Age starting school: School starting age, primary school by country, around the world
What year should children start school? We asked the experts | Marianne Fenech, Sarah Ayoub, Ben Edwards and Pasi Sahlberg
On Tuesday the New South Wales education minister, Sarah Mitchell, said lifting the school starting age to the year a child turns six would reduce large age gaps and put students on a more equal footing. It follows an announcement in June that NSW and Victoria would overhaul the early education sector, effectively adding an extra year. Four experts explain the advantages and challenges of such changes:
‘Affordability remains a key barrier’
The NSW government’s proposal to lift the school starting age to the year a child turns six has potential to benefit children but it will only work if the longstanding workforce crisis – exacerbated by Covid – is addressed.
I appreciate the intent to reduce the discrepancy in ages and abilities of children when they start school. This is an incredible challenge for kindergarten teachers, particularly when we know that families send their children to school before they are ready because school is more affordable than childcare. And we know this is a problem because one in five children are starting school developmentally vulnerable.
Children effectively attending for an additional year (the year they turn five) will only benefit if the service they are attending is providing quality early learning programs.
The workforce crisis poses a significant threat to the quality of early education. Enrolments in early childhood teacher education course are declining and many early teachers choose to leave early childhood to work in a school where they can earn up to $30,000 more a year.
The sector already needs an extra 7,000 early childhood teachers by 2024 if services are to meet regulatory requirements. The proposal has the potential to increase demand but from where the quality early childhood teacher workforce will come remains unclear.
We need to think carefully about what such a proposal will mean for children in families experiencing disadvantage. We know that the children who stand to benefit most from attending a quality early education service are also the least likely to attend, even if they are enrolled. Affordability remains a key barrier.
The NSW initiatives to improve children’s access to early education are welcome. But as these polices are rolled out the state government will need to ensure that not only are more children attending early learning services, but that the quality of these services is of the standard children need and deserve.
Assoc Prof Marianne Fenech is program director for early education at the University of Sydney and chair of the Australian Early Childhood Teacher Education Network
‘Parents must have the opportunity to decide’
I have three children who are vastly different in terms of their learning styles, skills and interests. My eldest knew her alphabet at 18 months old and was reading short picture books at four, and four years on she’s flourishing as one of the top students in her grade despite being born one day short of the cut-off. Holding her back, I believe, would have been detrimental to her potential. By contrast, my son will start school unable to identify more than a handful of letters despite the extensive efforts of both his parents and the staff at his preschool.
I believe parents must have the opportunity to decide for themselves (within reason) the path that is right for their child. Of course, this all depends on what the government’s plan will actually look like for families, because at present the details are far from clear.
While I understand the merits of raising the starting school age so more children are on an even footing when they begin, the reality is that no matter how they begin, the educational experiences of our children will never be equal. The difference in funding between public schools and private schools, the mass tutoring uptake by some families and the fact that some teachers are burnt-out and some families – due to work commitments or language/cultural barriers – can’t help their kids with homework will entrench inevitable differences.
If the government plans to fund this program in its entirety, then it’s a conversation I’m willing to have. But having a child starting school is liberating for parents who are juggling care and work duties, often with workplaces who are not as progressive as they could be in terms of flexible working arrangements. The cost of childcare, which hits families hard without the added burdens of inflation and rising interest rates, must be addressed if we are planning on keeping our kids away from school another year. I have always firmly believed that the best place for the child is their family or their “village”, but life is less and less like a village these days and the fact that it is mostly disadvantaged families who send their kids to school before they’re ready because it saves childcare costs and frees parents up to work tells us that are there more pressing matters the state ought to address to even out our children’s lives. A lack of equality has a ripple effect.
Sarah Ayoub is a journalist, academic and author of books for young adults and children
‘This could reduce the wide age ranges in the classroom’
NSW students have some of the highest rates of delayed entrants in the world. Our research suggests 25% of students start school in the year after they are eligible and, for those parents who have a choice in the matter (who have children born between January and July), 44% are delayed. As a consequence, children range in ages from four and a half to six in the first year of school. Children starting school at younger ages have lower levels of school readiness than older children and more socioeconomically advantaged parents are more likely to choose to delay, thus widening gaps in school readiness by socioeconomic status.
