A recent World News Daily article reported a push for universal preschool starting at age three. This idea isn’t new, however. President Obama promoted preschool opportunities starting at birth in his 2013 State of the Union address. Closer to home, preschool has been entrenched in WV schools and on the radar of the school system for several years now.
There are really two pertinent issues here:
- Do we want to send our kids to preschool?
- Do we have to send our kids to preschool?
In this article, we are only going to address the latter question. So far, the clear answer to that question is no. Compulsory attendance in WV begins at age 6. CHEWV worked diligently several years ago to retain parents’ rights to remove their child from preschool without having to come under compulsory attendance laws prior to age 6.
So if there’s a push for universal preschool starting at age three, how will this affect WV homeschooling?
First, it technically doesn’t have to as long as compulsory age is not lowered – and the private homeschool exemption remains in place. Despite compulsory age remaining at age 6, most parents still send their kids to school at age four or five, unaware that it’s not required.
In WV, homeschooling can be done starting at birth yet not come under any scrutiny of the school system until the student hits compulsory age.
However, kindergarten and preschool programs can become compulsory even if the age associated with them is not compulsory. That has already happened with kindergarten in WV. Even though compulsory age was not lowered to five, completion of kindergarten became required. Essentially, that meant that if children weren’t sent to school until age 6, they were still put in kindergarten rather than first grade. For all practical purposes, parents were somewhat forced to send children at age 5 if they wanted to keep them with their same-age peers.
The bigger issue, though, is the changing cultural expectation about preschool. It used to be that CHEWV would first hear from prospective parents shortly before their oldest turned five, because “school” was generally thought of as starting at age five. Now parents make choices about home education as early as pregnancy and almost always before age four.
CHEWV has changed with the need, addressing preschool pressures and expectations and providing valuable information to help parents sort through the issues. We’ve also stayed abreast of preschool legislation, working to ensure that children do not have to come under the homeschooling exemption prior to age 6.
Want to know more about preschool and homeschooling? We have a whole preschool section on our website just for you!