What Age Is Kindergarten In NSW?

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Not only is it important to know what age kindergarten in NSW starts, it’s important to help children to feel confident and positive about going into school. The first year of primary school in NSW is called kindergarten, ‘kinder’ or ‘kindy’, and it can be a time that brings mixed emotions in the child and their family members. Because it is a part of school, kindergarten can be quite different in terms of physical and social environment, communication structures, academic expectations, and more. So, as well as detailing the age for kindergarten in NSW, here’s some information to help you and your child transition more smoothly into ‘big school’.

Kindergarten starting age in NSW

Starting kindergarten is an important milestone in your child’s life, but when is the right age to start kindergarten in NSW? It’s a significant question that many parents agonise over. Your child may have already experienced learning through childcare or preschool (a voluntary education program for children aged three to five years old which follows the Early Years Learning Framework), but does that necessarily mean they are ready to start 13 years of formal education?

For kindergarten, the average starting age varies between 4 and 6 years old. 

  • NSW kids are allowed to start school on the first day of term, as long as they turn 5 by July 31 that year. 
  • By law, all NSW children must be enrolled in kindergarten (primary school) by their 6th birthday.

With these considerations in mind, it means that for some parents depending on when their child’s birthday falls, will have to decide whether they will send their child to school early, on time, or wait until they are closer to 6 years old.

Signs your child is ready for kindergarten

While kindergarten is all about teaching your child, there are some foundational skills or development achievements which they may already have, that are signs your child could be ready to start kindergarten:


  • Social and emotional skills – your child can engage in basic social activities (playing, interacting, and sharing) with other children; they can make decisions that are appropriate for their age; and they are also able to manage basic emotions and cope with minor frustrations (including separation).
  • Communication and language skills – your child can express themselves verbally; they can follow simple instructions; and they can follow and easily adapt to a routine or schedule.
  • Cognitive development – for example, how your child thinks, explores, problem solves, and transitions between activities; they are curious, eager to explore new things, they ask questions, and already enjoy learning activities.
  • Physical development – basic motor skills (using pencils, scissors etc.); and physical activities (running, jumping etc.) 
  • Independence and self-help skills – they have a basic attention span, can complete basic self-help tasks, and show a level of independence. 
  • Pre-academic skills – they have some basic pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills (recognising letters, numbers, shapes etc.); they might enjoy listening to stories or looking at books.

Questions for parents

Regarding your child’s development, there are some questions you might also want to take into consideration, such as:

  • Is your child able to make independent decisions and follow through?
  • Does your child come up with their own ideas?
  • Can your child follow two or three instructions at the same time?
  • Does your child generally transition into new activities easily?
  • Does your child separate well from you (parents, family, or another primary carer)?
  • Does your child show interest in other children or interact well with them?
  • Can your child recognise and express their feelings or any needs that they have?
  • Are they able to concentrate on a task or do they struggle?
  • How well does your child handle frustrations?

Keep in mind, every child is different and these signs and questions serve only as a guide. You may also have some other factors or family circumstances that means your child needs to start kindergarten earlier/later. If your child is excited about the prospect of starting school, it’s often a good sign that they are ready. 

Ultimately, the decision of when your child starts kindergarten should be made by you as their parent, but also, don’t feel pressured into starting your child early just because other kids are. You should always take into consideration the individual needs and abilities of your child when making this decision. 

If you believe that waiting until they are ready is going to benefit your child, there is nothing wrong with doing that. A ‘ready for school’ checklist is also a helpful tool.

However, if you’re still unsure on what is best, you can always have a chat with your childcare provider or their teacher, to gauge if they feel your child has the skills and is ready to move into kindergarten; or, have a chat with other professionals who can help assess your child’s readiness for school, like the school or your family GP.


What are the legal requirements for starting school in NSW?

The NSW Education Act (1990) (Education Act) sets out the compulsory schooling requirements for enrolment and attendance of students at school in NSW. The main points of the Act include:

  • Children of compulsory school age (by the time they turn 6), are required to be enrolled in and attend school, or be registered for home schooling (according to the section 22 of the Education Act). 
  • Legally, it is also the responsibility of the parent or carer of the child, not the school, to ensure that their child is enrolled in and attending kindergarten, or is registered for home schooling.
  • Once enrolled, your child is required to attend school each day it is open. 
  • Schools and principals do have legal obligations in relation to attendance and enrolment under the Education Act, including policies and procedures for school registration and responsibilities in relation to attendance. 
  • If a child is not enrolled, there are penalties including fines, however, there are some provisions that allow for the delay of starting kindergarten (if a student meets certain criteria), and a parent must apply for any exemption.


How should I prepare my child for kindergarten?

Children who have a positive start to their schooling, are more likely to engage and experience ongoing success academically and socially. To best prepare your child for kindergarten there are a range of factors you may want to consider, and here are some tips to help you better prepare your child.

