Every year, thousands of parents ask what they must do to enroll their children in Kentucky's public schools. This section of our website answers parents' most frequently asked questions. It is always best to visit your local school and ask these questions directly. Most schools have their enrollment requirements available as a handout for parents. We also encourage parents to visit the school - with their children - prior to the first day of school.
Q. At what age are children required to enter school?
A. In Kentucky, under state law, all children must be enrolled in and attend school between the ages of 6 and 18.
Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, the entry date changes from October 1 to August 1. A child who is 6 years old or who turns 6 by August 1, must attend public school. A child who is 5 years old or who will turn 5 by August 1 will be able to enroll in primary school. See the state law that outlines these requirements here.
Schools may enroll underage students in kindergarten based on local board policy. A district’s policy may consider factors other than readiness, such as availability of funding and space.
Though a school district can charge tuition for an underage resident student admitted to kindergarten under the district’s early admission policy, the district may only charge, at most, the amount of tuition that the district charges for resident students who meet the age requirement in statute. If a district does not charge tuition for resident students who meet the age requirements in Kentucky law, then the district may not charge tuition for a resident student admitted under the district’s early admission policy.
If a district does charge tuition for non-resident students who meet the age requirements in Kentucky law and who are not attending under a non-resident student agreement, then the district may not charge more tuition for the non-resident resident student admitted under the district’s early admission policy than the district charges other non-resident students who attend school in that district outside a non-resident student agreement.
As well, if the student/family qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, then the district has to waive any tuition fee for the early admission resident student, pursuant to Kentucky regulation 702 KAR 3:220. Please consult the district’s policies and procedures to apply for this fee waiver for free or reduced-price eligible students.
Preschool programs are available for eligible 3- and 4-year-old children as well.
In Head Start and state-funded preschool, the August 1 cut-off has been in effect since 2014-15. All at-risk 4-year-olds enrolled in state-funded preschool this year will be age-eligible for kindergarten in 2017-2018 (5 years old by August 1). No momentum should be lost for these students; transition should happen smoothly.
Q. At what age, and using what criteria, are children eligible for the preschool program?
A. Preschool programs are available to 4-year-old children who are "at risk," meaning they are eligible for the federal School Meals Program. Preschool also is available for 3- and 4-year-old children with disabilities. Enrollment of a child in the preschool program is at the discretion of the parent or legal guardian. For more information about the preschool offerings in your district, or to see if your child is eligible, it is best to contact your local school district directly.
For general information on preschool, click here or contact Bill Buchanan at (502) 564-7056.
Q. What documentation do I need to provide when registering my child in school?
A. Prior to school attendance, each child shall have on file:
* a legal birth certificate or other reliable proof* of age and identification
* a current Kentucky certificate of immunization
* proof of a preventative health care examination conducted within six months prior to initial entry into the Head Start Program and another preventative health care examination within one-year priority to entry into the 6th grade
* proof of an eye examination between ages 3-6 by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, documented on the Kentucky School Eye Exam Form; documentation must be presented to the school district no later than January 1 of the first year that the child is enrolled
* proof of a dental screening or examination by a dentist, dental hygienist, physician, registered nurse, advanced registered nurse practitioner or physician assistant, documented on the Kentucky Dental Screening Form (This form must be presented to the school no later than January 1 of the first year that a 5- or 6-year-old child is enrolled.)
KDE guidance indicates that schools are required to enroll students regardless of their immigration status and provide additional enrollment assistance to those students who are “homeless children and youths," individuals who lack a fixed, regular and adequate night-time residence.
*Examples of "other reliable proof:" Types of "other reliable proof" of a student's identity and age may include but not be limited to:
Social Security card; passport; military identification or immigration card; baptismal certificate; copy of the record of baptism – notarized or duly certified and which reflects the date of the student’s birth; recording of student’s name and birth in a family Bible or other religious text; notarized statement from the parents or another relative or guardian as to the date of the student’s birth; prior school record indicating the date of the student’s birth; driver’s license or learner’s permit; adoption record; any religious record authorized by a religious official; affidavit of identity and age; any government document or court record reflecting the date of the student’s birth; oral proof when the native language of a parent or guardian is not a written language.
