What to do if your child is not ready to start Prep
If you are are wondering what to do if your child is not ready to start prep then this article will help to clear up some myths and support you in making a decision. Without question, one of the most significant milestones for both kids and parents is embarking on the journey of formal education. You are likely reading this article because there is concern your child isn’t ready for school, and you aren’t entirely sure what to do with these thoughts.
My child isn’t ready to start Prep
What happens if, in the lead up to the start of the school year, you begin to think: “My child just isn’t ready to start Prep”?
Delaying the start of kindergarten or prep can be a challenging process for parents. Those parents whose children have their birthdays close to the June 30 cut-off date may start to question- will my child be just that bit too young? Others may have noticed that their child is keeping their own pace with regards to their development and may need another year before beginning either the Kindy or Prep journey. There can be all sorts of reasons why parents may not feel like their child is ready for school, no reason being right or wrong.
One of our most popular posts is one we wrote after looking at research and listening to experts about the pros and cons of repeating prep. You might be surprised to learn some of the usual assumptions are anecdotal rather than research-based.
Here are the steps suggested by the Queensland Department of Education to help you with your decision:
Meet with your Kindergarten
Having the support of your child’s kindergarten teacher is important. They can help you understand how the kindergarten program can support the needs of your child.
This process is not as easy as saying you think your child would benefit from another year before starting kindergarten or school. You need to discuss this with your kindergarten teacher so they understand why you think your child is not ready to begin kindergarten or move on to Prep. They can additionally ensure you realise what assistance is available to support your child.
Your kindergarten is also the place to start your application and they can help you understand more about the application and approval process and timeline.
Meet with the Principal of the school your child is likely to attend
It is important that you understand the impact of delaying the start of your child’s education. Your school Principal can help you understand how the Prep program can support the needs of your child, and also any implications of delaying Prep on your child’s enrolment at the school.
It is essential to understand the school’s policy with regards to “changing your mind”. If you get approval to delay the start of prep, some schools may not be able to accept you if you change your mind closer to the beginning of the school year.
Meet with other professionals
Your application will require supporting documents from professionals such as your child’s GP, paediatrician, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist and early childhood education teacher. You will know what you need (or don’t need) following a discussion with your school or kindergarten.
Assessments can be an expensive and time-consuming part of the process but is an important one. Having a thorough understanding of your child’s needs will help you decide on whether your child is ready to start Kindergarten or Prep.
What to do if you wish to delay your child starting Kindergarten
If you want to delay entry into kindergarten, you will need to complete a form stating that you are delaying their entry to Kindy. This can be found at www.qld.gov.au/kindy. This has to be done to allow the Kindy to accept your child the following year when they are of school age.
What to do if you wish to delay your child’s first year of Prep
You can delay your child’s entry by one year if you feel they are not ready, as it is not compulsory for your child to attend the Prep year as soon as they are old enough (that is, aged five years by 30 June in the year they enrol). When they do start school, they will need to begin with the prep year. If you wish to delay the start of prep, you will need to complete the same form as above. However, the process is a little more complicated. You will need to gather evidence from supporting professionals such as those listed above to support your application for delaying your child’s exit from kindergarten and entry to Prep. The best place to start is with your kindergarten teacher. Having your teacher’s support makes the whole process easier as they can help you understand the process, timeline and necessary requirements.
Write out the benefits and risks
Armed with all the information you have gathered, this can be the most helpful step of trying to make a decision. Firstly take all the expert information you have gathered and write that down, get it out of your head. You will have points of consideration on both sides of the list. Write down everything you are worried about, what is the worst that can happen, how will this play out later in life but don’t forget the benefits as well. Remember regardless of any information, advice and challenges you foresee, this is your child, and their story is not yet written.
Whatever decision you make, the support is available for you from your kindergarten and school. The resources provided by the Department of Education are clear and helpful. You can find these at www.qld.gov.au/kindy.