SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (April 4, 2014) -- The Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) is encouraging all parents to register their children into the kindergarten program for the 2014-15 school year.

The cut-off age to enter kindergarten varies across the United States.

In Hawaii, children who become five years of age on or before July 31st of the school year may attend kindergarten.

Although kindergarten is not mandatory in Hawaii, all Army families are highly recommended to consider registering into the program by April 30.

"Kindergarten is important because it gives students the basic fundamental skills they need to be successful in their school career," said Kelsey Richvalsky, Solomon Elementary School kindergarten teacher. "Not only will they learn a great amount academically, but it gives them an opportunity to adapt in a classroom setting and learn how to follow school rules and directions."

With the start of the Hawaii Revised Statute 302A-411 that governs the enrollment age, late-born children who are turning 5 years old from Aug. 1-Dec. 31 will no longer be placed in junior kindergarten.

Other options beside junior kindergarten are the Child, Youth & School Services (CYSS); Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration, and Skills (SKIES) programs; the Armed Services YMCA; and the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program. SKIES offer preschool writing, reading, art, dance and kinder jam during the week.

"The children who join the preschool writing and reading program gain early development on vocabulary, narrative skills, print awareness and identifying letters and sounds," said Gayina Lebedeva, SKIES preschool teacher.

Wheeler and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam ASYMCA branches offer Parent Participation Preschool that assists the child(ren) in making the transition from home to school.

Families living in the Ewa and Kapolei communities may register for the HIPPY program, a free kindergarten readiness program for children ages 3-5. HIPPY received a grant from the Department of Health (DOH) to serve military families.

In preparation for kindergarten registration, Army families may take their out-of-state physical examination, shot records and tuberculosis (TB) test to the U.S. Army Health Clinic to have them transcribed to the Student Health Record Form 14. Other documents required are the birth certificate and proof of residency (housing papers, utility bill and more).

For more information about the kindergarten program, call the School Liaison Office at 808-655-8326.