Will raising the school age reduce these gaps? For many parents, having older children may mean that they are more likely to send their child to school on time. If the NSW government also reduces the opportunity to delay school start (from between January and July to, say, January and April, as in Victoria), this could reduce the wide age ranges in the classroom.
Ben Edwards is associate professor of child and youth development at the Australian National University
‘Early childhood education in NSW works as an un-equaliser’
Moving the school starting age to the year a child turns six is a great improvement to the situation in NSW but only if the government will keep its early promise to provide universal free public early childhood education (kindergarten) to all five-year-olds.
Lifting the school starting age is part of much larger effort to improve lives of children in NSW. Research examining the benefits of starting formal schooling earlier is not consistent.Early childhood education in NSW works as an “un-equaliser” because it gives children from affluent and disadvantaged families very different conditions. If the NSW government goes about these changes the right way, they may act as much-needed improvements in educational equity.
I would suggest the following three things be important in putting these reforms into practice.
First, early childhood education (including primary school) needs to be designed in terms of a child’s rights. Play, wellbeing and whole-child development should be the key principles.
Second, every five-year-old should have the right to attend a high-quality public preschool. It should be the government’s responsibility to make sure this right is protected, and that well-educated teachers and educators are working in every school.
Third, the first years of primary school should be redesigned so that they provide a seamless, play-based transition from early childhood education. This design should consider children’s individual differences, focus on learning and wellbeing, and avoid unnecessary assessments and tests.
Most importantly, lifting the school starting age to six should not mean that the first years of primary school become a time to catch up on academic content children were supposed to learn before.
This proposal by the NSW government is a real opportunity to redesign the educational pathway of every child to improve not just lifelong learning but also to remove the burden placed on many parents who want nothing more than to give their children the best education they can have.
Pasi Sahlberg is professor of education at Southern Cross University
Starting primary school in Victoria
The law in Victoria states that children must attend school from the age of 6. To enrol in government school, a child must turn 5 before 30 April of the year they start school.
There can be exemptions to the age policy, but these are very rare. For more information on school admission and the law, see the Department of Education’s School Policy and Advisory GuideExternal Link.
1. Choose your school
In Victoria, there are 2 main types of schools:
- Government (or ‘public’) schools, administered by the Department of Education
- Non-government (or ‘Independent’) schools, which includes private schools and religious schools
Understanding the different types of schools can help you decide which school is right for you and your child. For children with disability or additional needs, this may be a mainstream government school or a specialist government school. For more information, visit Starting school for children with disability.
To learn more about Catholic schools, visit Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic SchoolsExternal Link. For more information about independent schools, visit Independent Schools VictoriaExternal Link.
For information about home schooling, visit home schooling.
The following information covers government primary school enrolment. If you wish for your child to attend a non-government primary school, please contact individual non-government schools for their enrolment processes.
Your child has a right to enrol at their local school. This right is set out in the Education and Training Reform Act 2006. Your child must be offered a place at your local school if they live within the school zone.
For more information, visit school zones.
You also have the choice to seek enrolment at a school that is not your local school. All students who seek enrolment in a school outside of their zone should be enrolled if there is sufficient accommodation at the school.
You can find your local school and other government schools in your area at Find My SchoolExternal Link.
The Find my School website is the official and most up to date source of school zone maps in Victoria. All government primary, secondary and specialist schools are on Find my School.
For more information, visit school zones.
Contact your local school and any other schools you are considering before you submit an application.
Schools welcome enquiries and will organise a time for you and your child to visit. Staff can provide tours, classroom visits and further information about their school.
Schools can also indicate if they have spare places for students who do not live within the school zone.
2. Enrol your child
If you are seeking to enrol your child in a government primary school, you should read about the statewide timeline for enrolling in Foundation (Prep).
