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Admission to Kindergarten and Beginners

24 P.S.§ 5-503

Date Of Issue: December 1, 2022 (revised - Admission to Kindergarten and Beginners, BEC 24 P.S. § 5-503, issued September 1, 1997)


This BEC provides guidance regarding public school enrollment procedures for resident and non-resident children. It replaces the following BEC: Admission to Kindergarten and Beginners, BEC 24 P.S. § 5-503, issued September 1, 1997 and reflects current requirements of the Pennsylvania Public School Code and 22 Pa. Code, Chapter 11. These public school enrollment procedures, consistent with law, exist to ensure that public schools promptly enroll students who are residents or who are eligible non-resident students.

Establishment of Kindergarten

Kindergarten programs are established and maintained by local school boards for children between the ages of four and six. Once the kindergarten program is established it becomes an integral part of the elementary school program and must be treated as such. If the average attendance in a kindergarten program is ten or less for the school year, the board is to discontinue the program at the close of the school year.

The kindergarten program must provide a minimum of two and one-half hours of instruction for a half-day session or a minimum of five instructional hours for a full-day session.

Admission to Kindergarten

The local school board has the right and responsibility for establishing the age at which a child can begin the kindergarten program. Once the age requirement is established, districts cannot refuse admission to a child that meets the age requirement. The district's minimum entry age cannot be less than four years, 0 months, before the first day of the school term. The district's maximum entry age to kindergarten must be less than the district's entry age for beginners.

Attendance in Kindergarten

Kindergarten is not compulsory. Compulsory attendance begins at age six. A child enrolling in school for the first time may be placed in kindergarten, rather than first grade, if he or she is between the ages of four to six years old. Kindergarten for many children is the beginning of the school experience, however, a kindergarten child is not included in the definition of the term "beginner."


A beginner is a child who enters a school district's lowest elementary school grade that is above kindergarten.

Admission of Beginners

The local school board establishes the district's minimum age for beginners that may not be less than five years and seven months before September 1. The local school board must permit a child of beginners' age to attend the first grade and not require the child to attend kindergarten without parental consent.

The local school board can establish a procedure for early admission of beginners upon parental request. The board is not required to admit a child as a beginner if the chronological age is less than the district's established admission of beginners. The admission of beginners to the public schools must be confined to the first two weeks of the annual term.

Proof of the Child's Age

Any one of the following constitutes acceptable documentation:

  • birth certificate;
  • notarized copy of birth certificate;
  • baptismal certificate;
  • copy of the record of baptism – notarized or duly certified and showing the date of birth;
  • notarized statement from the parents or another relative indicating the date of birth;
  • a valid passport; or
  • a prior school record indicating the date of birth.

See 24 P.S. §13-1301 – §13-1306 - Enrollment of Students BEC.

School Age

Children are considered school age from the earliest admission age to a school district's kindergarten program, or when no kindergarten program is provided, to the district's earliest admission for beginners, until graduation from high school or the end of the school term in which the student turns 21, whichever occurs first.

Compulsory School Age

Compulsory school age is the period of a child's life from the time the child's parents elect to have the child enter school, which shall be no later than six years of age, until the child reaches 18 years of age. The term does not include a child who holds a certificate of graduation from a regularly accredited, licensed, registered, or approved high school. 24 P.S. § 13-1326.

Effective for the 2020-2021 school year, a child must comply with compulsory attendance requirements from age six to age 18. Specifically, a child who has attained the age of six on or before September 1 must enroll and attend school or begin a home school program that year. See 24 P.S. §§ 13-1326 – 13-1354: Compulsory School Attendance, Unlawful Absences, and School Attendance Improvement Conferences BEC.

Withdrawal from Kindergarten

Commonwealth v. Kerstetter, 94 A.3d 991 (Pa. 2014)

In Kerstetter, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that the Commonwealth's compulsory school attendance laws applied to children under the age of eight whose parents enrolled them in public kindergarten programs made available by school districts. Subsequently, the State Board of Education amended its regulations to comply with the ruling. 

Kerstetter also raised the issue of whether a parent can withdraw his or her child from kindergarten without being subject to truancy charges. Notably, the court acknowledged but did not offer an opinion on this issue. The State Board of Education recommends that parents or guardians who formally withdraw their child from kindergarten prior to reaching compulsory school age not be subject to compulsory attendance requirements.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) adopted and supports the State Board of Education's recommendation. 

Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, this provision applies to children under the age of six. 

School District Entrance Policies

Each district determines its own entrance requirements in accordance with State Board of Education regulations. In the event that a child has attended kindergarten in the Commonwealth and moves into another district, the department suggests that a child not be required to repeat kindergarten even though the child does not meet the new district's age requirement for beginners.

A child moving into Pennsylvania from a neighboring state who is already attending kindergarten should be considered for kindergarten placement based on the child's previous experiences and their compatibility with the program offered by the receiving district.

Every child of school age residing in a school district is entitled to attend the district's public schools.


Purdon's Statutes

     24 P.S. §5-503
     24 P.S. §13-1304
     24 P.S. §13-1326
     24 P.S. §15-1501
     24 P.S. §15-1504

State Board of Education Regulations

     22 Pa. Code §11.12
     22 Pa. Code §11.13
     22 Pa. Code §11.16


School Services Office
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Forum Building
607 South Drive
Harrisburg, PA  17120
Phone: 717-787-4860 Fax: 717-214-4389
Email: RA-PDE-SchoolSer​