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Should the state make kindergarten attendance mandatory?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on August 14, 2007

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Photo of Tracy Williams

“Yes. Kindergarten is important for building the social and academic skills they need to be successful in the first grade.”

Photo of Cale Emerson

“Yes. Both of my kids went, and I believe they got a lot out of it.”

Photo of Dennis Russell

“I think it would be great to have some sort of standardized testing to determine if the child should be required to go, but I don’t think it should be mandatory.”

Photo of Alisha Knight

“No. I think that the public school system has failed in every other aspect, and I don’t see how kindergarten is any different.”


Crossfire 10 years, 7 months ago

Yes. All members of the City Commission should be required to complete Kindergarten before they are allowed to make any more decisions.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 7 months ago

I assume Alisha Knight attended private school. If she didn't, I'd like to find out how the school failed her. Or is she just sprouting the propaganda bent on getting rid of public schools, so only the "haves" can get an education. I attended public school and they taught me to read, write, think, math, history. Even when I had a bad (or a teacher I didn't get along with) teacher, it taught me that I had to work with all types of people. Your education is partly your responsibility too. I do agree that we should make sure a child is developmentaly ready for school. Just because you reach the magical age of 5 doesn't mean you are at the same level as your peers.

Jeanne Cunningham 10 years, 7 months ago

NOT mandatory. Let them be kids for as long as possible.

Also, let them ease into the real world. NOT all parents send their younger-than-K-age to preschool, etc. (for the above reason), so ALL DAY, all at once iS TOO much. I think that's ONE reason more and more people are home-schooling. They don't want cookie-cutter-kids.

Kevin Sontag 10 years, 7 months ago

i went 2 kindygarden. im smrt now! I kan spell words like libary, nucular, and foilage!

heysoos 10 years, 7 months ago

"No. I think that the public school system has failed in every other aspect, and I don't see how kindergarten is any different."

So says a housekeeper?

sunflower_sue 10 years, 7 months ago

Um, I guess I thought it already was mandatory.

packrat 10 years, 7 months ago

heysoos --What is wrong with being a stay-at-home mom? Perhaps you failed to notice the baby in her arms? My wife is able to stay home with our children. She provides a much better environment and more learning than any daycare could ever achieve. My two oldest are at the top of their classes academically.

My youngest's birthday is a few days before the cut off date for entering school. She will be only 4 when kindergarten starts. We debated all summer about her starting school. She already knows her alphabet and colors. She can count to 30. She can even read around 20 words. Academically she is fine.

I don't think it should be mandatory.

concernedparent 10 years, 7 months ago

Then people will complain when their kiddos have to start 1st grade and go all day and they'll be so tired and can't adapt and blah blah blah.... Why wouldn't it be mandatory? Isn't 1st grade mandatory? and 2nd? It gets kids used to not being with the babysitter/mom and dad all day. It teaches them things other then just colors and counting. It teaches them how to be away from their parents for periods of time and how to share and interact with children. A family member of mine was just complaining yesterday of all day kindergarten and how would her little boy be able to go to school all day long and goodness he'll be so tired.... The whole time he's standing behind his moms leg with his arms wrapped around her so shy he wouldn't even talk to me.

heysoos 10 years, 7 months ago


Perhaps you failed to notice what her title is.

It doesn't say "stay at home mom," or "homemaker," it says housekeeper. As in, that's her job.

redneckwoman 10 years, 7 months ago

What about those who don't feel their kid is ready for Kindergarten? My youngest is a summer baby & will be one of the youngest in her class if she starts on time, but I've doubt that she will be ready emotionally. We have one more year to prep. her....i.e. Pre-school for a 2nd year.

Janet Lowther 10 years, 7 months ago

I don't know about Alisha, but the public schools failed to teach me critical thinking and analytical skills which were hard to pick up later.

This isn't a new problem: I graduated 30+ years ago, a time when the public schools here were comparatively free from the social engineering projects they have been saddled with today and were relatively academically successful.