For additional guidance on forms of identification a district can require for initial enrollment
Q. What immunizations are required?
For information on the Kentucky Immunization Program, call (502) 564-4478 or visit this page
Q. How do I prove my child was immunized?
A. A current immunization certificate must be on file at the school within two weeks of the child's enrollment.
Q. Is an eye exam required?
A. All children between the ages 3 and 6 who are entering public preschool, Head Start or public school for the first time must have an eye examination by an optometrist or ophthalmologist no later than January 1 of the school year.
Q. What are the requirements regarding the preventative health care (physical) examination?
A. Each child needs a preventative health care examination within six months prior to the child's initial admission to Head Start. A second examination is required within one year prior to entry into the 6th grade. A third examination may be required by policy of the local board of education within one year prior to entry into the 9th grade or initial admission to school.
A cumulative health record is maintained by the school for each pupil entering school. The record will be maintained throughout the pupil's attendance. The record will include the preventative health care examination and screening tests related to growth and development, vision, hearing, and scoliosis, and findings and recommendations of a physician and a dentist.
Students who transfer from out of state also must provide documentation of a preventative health care examination.
Q. Where can I get copies of the required health forms?
A. The forms are available for download here
Q. What are the requirements for home schooling?
A. Parents may choose to educate their children at home, or in another form of private school, in lieu of compulsory attendance at a public school. Homeschools are considered unaccredited private schools in Kentucky and are not recognized by the Kentucky Board of Education due to their lack of accreditation.
Kentucky law (KRS 159.040
) provides that homeschooled children are to attend school for a term that is the same length as the public schools, and the students are to receive basic instruction in core subjects. The current requirements for public school instructional time in Kentucky mandate that children receive instruction for a minimum of the equivalent of 177 six-hour days during a school year.
The person/parent administering the school is to send a letter to the superintendent of the public school district notifying the district that child will be in a homeschool (KRS 159.030
). The private school/parent is to maintain regular scholarship progress reports and attendance records (KRS 159.040
); however there is not a requirement that these reports be sent to the Kentucky Department of Education or to the local school district. Pursuant to KRS 159.040, “[s]uch schools shall at all times be open to inspection by directors of pupil personnel and officials of the Department of Education.” As required by KRS 158.080
: “Private and parochial schools shall be taught in the English language and shall offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state, consistent with KRS 156.445(3).”
Although the director of pupil personnel does not have the authority to dictate or evaluate the methods or theories chosen for instruction, that individual can require the homeschool, like any private school in the district, to provide evidence that it is offering thorough instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools in this state.
If a director of pupil personnel believes that a homeschool is not meeting the requirements of KRS 158.080 or any of the other requirements placed on homeschools, then that individual should report these cases of educational neglect to the local Department for Community Based Service.
Alternatively, in a situation where a director of pupil personnel questions the value of the educational services provided in a homeschool, that individual may wish to encourage the parents and the student to rethink enrolling the child in the public schools or in an accredited private school.
Although attendance in a homeschool will satisfy the compulsory attendance statutes, graduation from one may not provide an individual with a diploma that most employers or postsecondary institutions will recognize. Homeschool graduates may have to provide proof of mastery of knowledge expected of a high school graduate. This additional requirement may take the form of a General Education Diploma requirement or from an additional testing requirement from an employer or postsecondary institution.
For more information, contact your local school district. For general information about home schooling in Kentucky, please visit our page
or contact Neil Watts
at (502) 564-3791.
Q. What do I need to know about non-public schools in Kentucky?
A. Kentucky has numerous high-quality non-public schools, each of which determines its own curriculum and extra-curricular offerings. Although non-public schools are not required to be accredited or certified to be considered legal schools, their oversight is the responsibility of each local school district or a governing body such as a diocese. The Kentucky Non-Public Schools Commission
, a non-profit organization that represents the non-public school community, offers advice and assistance to non-public schools and parents seeking non-public schools. You can reach the commission at (859) 392-1534.