Deciding if your child is old enough

Individual decision: Different studies have shown contradictory results when it comes to determining the best age to start. Photo: Shutterstock.
Individual decision: Different studies have shown contradictory results when it comes to determining the best age to start. Photo: Shutterstock.

In situations where parents are allowed to keep their child in play-based learning for another year, most are still choosing to move them up into formal education (kindy or prep). 

Whilst still very much the minority, a slowly-increasing number of Aussie parents are choosing to wait until their child has reached the oldest age they are allowed to start. 

There have been many studies into what is the best decision, with many governments also interested in what age they should pass into legislation. As a collective, the findings indicate that it is more about whether the individual child was ready.

Even using entire countries as case studies still provides contradictory results.

There are many reasons for the discrepancies in the findings. It really depends on what later age the children are assessed, and who they are compared to.

Looking at late primary years, some studies suggest that delaying the switch to formal education is academically beneficial.

However, exercising a bit of patience to look for differences late in high school have shown mixed results. Some studies show no difference, while some say that younger senior students are more stressed, and yet others show younger students do better academically. 

IS YOUR CHILD READY?

What matters most is making the right choice for your child, and ensuring they have all the academic and emotional support they need through all stages of their schooling.

Most importantly, make sure they are emotionally ready for the experience of school.

  • Can they concentrate for 20 minutes at a time?
  • Can they look after themselves through the day (with regards to dressing, eating and going to the toilet)?
  • Can they make their needs known to the school staff (preferably at the appropriate times)?
  • Can they keep track of their possessions such as their hat, jumper, lunch box and pencil case?
  • Can they co-exist with other students and make friends?

If the answers to all of these is yes then they should be ready to start.