Of course, the government isn't interested in having a large population with the skills to critically analyze their propaganda. If people had analyzed the global situation, rather than just gibbering "We're SCARED! We're SCARED!" after 9/11, they would have seen that we have a terrorist problem today because the US government has spent the last 60+ years f-word-ing with other people's countries!

Ceallach 10 years, 7 months ago

I couldn't find an article that prompted this question. Are they asking about kindergarten as currently provided, or all day kindergarten?

sgtwolverine 10 years, 7 months ago

I, too, thought it was mandatory already. Huh. Now I know it's not mandatory here in Michigan, either ... but there has been such a bill introduced here.

This teachers union is in support of the bill:

But I really don't recognize one of the words on that page: "Children whose parents choose to hold their children out of kindergarten, miss essential pooporunity to develop necessary skills, comptencies and interests in a supportive classroom environment."

Pooporunity? That's amazing.

Ceallach 10 years, 7 months ago

sgt, that is hilarious!! They also misspelled "second" in second semester within the first few paragraphs.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 7 months ago

I submit that school life is not the same as the real world.

Ceallach 10 years, 7 months ago

I do think kindergarten should be mandatory, but not as a full day course. I thoroughly enjoyed "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," and have found that to be more true than not :)

Sad news for some of our napping deprived posters, the naps are no longer part of k-garten, at least not in the elementary school that my g-daughter attends.

hipper_than_hip 10 years, 7 months ago

If pre-school isn't mandatory, and kindergarten isn't mandatory, then there should be a test to make sure first graders have the necessary skills to interact with their preschooled and kindergartened peers. And if they fail the test, hold those kids back a year. If I'm not mistaken, St Johns requires a pre-enrollment interview and test before admitting students.

adriennerm 10 years, 7 months ago

redneckwoman (Anonymous) says: What about those who don't feel their kid is ready for Kindergarten? My youngest is a summer baby .

My daughter's b-day is in August. She is always the youngest in class and never had a problem.

I guess you would rather let your child stay out another year. Therefore they can be the oldest in class.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 7 months ago

Actually, these days, many kids ease from "no school" to preschool to kindergarten. So I don't think kindergarten is as big a step as it used to be.

Anyway, I am not entirely convinced that the kindergarten step is universally necessary; it may help some kids, but it may not be necessary for others. That's why I'm not the biggest fan of making it mandatory. At that age, let's leave some things up to the judgment of the parents.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 7 months ago

I didn't get to go to preschool...therefore, I missed out on some fine pooporunities! (I just wanted the pooporunity to say that word.)

As far as the whole age thing goes: I have a "youngest student" and an "oldest student." It all evens out eventually and if you hold them back, you get the same thing as if you had just get it over with earlier. (Just my own personal experience and my 2 cents.) And, for the record, I was a "youngest" myself. Not so much as my bro, though, who started K when he was still more than a month from turning 5. They say we will both eventually catch up with our peers.

I know someone who held both of her boys back an extra year from starting K. She really wanted her kids to have an edge on the other students. Wah? Give me a break! Knowing this makes me question why others would hold their children back. I think that if a child is "not emotionally ready" to start K when they are of age, all the more reason to send them. (Like I said, just my 2 cents.)

Liberty 10 years, 7 months ago

No. For the State to "mandate" anything is not good or within their jurisdiction. The State is here to serve all the people of Kansas, not mandate things for the people to do. People should always maintain the freedom to make their own choice for their own children or for religious reasons. The State does not own your child, why would it be legal for them to mandate something for a child that does not belong to them? Would you want your neighbor making internal decisions for your family matters because the neighbor thinks you are not able or it would be good for you? I think not.

Do they ask such questions to see just how many people will actually fall for this stuff? Come on people, wake up and act like you have some backbone to make your own decisions for your children.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 7 months ago

RI, I'd see your 50 cents but, as I'm broke today, I'll have to fold.

I'd still like to take a poll to see how many people actually knew kindergarten was optional.

