Minimum Age Requirements

Kindergarten Eligibility

Little girl doing school workDoD dependents under the NDSP follow the same criteria as the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR) for entrance into the equivalent of U.S. kindergarten.

In a location where a school follows a Northern Hemisphere/U.S. school calendar (school begins in Jul/Aug/Sep), the child must turn five years old on or before December 31st of that school year. In a location where a school follows a Southern Hemisphere school calendar (school begins in Jan/Feb/Mar), the child must be at least four years and eight months by the beginning of the school year.

When a school entry date cutoff is earlier than the dates noted above, the school's kindergarten age policy prevails. The NDSP policy may not override a school's policy (e.g. a school requires a child to be five as of September 30th to enter into kindergarten).

If the child turns five after September 1st (for schools beginning their school year in Jul/Aug/Sep) or February 1st (for schools beginning their school year in Jan/Feb/Mar and meets the above age requirements, the NDSP requires an official memorandum from the school verifying that the school has accepted the child into the equivalent of U.S. kindergarten. In this situation, parents should carefully consider their child's social, emotional and academic readiness for kindergarten and the possible effects when transitioning back to the U.S. public schools after the overseas tour.

NDSP will fund only one year prior to the equivalent of U.S. first grade (kindergarten). If a school provides more than one year of kindergarten (e.g. K1, K2), NDSP will fund the last year of kindergarten attendance. In schools utilizing a British curriculum, the equivalent of U.S. kindergarten is Year 1.View the Comparison School Systems Grade Equivalents which provides information regarding the equivalent to U.S. grade levels.

No exception to policy requests are considered for entrance age waivers.

NOTE: If a host nation has a compulsory age requirement for students but the NDSP student will not be enrolled in the equivalent of U.S. kindergarten, the family will need to enroll the child in the host nation public school or they may choose to send the child to a private school at their own expense.


First Grade Eligibility

In a location where a school follows a Northern Hemisphere/U.S. school calendar (school begins in Jul/Aug/Sep), the child must turn six years old on or before December 31st of that school year. In a location where a school follows a Southern Hemisphere school calendar (school begins in Jan/Feb/Mar), the child must be at least five years and eight months by the beginning of the school year.


What about Pre-Kindergarten Eligibility?

Pre-K is any education provided more than a year prior to kindergarten. Pre-K is not authorized under the NDSP.

DoDEA is only authorized to enroll and provide financial assistance to eligible dependents in grades K-12.

The only exception is when a child between the ages of three and five is identified with special education needs and Pre-K services are included in the Individual Education Program (IEP).

Pre-K is called different things in various countries. Some examples include:

  • United Kingdom/British Curriculum: Pre-K is Reception or Nursery.
  • Netherlands: Pre-K is Group 1.