YOUR child will let you know when they are ready to start kindergarten, according to Orange mother Laura Hannan.
Her comments come after the NSW Department of Education released figures that showed 19.5 per cent of kindergarten children were already six when they started school last year, compared with 17.3 per cent in 2002.
In NSW, children can start kindergarten if they turn 5 by July 31 that year.
Legally, children must be enrolled in school by their sixth birthday, which means there can be an 18-month age gap between students.
Mrs Hannan believes a parent knows their child better than experts. She chose to send her son Rohan, who turned five in September, to school this year because he was mentally ready for the milestone.
“He’s really confident and he was ready to go for about eight months of last year,” she said.
However, Mrs Hannan is considering holding her younger son Ethan back a year because he has a different personality to her older boys.
“He’s a lot more withdrawn than the other two so we might keep him back but we’ll make that decision at the time,” she said.
“He turns five in November and could easily have another year at home.”
Charles Sturt University transition to school professor Bob Perry said any academic benefit an older child had over their younger classmates would fade over time.
He said by mid to late primary school any edge the child might have would have evened out.
“It’s not always the older kids doing better. Some younger kids learn faster,” he said.
Parents often get concerned if their child cannot use scissors properly or hold their pencil correctly, write their name or recite the alphabet when some of their counterparts can.
However, experts advise that parents should not be worried because that is what school is for.
“It’s not whether they can read or not, the teacher thinks that’s their job to do,” Professor Perry said.
Mrs Hannan says people tend to think boys develop slower than girls, but in her experience, with five children, that was not the case.
“It’s not necessarily just boys,” she said.
“If they are confident they’ll be ok.”