Elk Island Public Schools are changing the rules for when children can begin kindergarten.

Beginning next September, all new kindergarten students must turn five by December 31, 2014.

This is two months earlier than the standard set by the province, which funds schooling for all children who will turn five years old by March of their kindergarten year.

Marianne Barrett is the director of instructional services with the Elk Island school board.

She said the coming changes are based partly on recommendations made by kindergarten teachers in Elk Island.

“They advocated for us to look at changing the entry age,” she said. “Certainly, their experience told them that the younger cohorts tended to have more difficulties. Not only learning-wise, but socially.”

Barrett said that changing the admission age, even only slightly, will make a difference in children’s success in the classroom.

“We feel that just by removing those couple of months ...  those children will be older when they come to us, and then much more likely to be ready from a social and learning perspective.”

Almost half of all school boards across the province will be joining Elk Island in moving to the December 31 cutoff date.

Both public and Catholic school boards in Edmonton and Calgary still use March as their cut-off date for kindergarten admission.