The NEW age rule for elementary


I read it before, but I missed the year change…

As far as US participants are concerned, the GDC has made elementary through 6th grade, and shortened middle school to two years of eligibility.

I will probably have a dozen seventh graders that will qualify as elementary school students, and almost all of my 6th graders would be elementary school students. It seems like they are encouraging the kids to “play up,” but is this really their intention?

I’m in a 6-8 middle school. Given the month old version of the rule, only a few of my 6th graders would have been “elementary students” and would have no impact in my program. Now, given that I’m sixth grade heavy, Almost half of my students will be “elementary students.”

How are the rest of you going to approach this? Practically speaking, a lot of elementary teams will stay elementary for an additional year, and middle school will be a two year program. But what about the 6-8 schools? Are you going to play your 6th grade teams as elementary?


Considering that there are separate teams by grade level, yes, I would play the 6th graders as Elementary students. However, the teams should be mixed, grade-wise (my preference).

There are going to be lots of seventh graders playing in Middle School. Roughly 2/3 of seventh graders will now be Elementary. (And if any sixth graders are middle, they are very old for their grade). This means that my team with kindergartners and first graders will be playing against seventh graders at state. It is going to be interesting! I, personally, am going to list my seventh grader, with his sixth grade teammates as a middle school team, although, according to the age rules, the team could be an elementary team. I know that they made this change to appease the sixth graders in Elementary school. But, I personally, don’t like the change.


We’re also seeing majority of our sixth graders and some seventh graders be Elementary. It will likely reduce the pool of kids that we’ll have for Middle School teams across the teams in our area, reducing Middle School team numbers and swell the Elementary numbers.

We’ll see many teams put their kids in the division they’re eligible for, with 12 year old students competing against 4 graders. This will impact the experience of the younger students that we’re trying to get interested and encourage.

We had already had a lot of complaints from younger teams two years ago in our area when we ran only ran Blended events. Everyone (older and younger students) had a more positive experience when we split the events into Ages Divisions, giving the younger students to better thrive with similar ages.


This is not guess, we got actual birth dates from our team application forms. The results were surprising, nearly all of sixth grade is elementary. We have seventh graders that would only have one year to compete in Middle School in their 8th grade year.

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I would say if you want your teams to be MS teams then mix the teams so they qualify as MS. Perhaps the RECF won’t even frown on teams that meet the criteria for “elementary” registering and playing as MS teams (possibly still an open question). Personally I wouldn’t have a problem seeing teams “play up” as long as they register that way from the beginning of the season.

I’m excited for this welcome rule revision. In our case, with the original rule, we would have had 5th graders mixed with 6th graders forming a MS team. Those MS teams would be playing against 7th, 8th, and in some cases 9th graders. The scenario of 5th grade students playing against 9th grade students just wasn’t attractive at all.

As far as I can tell right now, we might only have 1 student out of 100 that is in 6th grade and meets the definition of a MS student. We will make our events we host mixed events, and we’ll send that one team to the MS state championship if they qualify. I’ve got no problem with all of that, from our perspective this is all MUCH better than what it was before.

What do you consider more grievous? Fifth graders competing against ninth graders? Or first graders competing against seventh graders? I don’t know the answer, I know that my sons team is going to play up, not because it’s easier, but because I believe it’s right.


What do you consider more grievous? Fifth graders competing against ninth graders? Or first graders competing against seventh graders? [/quote]

Occasionally parents ask if we have a program for students younger than 4th grade. I tell them to purchase their kid a Hex Bug Robotics kit and just let them have fun building.


Original Age Rule Change
Elementary - Any Student born after May 1, 2008
(11 years old before Worlds)

Upcoming Age Rule Change - link
Elementary - Any Student born after May 1, 2007
(12 years old before Worlds)

The original proposed rule would have been ages 12, 13 or 14 in Middle School. It would not have been all 9th graders, only allowing 9th graders that were 14 years old before May 1st.

Now we have a Middle School division of 13 & 14 year old students (only two years!). And now we have a Elementary division of 12, 11, 10, and 9 year old students.

This is at minimum equivalently as bad as your example of 5th competing against 9th in Middle School, you’ve only pushed your example into Elementary. In my opinion, with 4th graders vs 7th graders, is worse because younger students are only emerging in their skills sets.

Question: In the original rule, why wouldn’t have your students that were 11 years old (and lower) competed on an Elementary team and your students that were 12 (and older) competed on a Middle School team. Did we only have 3 students, forcing you to create a single team?

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I don’t see a problem here. The change was made to accommodate school districts that have grades 1-6 in elementary and grades 7-8 in middle school. I think it’s more natural for those 6th graders to play with their elementary school peers.

If you’re in a school district that is split 1-5 & 6-8, you can choose to have the 6th graders “play up” and join their peers in the middle school division. The rule seems to be less restrictive than it was before and allows you to choose where the natural fit is for your 6th graders.


As a community team, not associated with any school but having students from schools with different “middle school” grades, and many homeschool students, I think the new age-based definition is great.

Homeschool students are often in several “grades” at the same time, for example, a math whiz could be doing 9th or 10th grade math and science, while doing 8th grade in other subjects. I always had to coach my own (homeschooled) kids to tell people what “grade” they were in based on their age, so they wouldn’t have to try and explain.

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@kmmohn, Definitely agree, ‘Age’ instead of ‘Grade’ makes a lot of sense.

When the Squared Away manual was originally released last month, it had the date for Elementary at ‘Any Student born after May 1, 2008’. An upcoming manual update is likely going to change that to ‘Elementary - Any Student born after May 1, 2007’.

This takes a year from MS and moves it to Elementary, limiting MS to two years of students (May 1st 2005 to May 1st 2007).

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All but one of the events we host are combined ES/MS, so the rule change won’t really affect the number and type of events our teams play. Unless you go to an ES-only event, young kids still have to compete against older MS kids. I think the age-based change has more (positive) effect on VRC for MS-only events, so that the young MS VRC students aren’t playing against 9th-grade HS students who were able to play at the MS level from the old rules.

@gbr Where are you getting this info from?

@alb4h Current information is in the Q&A until the manual is updated.

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Do you have any data on how many 6th grade teams competed in elementary?

If “most” of the teams of 6th graders were middle school teams, then 1/3 of middle school teams (6th, 7th and 8th graders) could then compete in elementary instead.

But your “elementary excellence” awards will probably go toward the more experienced, order players. You are correct in that most of the implication will be at the state / WORLDS level where they are divided.

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The original Age update is in the current Game Manual:


The upcoming change is detailed in the link that @kmmohn mentioned:

Our middle schools are also 6 - 8 grade. Will the 6th grade students that participated on a Middle School team this past season, only be allowed one additional season on a middle school team? This would not seem right. If not, then the two year limit on middle school students would have to be waived.

Thank you! I hadn’t seen the Q&A.

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The definition of MS is based purely on birthdate, not on how many seasons they play on a MS team.

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