The timeline advises when and how to enrol your child in the first year of primary school at a Victorian government school.
If you are a parent or carer of a child with disability, you may need to discuss reasonable adjustments with your school.
You will be required to provide the following information and documentation:
- Evidence of identity and date of birth (for example, a birth certificateExternal Link or passport)
- Immunisation History StatementExternal Link
- your contact details
- emergency contact details
- health information about your child (such as allergies or illnesses they need to manage)
- other legal orders relating to your child and their welfare
Many schools offer before and after school care. It is recommended that you organise this in advance of starting school.
The Child Care SubsidyExternal Link may be used to help pay for before and after school care for children under 13.
Some schools do not offer before and after school care, or they may not have spaces available. Other options can include things like Family Day Care. If you need help to find child care, you can use the government’s Child Care FinderExternal Link.
3. Pay costs
Government schools in Victoria do not have fees. You are not required to make payments or voluntary financial contributions to your school.
For more information, see government school costs.
Some types of international students must enrol in the International Student Program and pay fees. For more information, see the Victorian Government Schools International Student ProgramExternal Link.
The cost of uniforms varies from school to school, and there are many ways to get these. Popular ways include:
- Getting them from school – often, your school will have a uniform shop where uniform items can be bought.
- Buying them from shops – many schools have school colours and items such as shorts and polo shirts can be purchased at major clothing retailers.
- Getting them second-hand – some parents find it useful to join local community groups online and source second-hand items, or contact second-hand clothing shops to see if they have any items.
Your school should provide a list of the items your child will need for the first day of school.
These can also be sourced from school or, using a list provided by school, purchased at major retailers.
If your child will be using public transport to get to and from school, there are concession Myki cards available. Find information about school students using public transportExternal Link on the Public Transport Victoria website.
You can also access travel support if:
- you’re in regional or rural Victoria
- your child has a disability or additional needs.
If you are having trouble paying school costs, assistance may be available. Visit help with school costs and fees for options and advice.
- State Schools ReliefExternal Link offers assistance to school children in need of basic clothing and footwear.
- ASIC’s budget plannerExternal Link can help with creating a budget.
- NDISExternal Link offers a range of assistance relating to education for children with disability.
4. Plan and prepare
Starting school is a big change for a child. Helping your child to understand what is happening can reduce stress and fear on their part. Many children will be excited to start school and making sure they know what will happen on the first day is important. Be positive and enthusiastic – your child is more likely to look forward to starting school if you’re positive about it.
Preparation for your child can include:
- transition plans from your kinder or childcare
- attending school orientation sessions for new students and for parents and carers
- attending school community events like fetes and concerts
- taking your child with you to get their uniform and school supplies
- practising the journey to and from school, including where you will meet your child:
- If you plan to use public transport, PTV’s Journey PlannerExternal Link can help find the best route for you.
- Some schools offer a school bus service, and the government has a school bus programExternal Link for rural and regional schools
- connecting with ‘buddies’ or other children from your child’s childcare, kinder or play groups who will be starting school at the same time.
The Better Health Channel’s Healthy start to school guideExternal Link offers a lot of great tips.
When your child starts school, it can be a sensitive time for you, too. Talking to friends and family can help but, if you need extra support, there is assistance available.
Government support services include:
- Your general practitioner (GP) – you can search for doctors who offer bulk billingExternal Link or contact a community health centreExternal Link near you
- Mental health care planExternal Link, which entitles you to up to 10 appointments with an allied mental health services professional.
- The Better Health Channel’s Healthy mind sectionExternal Link, which has many helpful ideas on ways to process this change in your life.
5. Start school
6. Attend school
The first term of school can have some challenges. Sometimes children can get very tired as they adjust to their new routine. If possible, minimising after school activities at the beginning of term can help children to avoid becoming overtired and emotional.
