To enroll your child in school, you will need to demonstrate that he meets the school district's age requirements for kindergarten. Some schools require that a child be five by September of his entry year. Others use different cut off dates. If proof of age is requested, bring a birth certificate, religious (baptismal) certificate, or a physician's record. If you feel convinced that your child is ready for kindergarten and you want him to attend, but he has not reached the designated chronological age, find out the exemption process that may be offered in your school district.
Visiting the Doctor
Before your child enters school, make an appointment for your youngster with your pediatrician. The doctor will make certain your child is properly immunized and can discuss with you the various issues related to this important transition.
Since many schools register new kindergarten students in the spring, schedule this doctor's visit for late winter or early spring so the important readiness issues discussed earlier can be addressed well in advance, and so that you avoid the late-summer logjam in the physician's office. Ask for a copy of your youngster's immunizations to bring with you to school during registration.
When you register your youngster, you will be asked for his immunization record. Specifically, the school staff will want to see either a copy of the record from your child's pediatrician or the clinic where the immunizations were given, including the doctor's signature, or a summary copy from the physician's office.
If you do not have a record but are sure your child has had all the necessary shots, the school will usually give you some time to obtain the records. In many places they will not be able simply to take your word for it; the immunization requirement is a state law, and the state dictates which types of records are acceptable.
A fully immunized child who has had a four- or five-year-old checkup will have had one or two MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), five DTP, DTaP, or DT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus), four polio vaccines, and three to four Haemophilus influenzae B conjugate vaccines. He may have also been immunized against hepatitis B and chicken pox. All these immunizations are not necessarily required for school entry, so check with your school to find out which ones are needed.
If your child does not have the immunizations required by your particular school district, your pediatrician will likely recognize this and can address the problem during the prekindergarten appointment you have made. The needed immunizations can often be given at that visit. Even if additional immunizations are needed, your child will probably be admitted to school with a note from your pediatrician that the immunizations are "in progress." School personnel are aware that time intervals (such as six weeks) are often needed between some of these immunizations, but may allow only that amount of time, so be prompt.
If your child has not been immunized because you have moral or religious objections to immunizations, ask the school staff about the exemption process. Some parents who have not had their children previously immunized decide to have immunizations done when their children start school because their youngsters will now be exposed to large numbers of children and diseases. Talk it over with your pediatrician if you have questions or concerns.