When Should I Send My Child To School?

When should I send my child to school in Australia | Lifelong Learning Curriculum School Readiness Program

Starting 'Big School' is an exciting time in a child’s lifelong learning journey. When to start is influenced by state-specific guidelines and a child's individual readiness. While the general age for starting school is around five or six, the exact cut-off dates vary across states and territories. Understanding these guidelines is essential for ensuring a smooth transition into the formal education system.

Equally important is the role of preschool or early education in the two years leading up to school. Attending preschool provides children with valuable opportunities to develop essential social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills, laying a strong foundation for their school years.

In this blog post, we will explore the appropriate age for starting school in different parts of Australia and highlight the benefits of early childhood education in preparing children for this significant milestone.

What age do children start school in Australia?

In Australia, the age at which children start school varies slightly between states and territories, but generally, children begin school in the year they turn five or six. Here’s a breakdown of the guidelines for each state and territory:


To be eligible for Prep, the first year of primary school in QLD, children must be aged 5 years by 30 June in the year they start Prep.

New South Wales

To be eligible for kindergarten, the first year of primary school in NSW, children must turn 5 by 31 July of the year the start kindergarten.

Australian Capital Territory

To be eligible for primary school in ACT, children must be aged 5 years by 30 April in the year they start.


To be eligible for Foundation or Prep the first year of primary school in VIC, children must turn 5 before 30 April of the year they are due to start.

Northern Territory

To be eligible for primary school in NT, children must be aged 6 years by 30 June in the year they start.

Western Australia

To be eligible for pre-primary school, the first year of compulsory year of school in WA, children must be aged 5 years by 30 June in the year they start.

The importance of preschool before primary school

In Australia, it is generally recommended that children attend two years of preschool (also known as kindergarten and kinder in some states) before they start primary school, as this provides them with a solid foundation in terms of language, early literacy and numeracy, independence and concentration as well as social skills and self-regulation.

A study conducted by the University of Melbourne in 2017 found that children who attend a high quality early learning program in the year before school are up to 40 percent ahead of their peers by the time they reach Year 3 (Everyone Benefits, 2017). Parallel studies identify that two years of preschool has even greater benefits than one year (Pascoe and Brennan, 2017 and Mitchell Institute, 2016). Lifting Our Game, for example, found that children who attend high quality early education in the two years before school were better prepared for the transition to school, achieved higher at school, had a more positive attitude to school and learning, and were more likely to graduate high school. Furthermore, the more frequently and consistently the child attended the higher the outcomes.

High quality school readiness program

The School Readiness Program offered at Affinity Education run centres (Milestones, Kids Academy, Papilio and Aussie Kindies) gives your child the very best start to primary school. It is a key component of our Lifelong Learning Curriculum, Australia's most advanced approach to early education, and has been specifically designed for children aged 3-5 years. It aims to stimulate young minds, build confidence, resilience and positive self image, and supports children’s transition to school, all while setting them up for a lifetime love of learning.

The School Readiness Program is also aligned with the Australian Early Years Learning Framework, the government approved play-based approach to early education for children before they begin primary school. It offers a rich combination of child-led learning and intentional teaching experiences and focuses on four key intentions – emotional confidence, social connectivity, foundational learning and physical health and wellbeing while considering your child’s natural interests, strengths and needs.

Learn more about our quality School Readiness Program, and find your nearest Affinity Education run early learning centre here.