No golden rule to start school

When to be­gin the jour­ney is unique to each child

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - with greg whitby Greg Whitby is the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of schools at the Catholic Dio­cese of Par­ra­matta. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @greg­whitby

ONE of the most of­ten asked ques­tions, es­pe­cially from first-time par­ents, is: “When is the right time to send my child to school?”

It is one of the big­gest de­ci­sions that a par­ent will have to make.

Ev­ery­one has a view on this, of­ten shared in con­ver­sa­tions in carparks, at week­end sport­ing events or over cof­fee.

The golden rule is not so spe­cific.

There is no one size that fits all.

Every fam­ily is dif­fer­ent, every child is dif­fer­ent, every school is dif­fer­ent.

In NSW, chil­dren can start kinder­garten at the begin­ning of the school year if they turn five on or be­fore July 31 in that same year.

All chil­dren, though, must be en­rolled in an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion by the time they turn six years of age.

While it can be helpful to seek ad­vice from those we know and trust, the start­ing point for know­ing if your child is ready to tran­si­tion to kinder­garten should al­ways be your own un­der­stand­ing of your child.

Most par­ents un­der­stand their child’s strengths and needs.

Preschools and day­care cen­tres can pro­vide feed­back in ar­eas that will have an im­pact on a child’s readi­ness and ma­tu­rity for their school ca­reer.

Schools also share the re- spon­si­bil­ity of pre­par­ing to meet each child where he or she is at.

That can be in terms of so­cially, emo­tion­ally, phys­i­cally and aca­dem­i­cally.

Re­search shows that the tran­si­tion to school is greatly in­flu­enced by the will­ing­ness of schools to see each child as a re­source­ful and ca­pa­ble learner.

One way of es­tab­lish­ing those rich re­la­tion­ships is by bring­ing your child to the in­ter­view and to the school open days.

This is ben­e­fi­cial as it helps the child to get a feel for the new en­vi­ron­ment they will be go­ing into, and to ask ques­tions and quell any con­cerns they may have.

But it also pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for you to see how stu­dent and par­ent and school part­ner­ships are nur­tured and how those learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences are cre­ated and built upon.

At the end of the day, there is no sim­ple test or tu­tor­ing pro­gram that will an­swer the ques­tion of when a child is ready for school.

Schools are in the busi­ness of learn­ing, so you should seek their ad­vice, but re­mem­ber that par­ents are the best ad­vo­cates for their chil­dren.

The more pre­pared you are to dis­cuss your child’s needs, the bet­ter the schools will able to sup­port them on their learn­ing jour­ney – to pre­pare them for life af­ter school. ››

‘‘ The more pre­pared you are to dis­cuss your child’s needs, the bet­ter schools will able to sup­port them

Be­ing school-ready is a com­bi­na­tion of many fac­tors, but largely it is de­pen­dent on whether the in­di­vid­ual child is ready or not.

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