Starting Kindergarten in Illinois

About this resource
Reviewed: 2006

To begin kindergarten in the state of Illinois, a child should be 5 years old on or before September 1 of the kindergarten year and live within the boundaries of the school district.

Do Illinois school districts assess school readiness?

In addition to age and residency requirements, districts may choose whether to consider an assessment of a child’s readiness for school.

According to the Illinois School Code, children who will be 5 years old on or before September 1 may begin school. Based upon an assessment of a child’s school readiness, a school district may choose to permit a child to attend school prior to that date, or it may choose not to do so. In a school district operating on a year-round school basis, children who will be age 5 within 30 days after a term starts may begin to attend school that term. For the full text of this code, see Illinois school code, 105 ILCS 5/ § 10-20.12. School year-School age.

How does the Illinois cutoff date compare with the dates used by other states?

Although September 1 seems to be the most frequently used cutoff date for kindergarten entry in the United States, states use dates ranging from January 1 to December 31. Some states, such as Colorado, let local education authorities decide upon a date.

View state profiles of kindergarten policies

Do all Illinois children have to attend kindergarten?

At present, Illinois requires districts to offer kindergarten but does not require that children attend kindergarten before being permitted to enroll in first grade.

Source: Pupils-Compulsory Attendance

May a child begin first grade before she is 6 years old if she attended a private kindergarten?

Based upon the school’s assessment of her readiness, a child who will be 6 years old on or before December 31 may begin first grade in the fall under certain conditions. She must have attended a non‑public preschool, continued her education at that school through kindergarten, and been taught by an appropriately certified kindergarten teacher.

Source: Public Act 096-0864