Starting kindergarten and school is a major milestone in the life of a child. Children are seen to be ready for school when they have reached the chronological age for entry as established by the state. To start primary school in Victoria, children need to turn five years of age by 30 April of the year that they start school. Children must be at school in the year that they turn six years of age – this is the compulsory school starting age. Exceptions to this can be made.
When determining ‘readiness’ for starting kindergarten and subsequently school, children who turn 4 in their kindergarten year from January 1st until April 30th, have a choice about whether to commence kindergarten in the year that their child turns 4 or delay starting kindergarten until the following year when their child turns 5. Children can only receive one year of funded kindergarten.
My child is considered ‘young’ for their kinder year level. How do I know if they are ready to start kinder?
Children born between January 1 and April 30 may be considered ‘young’ in comparison to the other children in their year level (this applies to kindergarten as well as school).
We recognise the confusion many parents face when deciding whether to send their child ‘young’ or whether they would benefit from waiting another year before attending a kindergarten program. This can be a challenging decision for families to make and we encourage them to talk to their child’s 3 year old teacher, kindergarten teacher or contact the Primary School that they are planning to attend.
When considering ‘readiness’, it is best to think carefully about when your child is likely to be ready to start school (i.e. whether they will be better off turning five or six in Prep) and therefore when is the best time for the child to be able to have an enjoyable kindergarten experience. You may want to consider some of the following: their ability to separate happily from you, their ability to undertake self- care tasks with a level of independence, do they enjoy playing with others and making new friends, and are they able to cope with longer days in an educational setting and away from home.
Can my ‘young’ child have a second year of kindergarten if they are not ready for school?
Many parents are under the false understanding that, should their child not be ready for school after one year of four year old kindergarten, that their child will automatically receive a second year of funded kinder. A child will only be eligible to receive a second year of funded kinder if they are assessed as having at least two areas of significant developmental delay that are not age related i.e. If the child is exhibiting behaviour/s that is/are deemed consistent for their ‘young’ age they will not fit the funding criteria.
To receive the funding for a second year, your child’s kinder teacher is required to meet specific requirements as outlined by the Victorian Government’s Department of Education and Training, and to identify genuine developmental delays and to complete an assessment in conjunction with an independent Preschool Field Officer, along with other relevant reports from Early Childhood Professionals.
Research suggests that children who transition to school smoothly and experience early school success tend to maintain higher levels of long term social competence and academic achievements. It is therefore important to look at whether children possess skills that promote their ability to successfully commence school, rather than look at their age.
My child knows all of their letters and numbers and will get bored if they do not start kindergarten/school?
Developing knowledge and skills in the areas of numeracy (numbers and counting) and literacy (reading and writing) are helpful, however not essential for a successful transition to school.
When considering a child’s readiness for school, families should be encouraged to make decisions based on their child’s maturity, needs, skills and interests. The development of these skills should be supported when a child is ready, and at a pace, the child can cope with.
Social development, language skills and self regulation skills are identified as crucial for school readiness, and it is highly important for children to have good social skills, strong language skills, be able to manage their emotions and behaviour and be confident learners to set strong foundations for a lifetime of learning.
If I decide to delay sending my ‘young’ child to kindergarten, what are my options?
The current recommendation is that children can access two years of three year old kindergarten prior to their funded year of 4 year old kindergarten if the family are concerned that their child is not ready for 4 year old kindergarten and school the following year. This is a recommendation that we support at Chelsea Kindergarten.
There are many options available in the community to support children and families who wish to enrol in Education and Care settings. These include long day care, occasional care, playgroups, community experiences such as library story times and time spent at home with their first ‘teachers’- parents, and will depend on individual family experiences such as working families, stay at home parents, health and well being needs etc.
Below are some resources that may be helpful:
Our local schools are listed below with some links for further information:
Chelsea Primary School – 34-44 Argyle Avenue, Chelsea
Chelsea Heights Primary School – 194 Thames Promenade, Chelsea Heights
Bonbeach Primary School – 29-63 Breeze Street, Bonbeach
Edithvale Primary School – 42-54 Edithvale Road, Edithvale
FIND MY SCHOOL ONLINE
For information about school zones and the current guidelines set by the Victorian State Government Department of Education, please refer to the following website: https://www.education.vic.gov.au/parents/going-to-school/Pages/zones-restrictions.aspx
You can also enter your residential address at https://www.findmyschool.vic.gov.au/ to find out which school is in your designated zone.