Beginning in the fall, new kindergartners hoping to enroll in Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe must turn 5 years old by Sept. 1.

Previously, early childhood program enrollees needed a birthday falling before Oct. 31.

The Department of Defense Education Activity policy change "aligns DODEA with national trends as well as the age requirement in many military-impacted states," said Nancy Carillo, an educational technologist from Ansbach, Germany’s Rainbow Elementary School, in a news release Tuesday.

Also affected by the new policy will be new pre-kindergarten, Sure Start and first-grade students.

New pre-kindergarten and Sure Start students must be 4 years old by Sept. 1. New first-graders must be 6.

Educators, administrators and DODEA advisory councils were consulted before making the changes, Carillo said.

"Current trends were researched and reviewed, resulting in a recommendation to change the minimum entrance age requirement."

During the coming 2009-10 school year, exceptions to the new age limit policy will be made for students who complete kindergarten this year, as well as students from families that received change-of-duty-station orders after the present school year started who are already enrolled in an accredited kindergarten or first grade, the release said.

Other students who are currently enrolled in DODEA programs but not meeting the new age requirements might be eligible to participate in DODEA programs for one more year.

Parents or guardians should check with their local elementary school for more information.

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