Sometimes children who have not been around large groups of people before can get sick a lot. The Better Health Channel has information on common childhood illnesses including:
- school soresExternal Link (impetigo)
- headliceExternal Link (nits)
- slapped cheek diseaseExternal Link
- gastroenteritisExternal Link (stomach flu)
- fluExternal Link
- hand foot and mouth diseaseExternal Link
The Victorian government’s Smile SquadExternal Link offers free dental for all Victorian public school students.
If your child needs glasses, Glasses for Kids may be able to help. The initiative provides prep to Year 3 children in Victoria’s most disadvantaged areas with vision screening and, if required, follow up eye testing and glasses.
If you feel your child is not learning at the right level, your first step should be to talk to their teacher. You may also wish to discuss things with your family doctor.
For children with disability or additional needs, support is also available.
You can make sure you are up to date about your child’s learning through:
- Regular contact with your child’s teacher or principal.
- Chatting with your child and helping with homework or reading.
- Parent-teacher conferences and school reports.
Occasionally, children will have issues with things like settling in, making friends and getting used to school life.
Stay in touch with your school’s teachers and principal if you are concerned about how your child is settling into school.
If you are worried your child is being bullied, help is available. Get more information from:
- Bully stoppers
- Bullying advice sheetsExternal Link at the Department of Education
The Victorian Government takes a firm stance against bullying. Your first point of contact for complaints should always be the school but if you feel you are not being supported, you are free to make a complaint to the Department of Education.
It’s important to know the dates of the school holidays so you can prepare. Child Care SubsidyExternal Link may be used to help pay for school holiday programs.
Your school should also provide a list of Teacher Only days or other days when they are not open. Make sure to note these in your diary and organise alternative child care if required.
Reviewed 15 February 2023
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Advice for school applicants – Secondary school No. 186
Entering school is a very serious event for every child. At the same time, one quickly and easily adapts to new conditions, while for the other, changes in the usual rhythm of life are very difficult. What does it depend on? Psychological readiness for schooling plays an important role here. If you have a preschool child who is about to become a student, check how ready he is for this. And our article will help you with this.
A bit of theory
Psychological readiness for school is the readiness of a child to accept a new social situation and follow its rules. He strives to perform a new, “adult” activity, to enter a new system of relations. To do this, the internal position of the child must change, which will allow him to readily perform school tasks and subordinate his behavior to the rules.
If you send a child to school before he is ready for this, then this will lead to the fact that he does not adapt well to new conditions. Psychological unpreparedness can be expressed in:
In most cases, at the age of seven, a child is ready to become an apprentice. However, each small person is individual, and therefore age is not always an indicator of psychological readiness for learning. To avoid the above manifestations and protect the child from stress, before entering school, it is necessary to check whether he is ready for a new social situation.
Checking if a child is ready for schooling
Observations and research by psychologists and educators have helped to identify criteria by which one can judge whether a child is ready to sit down at a desk. Parents of preschoolers can seek advice from a specialist or solve this issue for themselves by observing their child and giving him a few simple tasks.
The following manifestations will indicate psychological readiness to change social status:
It looks like this guy is ready not only to go to school, but also to work. Photo source
Also pay attention to how your child communicates with you and with other adults. Preschoolers who have crossed a certain threshold, behind which lies the ability to quickly and easily adapt to schooling, can already understand contextual communication. Those. they cease to treat all adults equally, they comprehend formal communication, they can understand not only the direct, unambiguous, but also the figurative meaning of speech. In a certain sense, older preschoolers are deprived of childish spontaneity, which makes it easier to adapt to school.
Observation is very important, but not the only way to determine if a child is ready for school. Here it is also necessary to understand at what level of development cognitive processes (attention, memory, thinking) and fine motor skills are. For this, there are some tasks.
Draw a man
You need to ask the child to draw a man (uncle) and evaluate this drawing. At the same time, in the process of drawing, you do not need to give the baby advice, correct him and help him. If the drawn character has all the necessary components (head, torso, neck, limbs, etc.) that smoothly connect to each other, and he has elements of men’s clothing, then this indicates a high level of development of motor skills and other skills. The fewer elements a drawing has, the less synthetic it is (for example, the arms are “attached” to the body, and do not come out of it) and the more primitive (many straight lines, scribbles are present, there is no detailed drawing), the less developed skills and, therefore, the child is not yet sufficiently prepared for school.
