Georgia house bill may raise start date for kindergartners

GA house bill may raise the age to enroll into kindergarten

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A new bill in Georgia wants to establish age requirements for children starting kindergarten.

The bill will cut down on the number of 4-year-olds starting kindergarten too soon.

Right now children in Georgia are required to be 5 by Sept. 1. That date could change by 2017.

Lawmakers in the state capitol wants children to be 5 years old by August 1 to enroll in kindergarten for the 2017-2018 school year. The next school term, 2018-2019, they will need to be 5 by July 1.

Some say this bill would ensure children are mature enough when they start, but some parents believe older children won't necessarily be more prepared.

"I'm not for that at all, I think they are going to be way behind and overly mature, more mature than the children they are going to school with," said Stacey Chapman.

"They could not even be fair in that. I'm a product of kindergarten at an early age, went to school early and finished school at 17," said Herring.

Parents suggest leaving it up to the them to decide if their child is ready to begin school at age 4 or 5.

If the bill is approved, Georgia's kindergarten cutoff date would be one of the earliest in the nation.

The bill was approved in the house by a vote of 110 to 53.

"I guess I can understand doing it because the school year starts so early now," said Stacey Chapman.

The bill passed Thursday and parents don't think it's the right thing to do.

"Getting an education is unlimited on what they will learn, where they will go and do. I'm in support in education in every way for every student, said James Herring.

"It holds the children back. If you have the typically 4 and 5 year old, they are pretty bright," Chapman said.

Legislators say the bill will make sure children are ready for when they do start. Chapman says her son, now 14, started late because of his birthday.

"He started late and he's more mature than his classmates and that's just the name of the game," said Chapman.

And while the children are the focus, some believe there are other options to decide if your child is ready to enter into kindergarten.

"What the state needs to do is invest in teachers, make sure they are committed and gifted and desiring to be in that area," said Herring.

"Maybe Pre-K testing, when they leave out of Pre-K and that's something you can check with the parents to make sure they are ready. To make sure they are ready going in, so it's not an issue of them not being ready," said Chapman.

The bill now goes to the senate for a vote.

Copyright 2015 WTVM. All rights reserved.