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Should you send your child to school or hold your child back?
Child Psychologists at Kids First Children’s Services in Sydney’s northern beaches explain the legal age at which your child can start Kindergarten in NSW.
Many parents we work with in schools and private practice are confused about the cut–off dates for children as they start Kindergarten.
Sometimes, they have heard varying stories from neighbours, friends and family.
Often, they have not been educated in NSW and are unfamiliar with the regulations that government the age by which their child should be enrolled in Kindergarten.
Starting school in NSW – The facts
- By law, all children in NSW must be enrolled in school by the time they turn 6.
- If your child turns 5 on or before July 31 in that year, they may start school at the beginning of that school year (typically this is in late January and yes, this does mean that your child will not yet have turned 5)
- If your child turns 5 after July 31, they will need to wait until the following year before they can start Kindergarten. (this means that your child might be 5, 5 ½ or 6, depending on when their birthday falls)
This means that there can be an 18 month age range among children who are in your child’s Kindergarten class. Some children will not yet have turned 5 and other children will already be 5 and turning 6 that year.
There are very few exceptions to the rule, and even though you might feel strongly about your sensitive child’s lack of school readiness, the rules are rarely, if ever, bent.
There are some exceptions, however, and these are most commonly for children with additional learning needs.
If your child has been formally identified as being Intellectually Gifted and Talented, you can apply for Early Entry (acceleration into school). You will be asked to submit assessment documentation and other evidence to support your child’s application for accelerated enrolment on the basis of their identified superior intellectual functioning, academic readiness and social-emotional maturity.
Your child will need to have been assessed by an educational and developmental psychologist within the past 12 months. When making decisions on Early Entry applications, judgements are usually based on research which suggests that, for successful outcomes, a child should be within six months of the approved entry age. (That is, your child will be more likely to be accepted for Early Entry to Kindergarten if he or she is at least 4 years of age when school starts.)
Fact sheet – Early Entry for Gifted Children
Download the full details of the NSW Department of Education and Communities’ Early Entry provisions for Gifted and Talented students and an application form here
Children with Disabilities or major health issues
Sometimes, a child’s health, learning or social needs or disability might give them eligibility for an exemption from starting school by the time they turn 6. There are still, however, very strict rules about how delayed enrolment applications are processed.
Usually, enrolment exceptions are approved on the proviso that a child will be enrolled in a full-time school environment no later than 6 months after their sixth birthday.
Delayed enrolment for children with disabilities is also usually dependent on a child’s participation in a full or part-time transition to school program for children with special needs.
If you are considering making an application for delayed enrolment for your special needs child, you will need to submit assessment and diagnostic documentation from health and medical specialists that is no more than 12 months old. It is wise to commence this process early in the year (that is, by June at the latest) before your child would usually commence school.
If your child’s sixth birthday is later than October of the previous year, enrolment in a full-time preschool education at an accredited preschool for the remainder of the school year can also be criteria for a delayed enrolment application for Kindergarten.
Fact sheet – Enrolment exemptions
The NSW Department of Education and Communities provides full details of enrolment exemptions provisions and an application form in a document that you can download here
If you are concerned about your child’s enrolment in Kindergarten, Kids First’s psychologists can help.
Contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your child’s learning, social or emotional needs.
Our psychologists are fully qualified and have years of experience in NSW schools. They can provide Educational and Cognitive assessments prior to your child’s entry to school that can be used in enrolment applications.
They can also assist with advice and information about your child’s schooling.
Call Kids First on (02) 9938 5419 or make an on-line enquiry here.