You can give your child a phrase of different characters (for example, a sentence that includes Russian and English words) or 10 dots equally spaced and ask them to copy. The maximum proximity to the model, the ability to keep the line and keep the distance indicate the readiness to start training.
Parents can come up with questions themselves. The main thing is that they relate to different aspects, and the concepts in them are familiar to the child. Here are some examples:
Questions can also concern knowledge of the seasons, time of day, the ability to determine the time by watch, etc. The better the child answers questions, the higher his readiness for learning.
Remember the words
Give the child a few words, ask them to remember them and reproduce them. After the baby does this, ask how he remembered these words. If he used mediation and logical memorization (linked words together, associated them with something / someone, etc.), then this indicates a high level of development and the ability to quickly adapt to a new social situation.
Is it possible to psychologically prepare a child for school?
If this does not help, the best thing to do is to leave the child in kindergarten, at home, or to take him to a special preparatory class for another year. In case of any doubt, you should contact a child psychologist and get his opinion. If there is no way to delay the child’s entry to school, then be understanding that at first he will not be able to follow the requirements of the school. During this period, it is very important to be patient, provide maximum help and support.
What documents are needed to enter the school in 2021?
posted March 31, 2021, 08:42
This year the rules for admission to the first class have changed. The Ministry of Education approved a new decree, which sets out the deadlines for submitting an application.
Parents of prospective first-graders must submit an application from 1 April to 30 June. The enrollment order is issued three days after the end of the admission campaign. From July 6, applications for enrollment can be submitted by those who do not belong to educational institutions by registration.
In addition, the list of documents that will be required when completing the application has changed. Another innovation – there are more ways to remotely process documents.
We will answer the most exciting questions of parents: What documents are needed to enroll in school? At what age can a child be sent to school? When does registration open? How can I find out which school my child is assigned to? Can a child be denied admission to first grade?
At what age do children go to school?
By and large, the family decides at what age it is better to send their child to the first grade. Some parents are in a hurry to send their child to school upon reaching the age of 6, while others prefer not to rush things and register the child in an educational institution at 8 years old.
The federal law “On Education in the Russian Federation” indicates the approximate age of first-graders. It says that the optimal age for starting school is from 6.5 years old and no later than 8 years old.
“Receiving primary general education in educational institutions begins when children reach the age of six years and six months in the absence of contraindications for health reasons, but no later than they reach the age of eight years,” the law on education says.
When can I apply for school?
In the past, parents of first-graders had to worry about enrolling in school in advance. As a rule, active filing of applications was carried out in the winter. This year, the admissions campaign starts on April 1st and will run until June 30th. These terms are indicated for those who will study in a school fixed by registration, as well as for those families that have a preferential right (older brothers or sisters study in this institution, a family member is employed in this institution).
The next round of school enrollment starts on 6 July. Those who do not live in the assigned area will be enrolled in vacant places. By September 5, a list of all students should be formed.
If there are no places left in the classes, the Department of Education is obliged to provide the family with assistance in placing the child in another school.
The authorities of Udmurtia believe that there will be no problems with the admission of first-graders in the region, because additional places will be created for first-graders in schools. Mayor of Izhevsk Oleg Bekmemetiev assures that there will be enough places for everyone.
“In 2021, Izhevsk schools will create 632 additional places for first-graders. There will be enough places for everyone!” the head of the city emphasized.
How do I find out which school my child is enrolled in?
Assignment of educational institutions to specific areas takes place later than March 15th. By March 25, on the official website of the city administration, on the websites of schools, regulations must be published, in which the addresses and institutions attached to them are registered. For example, on the website of Izhevsk, by clicking on the link, you can see a list of schools with address binding of microdistricts.
