Madison Metropolitan School District - Early Entrance to 5 Year Old Kindergarten

(Board of Education Policy 4011.  Applications accepted March through August 1 only)

Early Entrance into 5 Year Old Kindergarten (5K) - Considerations for Parents

The majority of children entering 5K have a birthdate on or before September 1st, the required age to attend 5K.  Early entrance into 5K is considered a grade-skip of an entire grade level for a 4 year old child and, although many children who attend preschool may have knowledge of letters and numbers, that is not an indication that they are ready for 5K.  Much more is taught in the preschool years to prepare children for 5K than letters and numbers.  There is a significant focus and emphasis, for example, on teaching students social/emotional skills so that students learn, first and foremost, how to interact appropriately and positively with their peers in a school environment. Furthermore, 5K is where most children begin to learn to read and write. Though some children can do this before entering 5K, it is not required or expected. If a child begins their school trajectory without learning basic, age appropriate skills, it may lead to struggles their entire academic career. Being ready for 5K means exhibiting age appropriate preschool skills, and being academically, socially, and physically ready for the transition. 

Below is a list of skills that indicate your child may be ready for 5K.  For more information about what is taught in 5K, view the academic learning standards at Academic Standards.

Academic Skill Development (pre-reading and math skills)

  • Knows 12-21 upper and lowercase letters
  • Knows 4-8 beginning letter sounds
  • Can retell a simple story
  • Speaks in complete sentences of 5-6 words
  • Writes name or recognizes letters in name
  • Recognizes the title of a book
  • Recognizes rhyming sounds
  • Counts to 20

Social and Emotional Skill Development

  • Shows an awareness of own emotions
  • Displays age appropriate self control
  • Shows understanding of being part of larger group
  • Initiates and engages in appropriate social interactions with peers
  • Can identify and communicate needs in situations of conflict
  • Is able to share with others
  • Responds to others feelings with empathy
  • Can follow transitions and routines without issue
  • Recognizes classroom expectations
  • Does not take an afternoon nap
  • Feels comfortable in a group
  • Asks for help when needed
  • Knows personal information (name, age)
  • Will speak to unfamiliar adults
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Recognizes authority
  • Manages bathroom needs

Physical Skill Development

  • Exhibits fine motor skills (holds pencil, traces shapes, buttons shirt, etc.)
  • Exhibits motor coordination (gallops, hops, skips)
  • Exhibits self-help skills (toileting, washing hands, putting on coat/hat/gloves/boots)

Please read the remainder of this document very carefully if you are applying for early entrance to 5K.  There are many detailed and specific requirements and criteria listed.  After reading the remainder of this document, if your child meets the criteria, click here to apply for early entrance to Kindergarten if your child exhibits the skills listed aboveThe application window for early entrance is from March through August 1 of each given school year.  If you miss the August 1 deadline, it is no longer early entrance, and is an initial grade placement determined by a team of professionals at the school building. This team may include the principal, teacher, and school psychologist. Testing may be required.

If your child is not exhibiting the skills listed above, MMSD recommends that you enroll them into the MMSD 4 Year old Kindergarten (4K) program, ensuring their academic success in future grades. 

MMSD 4 Year Old Kindergarten (4K) Programming (There is no early entrance into 4K per Board of Education Policy 4011.)

The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) offers a quality 4 year old kindergarten (4K) program taught by Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction certified kindergarten teachers. MMSD elementary schools and participating Early Care and Education (ECE) centers provide instruction to 4 year olds based on the Wisconsin Model Early Learning and MMSD Department of Early Learning standards. Curriculum used in MMSD 4K programs align with these standards. This ensures that 4 year old kindergarten students are provided quality, research based instruction and learning opportunities to help prepare them for 5 year old kindergarten. Here is a list of MMSD 4K sites, including the ECE centers that partner with MMSD for 4K.

Many preschools and daycares in the Madison Community (ECE centers) offer programming to children who are 4 years old.  This does not indicate that the programming, however, is an actual and formal 4K program. Children often attend preschool programs as 4 year olds, along with children of other ages, and can be placed in settings with a range of ages.

Completion of 4K As Required for Early Entrance into 5K (if child’s birthdate is after October 15; see BOE policy criteria)

When submitting an application for early entrance to 5K, and indicating that your child completed a 4K program, the program must meet the following requirements, and you must submit the required documents and forms along with the early entrance application, in the manner as indicated below:

  • Students who have completed a formal four-year-old kindergarten program, that is a Department of Public Instruction (DPI) recognized public, private, or parochial program, with a Kindergarten state licensed teacher, and a 4K-5th grade or 4K-8th grade continuum of curriculum where a formal records request can be submitted.
  • Applications that indicate a child was 3 years old in a mixed age classroom does not qualify as completing a formal 4K program.  The child was not enrolled as a 4 year old in a DPI public, private or parochial school program, with a Kindergarten state licensed teacher. There is a difference between a 3 year old year and a 4 year old in mixed age classrooms/programs.
  • The 4K curriculum used by the agency in reference on the early entrance application, and the instruction received by the child for whom parents are applying for early entrance, must be aligned with the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (DPI), MMSD Department of Early Learning standards, and have evidence that it is research based.
  • Documents submitted with the early entrance application must show attendance in an approved 4K program for an entire school year.  If the child has not attended an approved 4K program that meets the listed requirements for an entire school year, the application will not be approved.
  • Documents submitted with the early entrance application must include a formal report card from the agency in reference where the child attended 4K, indicating the standards covered, as aligned with the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (DPI) and MMSD Department of Early Learning standards.  If documentation submitted does not appear to include a formal report card, with all standards listed, the application will not be approved.

Application Information from Outside the U.S.

If you are submitting an application and the documentation for the completion of 4K is from another country, the information provided must show clear and direct evidence of meeting the requirements as stated above. If it is not possible to determine that the 4K completion requirement has been fulfilled by the information submitted, the application will not be approved. In some cases, the principal of the neighborhood school in which the family submitting the application lives, may be involved in making the final decision for grade placement.