the case.
Good luck to your friend.

J., in the state of PA a child does not legally have to attend school until the age of 8. Now a days people look down on that because children are going to school early because both parents work. I am a kindergarten teacher and would recomend she send her daughter to kindergarten because children learn to read, write, count to 100, add and subtract before going to first grade. But legally kinderfgarten is not mandatory.


In PA Kindergarten is not mandatory. Kids don't have to start until first grade. I looked into homeschooling my son for K and they told me it was basically a waste of their time...but I could do it on my own if I wanted. I agree with the moms in the beginning that you should check out the website for PA education to find your answers.

You do not have to send your children to Kindergarten, it is optional. As far as I know they HAVE to be enrolled in school by the age of 7. Kindergarten is not recognized as a grade, so through the eyes of the law they cannot force your child to attend until age 7. Hope this helps :)

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