If you do not have Internet access, then you need to call the city’s education department or nearby schools – they have all the lists. In extreme cases, you can personally visit the institutions.
As a rule, during the period of enrollment of children in school there are hotlines. In Udmurtia, parents will be able to find out the answers to their questions by calling: 8 (800) 302-00-18 or directly to the Ministry of Education of the Republic: 8 (3412) 223-041 and Education Department of Izhevsk: 8 (3412) 41-46-56, 41-45-59.
It is worth noting that there are a number of schools that are not assigned to the territories. As a rule, these are lyceums and gymnasiums. So, in Izhevsk, eight schools will be able to teach children from all over the city. These are lyceums No. 24, 25, 82, 86 and 98, as well as schools No. 30, 32 and Linden Grove.
Meanwhile, Economics and Mathematics Lyceum No. 29 and Lyceum No. 41 accept children by registration. These lyceums last year took first place in the ranking of schools in terms of the number of graduates entering the country’s leading universities.
How do I apply to enroll my child in a school?
You can fill out and send an application to an educational institution in different ways:
- You can send the completed form to the institution’s e-mail;
- Fill out an application on the regional portal of state and municipal services. There is a website in Udmurtia: uslugi.udmurt.ru;
- Submit an application via Russian Post;
- When visiting the school in person.
It is worth noting that many parents apply through regional portals of public services. But in previous years, the load on the portals was so high that the systems could not stand it and hung up. Anticipating this situation, the authorities arranged a “practice” day for filing applications. For example, in Udmurtia, on March 25, trial testing took place on the local public services portal. Minister of Education of the Republic Svetlana Bolotnikova said that the electronic recording will open at three o’clock in the afternoon. Parents could familiarize themselves with the service in advance, practice filling out the application. All statements will be deleted later.
Do not forget that in order to enter the public services portal, you must have an account – login and password. You can register on the portal at the MFC.
What documents are needed to enroll in school in 2021?
The order of the Ministry of Education states that when enrolling a child, the following documents may be required: an application for admission, a copy of the parent’s or legal representative’s passport, a copy of the child’s birth certificate, a copy of the child’s registration document at the place of residence, a copy of the document confirming the establishment of guardianship or guardianship, a certificate from the place of work of the parent or legal representative in the presence of the right of primary admission, a copy of the conclusion of the psychological, medical and pedagogical commission.
By the way, the statement itself has also changed. Today it will be necessary to write the addresses of both parents – where they live, where they actually are. In addition, a column appeared in the application about preferential rights when entering the first grade (older children study at the same school, one of the parents works at this school). There will also be a column on the study of the native language.
Do I need a registration and medical certificate to enroll in school?
Article 43 of the Russian Constitution states that all children are required to receive an education, and this law has nothing to do with propiska. But do not forget that, first of all, children who have a residence permit are enrolled in schools. First-graders without a residence permit apply for the remaining places in the remaining schools.
The school is also not entitled to require medical certificates. You can attach a certificate of your choice to the application. By the way, testing children to determine abilities before school is also illegal.
But still, it is better to have a certificate of form 026/у-2000 with you – it also contains a vaccination schedule. This certificate is issued in polyclinics. Many children have it (they ask for it when they enter kindergarten).
Can we be denied admission to the first class?
No one has the right to refuse you, otherwise it can be interpreted as “a direct violation of the right to receive free education,” as it is written in the Constitution of the country.
If you were refused admission for no apparent reason, then you should file a complaint with the Department of Education.
Another thing is that the institution could run out of places. In such cases, you must provide another educational institution.
Who can enroll a child in the first grade, except for mom and dad?
Mom and dad of the child or legal representatives – guardians, adoptive parents can apply for and submit an application to the first grade.
Other family members or family acquaintances can only participate in the admission campaign if they have a power of attorney certified by a notary.
How do I know if my child has been accepted to school?
According to the adopted innovations, a notice of the child’s registration at school must arrive within the first three days after the end of the admission. June 30 is the last day of admission, respectively, to notify about admission to school should be in early July.