Four-Year-Old Kindergarten in Wisconsin


NEW! Save the Date! 2016 Preserving Early Childhood (PEC) Conference, March 2-3, 2016, Holiday Inn and Convention Center, Stevens Point, with an Environmental Education Preconference on March 1.



Research Related to 4K

Does Wisconsin's 4K program positively impact children's development? Yes. Wisconsin does not have data to correlate student performance on statewide tests with past 4K participation. We can, however, explore the impact by reviewing data from the National SWEEP study and from several Wisconsin school districts. See a summary here.


Impact of Community Approaches

Benefits and Impact of 4K Community Approach Website: The Office of Early Learning is pleased to announce our new website that helps tell the story of what makes 4-year-old kindergarten community approaches (4KCA) so good for children, families, child care, school districts, Head Start, community programs, and the general public. We invite you to read and view the great stories from communities throughout Wisconsin as they share their perceptions of 54 benefits communities commonly realized after implementing 4KCA. In addition to the stories of the benefits, you can find Wisconsin Storyteller Bob Kann’s Storytelling Techniques and other strategies to help frame your own community’s story.

As enrollment in Wisconsin’s four-year-old kindergarten (4K) grows, interest in measuring 4K’s impact on child development has also increased. A variety of studies the positive impact of these programs on children, society, and the economy: Research on 4YK


Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Start Up Grants

The 2008 state budget began start up grants for school districts wanting to implement four-year-old kindergarten. The statutes required priority to school districts using community approaches to 4K through partnerships with child care and Head Start. Go to our Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Grants page for more details.


New!The Unique History of Four-Year-Old Kindergarten in Wisconsin

This policy brief examines the remarkable history of 4-year-old Kindergarten (4K) in Wisconsin. The paper explores key developments, starting with the inclusion of education for 4-year-olds in the 1848 Constitution and the establishment of first private kindergarten in the country in Watertown in 1856, and follows the surge in public education for 4-year-olds in the late 1800s, the decline from 1920-1970, and the resurgence from 1980-2010. The policy brief examines the causes of the rapid growth in the last 15 years and the emergence of the community approach to 4K, and lays out several implications for the future.


Visit the 4-Year-Old Kindergarten Companion Website

You can learn more about Community Approaches to 4K and the Forces for Four-Year-Olds initiative by visiting our Websites. You will find more information including: testimonials, financal guidance, and program evaluation.

You can also watch the new video Video on community approaches to 4-year-old kindergarten.

Other Information About Four-Year-Old Kindergarten


Lessons Learned from Community Approaches

More and more school districts are taking community approaches to four-year-old kindergarten by offering the program in an array of settings including schools, childcare, and HeadStart. The following links will help you learn more about these approaches.

Get Acrobat Reader

For questions about this information, contact Jill Haglund (608) 267-9625