Should they stay or should they go? When to send your child to kindergarten

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Is it still 2020?

Not even five months in and it’s already been the longest year of my life.

So much has happened in those five months, that it can be difficult to remember that life will go on after all this. To remember that things will return to normal (even if that is a slightly ‘new normal’) and that in just 7 months’ time when the worst of this is behind us, a new batch of kindy kids will start their learning journey.

Schools are beginning to take enrolments for 2021 (a welcome reminder that a more familiar world is on its way), raising once again the question of when a child is ready to start school.

The decision of whether or not your child is ready for school is one only parents can make. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

We know there is no one-size fits all solution. We know that every child is different and that decision on whether or not your child is ready for school is one only parents can make.

You know your child better than anyone.

You know your child better than anyone.

And with so much change happening and anxiety thick in the air, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking; is my kid really ready for school next year? Maybe just one more at home.

If it’s a question that you can’t quite work out, don’t worry. You aren’t alone. Psychologist Dr Amanda Mergler from the School of Early Childhood at Queensland University of Technology conducted a study in 2017 which found that there are plenty of parents struggling with the decision.

The NSW department of education says that children can start kindergarten at the beginning of the school year if they are five years old, or it they turn five, on or before 31 July that year; leaving in entirely up to parents for children born in the first seven months of the year.

Parenting expert and education consultant Kathy Walker has said that if there is uncertainty about a child’s readiness for school, that parents should be provided with the option of keeping their children at home.

“Starting school should not be like hopping onto a conveyor belt as soon as you can hop, and getting off as early as you can,” said Kathy.

“Starting school should not be like hopping onto a conveyor belt as soon as you can hop, and getting off as early as you can”

“Starting school, as part of being educated, is a journey that needs special preparation, care, and should be a wonderful time where one can make the most of the opportunities.”

As I said before, you know your child better than anyone, and it’s a decision that only parents can make, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for advice.

As Tony Farley, Sydney Catholic Schools executive director says, the teachers at SCS are there to help you and your child.

“Wellbeing is a priority in all of our schools, helping to ensure that your child is nurtured and supported to enable success to be achieved,” he said.

“Your local school staff can explain about school life and how access to the curriculum can be differentiated to meet the needs of your child.”

Primary students discuss the rosary prayer
“Starting school should not be like hopping onto a conveyor belt as soon as you can hop, and getting off as early as you can” PHOTO: Alphonsus Fok

Deciding when to start your child at school can be a difficult decision, every parent has some anxiety when making it, but there is plenty of help from schools on offer. Parents can talk with each other and the teachers at their local school and trust that everyone involved wants the best for your child.