Decide if a school is going to be the best fit for your child

The right school can make a world of difference to a child. To help you with your decision, you can look at: 

  • The website of the school in your local area and what they offer (or compare schools if you have different options).
  • Attend school open days to see the facilities for yourself and how your child might interact with the teachers and other students.
  • Have a chat with other parents who have children at those schools.
  • Make an appointment with the school’s principal so you can ask any questions about specific educational programs, or how the school can cater to your child if they have additional needs.

Build your child’s confidence about starting school

It’s important to recognise that some children naturally adapt very easily to school, while some don’t. You can build confidence in them by:

  • Finding books or downloading stories about starting school that you can read with your child. This will help them to understand what it is about, while also giving them a headstart in reading and learning. 
  • If your child goes to daycare or preschool, you can start asking them about school – such as what they learnt that day or their favourite part of the day. This will make them feel that it isn’t going to be too much of a change.

Keep a positive attitude

Sometimes it’s the parents who are just as anxious about the child starting school. Try and relax about them starting school, and keep a positive attitude, because if you are stressed about the situation, your child may sense it and worry also.

Make sure that you don’t display your anxiety or speak negatively about your child not being at home as much once they start school.Instead, talk about how interesting and exciting it will be for them, while also encouraging them to explore their own feelings about starting kindergarten.

You can also get them excited about school by involving them in shopping for their school supplies, labelling their belongings, and helping them to recognise their name. For your child’s safety, make sure that their name is not visible on anything they wear to/from school.

Work with your child on lunchbox ideas, so they will get healthy and nutritious snacks along with what they like to eat. You may also want to bake or prepare some treats together, as well as practise packing their lunches with them.

Start a regular sleep and waking routine

If you haven’t done so already, get your child into a similar daily routine to what they can expect. This will help prepare your child before they experience those permanent changes in routine once school has started.

Your child needs to go to bed at a reasonable time, so set a strict bedtime so they will wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Ideally, TV or technology (mobiles, computers, or tablets), should be kept out of the child’s room so they aren’t tempted to use them when they are supposed to be going to sleep. Establishing a time to wind down from these is also a good idea, so that their mind and body will be better prepared for sleep.

Encourage learning, responsibility, and independence

Giving simple tasks like packing toys away or designating chores for kids, will teach them responsibility and how to be helpful. Also:

  • If your child has learned basic literacy and numeracy skills already, try and use these in practise every day.
  • Teach your child how to dress themselves in their uniform, put on their shoes, and tie up their shoelaces. Get them to practise their dressing skills and walking in their school shoes.
  • Practise packing and unpacking their school bag. 
  • Ensure your child can go to the toilet unassisted (boys may need to be shown how to use a urinal).
  • If they haven’t learnt properly already, then teach them good hand-washing techniques and make sure they practise this regularly. 
  • You may also need to show them how to ask the teacher when they need to be excused to use the bathroom.
  • Practise walking or travelling to school, so your child won’t be as anxious about it when school starts. 
  • Support them in building friendships and relationships before they start going to school.

Use available resources

There may be some readiness programs or other resources available on how to help children transition into kindergarten, and your childcare provider or preschool may also have some helpful information for you.

A school orientation or transition to school program is a great way to help connect them to their new school, and meet some other children who will be attending the school too. Asking the school for an enrolment pack so you have all the information you need, you can go through it, ask the school any questions, and share valuable information with your child.

Before they start school, take your child to the doctor for a general check-up and make sure all their immunisations are up to date. If your child takes medication, has an allergy or medical condition, has a disability, or will require additional learning and support, let the school know as early as possible and have a chat with them about how they can assist.

Also, if you may require outside of school hours care, have a chat with the school about your options or the plan for after-school pickup.

Should I send my child to childcare before starting kindergarten?

Children’s early development is crucial to their future educational success, and there has been a lot of research in this area. It has shown that those who start school with strong academic skills often continue to excel, while those children who begin with weaker skills may find it harder to catch up. Findings also demonstrate children who attend early childhood education (such as childcare or preschool), do better on a range of cognitive and non-cognitive measures, compared to children who don’t.

By starting your child in childcare or a preschool program before kindergarten, they will:

  • start with a solid foundation that will make the transition easier
  • feel more comfortable because they already have the experience behind them of settling into new environments
  • have the confidence and many of the skills needed for formal education.


Keen for kindergarten

Kindergarten is designed to introduce your child to the joys of learning at school. While age is a significant factor, there are several other aspects – such as school readiness, which parents should take into consideration to help ensure they are making the best choice for their child.

If you would like guidance or further information on how early childhood education can assist your child before they reach the age for kindergarten in NSW, simply book a tour of an Aurrum Kids childcare centre today.