How can I tell when my child is ready for school?

Many parents often ask: “How can I tell when my child is ready for school? At what age is the best time for him or her to be ready for the classroom?” 

All the research that has tried to answer these questions point to the same conclusion - child maturation varies from child to child. Some children were found to be ready at age four. Others, on the other hand, were not ready until age six, seven or later. One thing for sure though is that forcing a child to begin school too early was found to lead to frustration, resistance to further formal learning, early school failure as well as disciplinary problems. All these things that we never think of when our baby is starting Kindergarten may lead effect whether our not-so-little-anymore child continues past Grade 10 and their overall experience of school. 

A paper into School Readiness by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth has quoted “The experiences of early childhood have lifelong implications for our health, well-being, and development, including our ability to become productive, socially adjusted contributors to society. Though these experiences do not determine how children ultimately develop, they do set them on trajectories that, over time become increasingly difficult to modify” For those who do not have an extra two hours of reading the 24-page study, I have outlined their finding below. For those that suffer from insomnia, feel free to email me, and I am more than happy to email you a copy of the paper. 


Summary of Findings:

The cost of making the wrong decision – sending your not-ready child to Kindergarten: 

  • Children who are not yet ready tend to do less well in school, 
  • They are more likely to experience anxiety and depression when they reach Primary and/or High School
  • They are less likely to continue to Grade 11 and 12
  • They tend to have lower educational levels on leaving school and are more likely to have poor employment records in adulthood.


The cost of making the wrong decision – holding your school-ready child back for another year:

  • They are more likely to be bored and demotivated
  • Can at times act immature as a result of playing with less mature children

Thinking that you can always repeat them is not the answer either. We want the first year of school to be exciting, successful and not just one where the child attempts to ‘cope’ and then has to do it all again. Repeating a child at a later stage has been found to have negative outcomes for the child in terms of their confidence and social skills. 


I bet you are starting to question your decision. It does not have to be that way. Talking to a professional such as a psychologist will make you confident about your decisions and reduce some of your worries.