School Readiness and Starting School
In Victoria, children must be five years of age or older by the 30th of April in the year they start school. Often parents question why the 30th of April is the cut off date and there is clear explanation why. Children develop at different rates and the decision to begin school often only based on age.
How do you know if your child is ready for school?
Preschool field officers may visit your child’s preschool to assess your child. They may use a check list to assess your child in the following areas:
- Play skills
- Social development
- Cognitive development
- Fine motor skills
- Language and communication skills
- Emotional development
- Self care skills
- Gross motor skills
Is my child ready for school?
If you have doubts about your child being able to begin school and cope academically, it might be a good idea to have them assessed with a standardised intelligence test. This gives parents a clear indication of where their child fits or stands compared with children of a similar age.
You should also talk with your child’s preschool teacher. They are experts in this area as they see large numbers of children and can offer a professional opinion based on a child’s developmental stage.
Preschool teachers may also recommend a cognitive assessment to test intellectual capacity. There are also many other reasons to conduct a cognitive assessment.
Can my child start school early?
The answer is yes – but it is often a lengthy process! Parents will need to provide evidence that their child is emotionally ready for school and that they are academically ready for school.
- Evidence that a child is emotionally ready can be gained from a child’s preschool teacher.
- Evidence that a child is academically ready needs to be assessed by a qualified psychologist.
School Psychology Services offers an assessment that tests the intellectual capacity of young people. This assessment is called the Wechsler Preschool & Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI – pronounced “WHIP SEE”). This test assesses intelligence. For a psychologist to support an early entry to school, a child must be in the gifted range on this test. The gifted range means that they are exceptional, not just above average.
More information about early entry to school in Victoria is available from the Department of Education.