PCSing to the US with a rising kindergartener

Kids in class
Kids in class

PCSing to the US with a rising kindergartener

by Ruth Ploeger, Army Region School Liaison Officer/Transition Support Specialist
Family and MWR CYS Services

Parents of preschoolers often have questions when it comes to their child moving up to kindergarten. If you child is entering kindergarten and you've just received orders to the U.S., there are a few differences between the education system between OCONUS and CONUS to keep in mind.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Kindergarten cutoff age isn’t uniform across the U.S. Typically the requirement is 5 years of age by a certain date. Find out more about kindergarten cutoff dates.
  • If your child has already started kindergarten and is moving to a state with an earlier cut-off date which would make your child ineligible for enrollment, have no fear. The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children provides that children of active duty military can be “grandfathered” into a class.
  • Immunizations should be up to date. State immunization requirements may vary. The CDC offers a handy immunization schedule for birth through age six. The Interstate Compact helps out here too. Military dependents are allowed to enroll in and start school without shot records with 30 days to provide proof of immunization. This allows time in case there are requirements that your child hasn’t yet met.
  • Full day kindergarten programs are almost universal, but not all places offer full day kindergarten, so be sure to check with the local schools as you make your housing decisions.
  • Have vision and hearing screening done prior to departing. These are vital to ensuring any problems a child may be having in school aren’t related to these issues. Most schools will do basic screenings during the year, but if your child comes in after it’s done a full year could go by without you recognizing a potential problem.
  • Kindergarten enrollment is optional in some U.S. districts.
  • Help your child have a happy first day by setting up a visit to the classroom prior to the big day! Meeting the teacher and seeing the layout of the room helps remove some fear of the unknown and makes for a less anxious first day. Ask if the school connects new students with current ones. Even children as young as five can be good ambassadors to new students. 

For more to help your student PCS, visit Europe Family and MWR's website for an Outbound Student Handbook.

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