As far as making decisions for my neighbors...I'd love to! And I'd really love for my neighbors to get over here and tell me how to repair a hot tub cover that my darling hubby burned dozens of tiny holes into during one of his pyromaniac snafus. I'd also like to know how a rodent chews a hole through a "vapor line" connected to a gas tank and it costs $700 to replace because it's all attached and they have to replace the tank because it's connected to this tiny hose with the tiny chewed hole and why the rodent wasn't forced into little rodent kindergarten and why we have a German name for a place we send 5 yr olds to in the US. Whew! I feel better!

sgtwolverine 10 years, 7 months ago

I think the AFT would be thrilled to see the burgeoning popularity of the word they created.

I would also be curious to see a long-term study (into adulthood) to track the lives of those who did go to kindergarten (and/or preschool) and those who did not go. That is not a loaded statement; I really would be curious to see that kind of research.

coolmom 10 years, 7 months ago

no. for my own reasons but by not mandatory wouldnt that mean that everyone who wanted their kids in school could and everyone else could wait? whats all the fuss?

Richard Heckler 10 years, 7 months ago

No. Parent option. Social skills can be developed through everyday experience. Public schools seem to teach the 'bully" aspect of social skills.

Again parent option.

Deb Engstrom 10 years, 7 months ago

Public schools don't teach bullying -- it's already present and doesn't need to be taught. One of my children was a bully and another was the favorite victim of a bully and both received the support they needed in public school to correct their behavior. It's called group dynamics and everyone needs those skills to survive in this life. It all starts in Kindergarten -- and anti-bullying is part of the curriculum. It might be OK to have parents provide input into when their child starts kindergarten, but it definitely should be mandatory (maybe even a year of preschool, too).

letsgetwise 10 years, 7 months ago

I believe in KS you are not required to be in school until the age of 7, unless they changed it. Therefore, I guess then, what would you do with a 7 year old who does know how to read, write, count and knows their colors? Kindergarten can be great, but I don't believe it should be MANDATORY. I didn't go to kindergarten, and I believe I'm fairly well socialized, I play well with the other kids etc. I graduated in the top 10% of my class, I didn't graduate college (and wish I had), I do well in Math and English, helped run a business, am raising wonderful kids, 2 who have been homeschooled at one point or another, and are now in college doing fine.

letsgetwise 10 years, 7 months ago

"It might be OK to have parents provide input into when their child starts kindergarten, but it definitely should be mandatory (maybe even a year of preschool, too).

I disagree. What is it that makes all these other people's opinions so much better than yours? I've been told that nobody knows a child better than the parent. I understand the parent must take the effort and be involved in their children's lives, but for those of us who are, I don't believe that all the preschool programs and kindergarten programs have that much to offer to be MANDATORY.

And by the kids did go to kindergarten. We chose to have them go to kindergarten and would probably do so again. But, by the end of 1st grade one of my children, who had been a total "sponge" for learning was spelling worse and reading worse than when he started in kindergarten. He was in tears, literally having to be pushed out the door to go to school. He had been literally picked up and thrown down on the playground during recess and then told by the teacher he needed to "learn how to work things out". Things don't always work like all the textbooks and experts say, and when it is your child that is having difficulty, you find you need to do what is necessary to make that child succeed. In our case, we homeschooled him for 2 years and then he went back into the public school system. I would do it again in a heartbeat. If my children who are still in school now needed to be home, for whatever reason, I wouldn't hesitate to pull them out and work with them again. For all the naysayers about children "clinging" to their parents, some grow out of that at an older age than others. Some need that push out of the nest, but the state does not need to MANDATE it so. What better time for a child to want to be with their family. All too soon, they find other interests and are off into the "real world".

twist 10 years ago

my son is in kindergarten this year.... boston currently has mandatory full day kindergarten. on top of that they are pushing the first grade curriculum on these kids. they are counting to 100, adding, subtracting, reading, writing. it is a LOT of pressure for my 5 year old child (although most of the kids in his class are 6 years old). i'm at the point where i wish i waited one more year before i subjected my son to this kind of pressure, one year makes a huge difference with kids as far as what they are capable of dealing with as well as skill levels. by the way this is only happening in our kindergartens because of the MCAS, not because these teachers have an honest hearted desire to do what they interpret as good for the kids.

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