In about six months, the class of 2025 starts to enter the doors of kindergarten.
What's expected of them in their first four years of school may be more than their siblings, and certainly more than their parents and grandparents, faced.
Schools around the East Valley are preparing to welcome those students, as registration gets started this month and next. Some schools - such as the Gilbert Unified School District - have already begun to gather immunization records and birth certificates for incoming kindergartners. Popular charter schools are collecting the information for lotteries or are taking applications now on a first-come, first-served basis.
More attention is being placed on kindergarten because in two years, state law will require public schools to hold back third-graders who don't pass the reading portion of the AIMS test.
"It is very different from when you and I went to school," said Janis Weyenberg, principal at Chandler's Riggs Elementary School and a former kindergarten teacher. "We have an established curriculum we've had for a number of years. Each year it seems it's gotten more and more difficult. The objectives change. Some of our kindergartners are learning things now we typically would have taught in first or second (grade) ... It's quite rigorous."
Schools in the East Valley are also challenged with keeping the material at an appropriate development level, while also creating a nurturing environment for kids, Weyenberg said.
Parents considering where to send their kids to school next year enjoy a number of choices - from traditional programs to Montessori classes to back-to-basics and dual language programs.
Arizona only funds half-day kindergarten, but most East Valley schools offer full-day free. Half day options are available, as well, to parents who still desire that option. Most schools require that students are 5 years old by Sept. 1. However, some offer early kindergarten or testing for parents who feel their children are ready, but don't meet the age requirement.
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