Is your child ready for school?

Author: Erin Gray   Date Posted:26 June 2017 


When Is Your Child Ready For School?

Depending on your child’s birthdate and where you live, you may be in the position to choose which year your child starts school (or begins the curriculum, if you are home-educating).

There is so much talk around school readiness and when to start your child in primary school. Different people have different opinions and it can be overwhelming, trying to weigh what everyone else tells you, with what you believe and the abilities of your child.

At the end of the day, you know your child best and the decision is yours, but we thought it might be useful to give you some information about how the experts judge school readiness and how the different states and territories in Australia approach the enrolment cut-off for the first year of school.

Firstly, let’s get an idea of where Australia sits with the rest of the world. In most parts of Australia, all children must be enrolled in school by their 6th birthday. So basically, this means that the starting age is 5.

Many parents (depending on their child, (their abilities and their birthday) and on the state/territory in which they live) do actually start their children at 4. My son is a March baby, so he could have started school this year, when he was 4, but we chose to wait until he is 5, so he will begin school in 2017. He will always be one of the older children in his class, but this is what worked for us.

The vast majority of countries around the world have older starting ages than Australia. In the U.S, Spain, Russia, China, Japan, France and Germany (and many others) the starting age is 6 and in Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Denmark and many others, the starting age is 7.

So already, Australia has one of the younger starting ages; something you might want to take into consideration.

The other factor you need to know is the cut-offs for your state or territory, so here they are:

Australia Capital Territory – Your child must turn 5 by April 30th of the year they are to be enrolled.

New South Wales – Your child must turn 5 by July 31st of the year they are to be enrolled.

Northern Territory – Your child can enter a non-compulsory transition year if they turn 5 by June 30th of that year. To enter Year 1 (which is compulsory) they must turn 6 before June 30th of that year.

Queensland – from 2017 Prep is compulsory and your child must turn 5 by June 30th of the year they are to be enrolled.

South Australia – Your child must turn 5 before May 1st of the year they are to be enrolled.

Tasmania – Your child must be 5 by or on January 1st of the year they are to be enrolled. There is currently a proposed change to July 1st.

Victoria – Your child must turn 5 by April 30th of the year they are to be enrolled.

Western Australia – Your child must turn 5 by June 30th of the year they are to be enrolled.

Now that you know the legal requirements, let’s look at some of the factors the experts take into consideration when determining whether or not a child is ready to begin school.

These factors fall into 4 main categories:

Physical Health and Wellbeing

  • Are they well rested and generally healthy?
  • Can they use the toilet on their own?
  • Can they wipe their nose when they need to?
  • Can they dress themselves?
  • Can they build with blocks?
  • Can they maintain focus on a given task?

Social Competence –

  • Do they get along with others?
  • Can they build friendships?
  • Can they cope with change?
  • Can they play with others?
  • Can they play on their own?
  • Can they work with others?
  • Can they work on their own?

Emotional Maturity –

  • Can they self-manage their emotions or do they still throw massive tantrums?
  • Can they cope with less adult direction or attention?
  • Can they develop balanced friendships and relationships with others?
  • Can they separate from parents/caregivers?

Communication Skills and General Knowledge –

  • Can they hold a basic conversation?
  • Do they use their manners?
  • Can they communicate their needs?
  • Do they have some understanding of the wider world around them?

These questions are not a checklist, just a general guide as to readiness. Don’t stress if your child isn’t ticking every box, so to speak, just use them in broad sense to give you a little more insight as to how your child’s pre-school teacher may be forming their own judgements or reaching their own conclusions.

As I said above, the decision on when to start your child at school (and by this I am also talking about those who are home educating) is ultimately up to you and your own personal situation may well dictate your decision. However, there is one piece of advice I would like to give: Kathy Walker, educational consultant and early childhood expert, advises:

“Don’t send a child to school already thinking they can repeat if they have to. You want the first year of school to be exciting and successful, not just one where the child attempts to ‘cope’ and then has to do it all again.”

So, consider all the information above, consider your child and their needs, abilities and personality and then make the decision that works best for you. When it comes to your child, you really are the expert!



Sunshine Collective Who are We Photo

Our teacher designed activities for kids came about when our kids started primary school. We were looking for resources to make learning fun – not boring or daunting. So, we thought there were probably a whole lot of other kids (and let’s face it, parents) who were crying out for something like this . . . and that’s when The Sunshine Collective was born. We know how frustrating it is for parents who just want to understand what their kids are learning at school or how to help them prepare for starting school and are trying to find some way of making it easier for them. Brilliant Boxes make this stuff fun for kids and easy for parents. We have Brilliant Boxes for pre-schoolers and for each year of primary school. Each box contains a minimum of 14 hands-on, fun activities to directly support the Australian Primary School curriculum. We understand that different children learn in different ways and that’s why Brilliant Boxes cater for a whole range of learning styles.





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