We constantly talk about ‘school readiness’ but what does it actually mean?

With the school year drawing to a close, and a new class of kids preparing to start school in 2019, the debate about when to send your child to school is on again. There’s an argument for every side. If you send them early, you’ll be extending them, if you send them later, you give them a chance to gain confidence first. It seems you just can’t win. So when is the right time to send your child to school and is it the same for everybody?

An Overwhelming Time

Starting primary school is an overwhelming time for any child, and for parents too it can be a difficult transition. ‘School readiness’ is not about academic ability necessarily, but refers instead to the knowledge, skills and behaviours children need to be able to adjust to the demands of the school environment.
Children who are school ready are:

  • Able to get along with other children
  • Able to follow instructions and directions from teachers
  • Able to cope with minimal adult contact in a large group
  • Able to speak clearly and communicate their needs
  • Able to demonstrate fine and gross motor skills like running, jumping, holding a pencil etc.
  • Able to independently go to the toilet, carry their bag and manage their belongings

More Than Just A Number

For kids born at the very start or end of the calendar year, the options are a little less flexible. If you turn 5 in December, chances are you’ll be starting school in February bang on schedule. For those born in the middle of the year however, they can start school at 4 1/2, 5/12 and in the case of some kids, 6 years of age. It really comes down to the judgement of parents.

Can you see your child heading off to school in a uniform, with a school bag and homework and responsibilities? If the answer is no, and they’re not quite at school age yet, perhaps it’s worth considering another year at pre-school to give them the best chance of success.

How did you know when it was time to send your children to school? Tell us in the comments.



  • Super keen was a good indicator of being ready.


  • THere are heaps of school readiness programs out there too.


  • We have held our son back (and will with our others too). I am a secondary teacher, and seeing the immaturity of boys compared to girls, coupled with the extensive support research has shown as to the benefits of delayed entry for children’s emotional health (both early on and in later years), we know it’s a good decision. Just this last year we have seen our first son mature greatly and know he will be ready emotionally and academically for prep at age 6.


  • My daughter started school at 4 turning 5 in march, she was very ready, my son who starts school next year will turn 6 in april, he wasnt ready and we are so happy we waited.


  • It was easy for my kids as they were both already advanced academically and they were both very social. We weren’t going to do kindy (starts at 4) but the 1st born asked to go so we said yes. The 2nd isn’t 3 yet but the kindy teacher was saying there no question to readiness.


  • I think pre school can help a lot.


  • Kids need to be ready to learn as well as to display acceptable social skills as much as possible.


  • My boy is 5 and starting school next year, at first I was worried he wouldn’t be ready but he has really shown signs that he is ready in the last 2-3 months.


  • Nice pointers, but when I look to them my daughter would never be able to go to school ! However she is 5 and has to start next year


  • Great pointers to look out for


  • My son is still a few years away, but when my nephews were younger they were showing all the signs and they absolutely love school and have since day one!


  • My son starts school next year after missing half the last term of kinder due to one bug after another kicking his butt. He’s had one hospital stay because his body just shut down and his immune system took an unbelievable hit. He might be ready emotionally and academically, but I’m not. I’m so worried they will miss an asthma attack and he’s such a good kid he doesn’t want to cause a fuss.

    • Oh you poor thing asthma is awful and it’s hard to trust someone else who doesn’t know your child and the signs to look after them. Good luck I’m sure you will both be ok.


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