Can a 7-Year-Old Be In First Grade?

A seven-year-old can be in 1st grade, depending on when his or her birthday is. Normally, a first grader does not start the school year as a seven-year-old.

A seven-year-old can be in first grade. The normal starting age for first grade is six years old, and sometime during the school year or before the next school year, they could have their birthday and turn seven years old.

Every state has different requirements, so continue reading to learn about your state, as well as reasons why the starting age for first grade differs.

State Requirements

There are certain requirements for when children can and should start school, and it all starts in kindergarten. Preschool isn’t required in every state, so it is up to the parents when and if they send their kids to preschool, and how long they go to preschool. However, once they hit kindergarten age, the state decides how old they need to be and when they should start. All states require you to be 5 when you start kindergarten, it just differs by the state when that is. The child will then be six years old when he or she starts 1st grade, turning seven years old sometime throughout the school year. Here are the different date cutoffs for kindergarten in each state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.


Most states require children to be 5 on or before September 1st of the school year. These states include Alabama, Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Arizona, New Mexico, and West Virginia’s requirements are five years old before September 1st. In Utah, you need to be 5 on or before September 2nd. In Montana, you need to be five on or before September 10th. In Wyoming and Iowa, you need to be 5 on or before September 15th. In Louisiana, you need to be 5 by September 30th. By September 31st you need to be 5 in Virginia, Nevada, and the District of Columbia.


In Missouri and North Dakota, you need to be 5 before August 1st. In Arkansas, Indiana, and Kentucky you need to be 5 on or before August 1st. In Tennessee, you have to be five on or before August 15th. In Deleware, Kansas, North Carolina, and Washington children need to be 5 on or before August 31st.

July, October, and January

In Hawaii and Nebraska, you need to be 5 on or before July 31st.

In Colorado, you have to be 5 on or before October 1st, and in Maine, you have to be five by October 15th.

In Connecticut, you must be five on or before January 1st of the current school year. This means you could start kindergarten at age 4, and start 1st grade at age 5.


In Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, it depends on LEA, the Local Education Agency. For more information, you can call the local elementary school in your area and ask when your child should start school depending on his or her birthday. There is also no data for New Hampshire, so you will have to call the school if you live in New Hampshire as well. In addition to all this data, there could still be schools that differ from the state they are in, so double-check by calling your child’s future school. (Source)

Why a 1st grader may be held back

Some people start their kids a year earlier or later, so they may be 5 and turn 6 when they’re in first grade, or they could be 7 when they start and turn 8. This depends on the state laws, as the cutoff date for kindergarten is different in every state. Some kids aren’t ready for 1st grade and so they are held back to have an extra year to develop either socially or mentally to enter school. Kindergarten is a lot different than the other grades of elementary school.

In some cases, a 1st grader will not start 1st grade as a six-year-old. They could be five or seven. If they are five this means that they started school early, due to their academic advancements. It isn’t very common but some children learn a lot quicker than others and from a young age parents and teachers can see that the child is gifted and doesn’t need to go to kindergarten. They would then skip kindergarten and start 1st grade as a five-year-old. They could adjust quickly, but for others, it may be hard socially to be younger than everybody else.

It is more common that a child may be held back, and start 1st grade as a seven-year-old. This is because they may have a later birthday, so they aren’t mentally old enough to start grade school. Parents may hold their kids back until they feel that they are ready. This should be discussed with the school and the child’s previous teachers. Teachers can observe the child in the classroom and fully assess whether they are ready or not.

Summer birthdays are also very tricky. Their birthday could be right before or after the cutoff date, fully changing the course of their lives. If parents feel that they should start sooner or later because of their birthday, they can talk to the school and make that decision. Every child is different, so the conversation should be taken seriously.

Long-Lasting Effects

Starting 1st grade as a seven-year-old can have long-lasting effects. They will always be older than everybody else. They will start their senior year as an adult and feel held back from starting the rest of their lives. As they go through college, they will also graduate at an older age and essentially be getting a later start on their career than everybody else their age. This is something to think about when you are considering holding your child back and having them start 1st grade as a seven-year-old. It is possible, but it isn’t common. (Source)