Children Could Be Starting School At 4 Years Old?

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Children Could Be Starting School At 4 Years Old?

What? Huh? Say that again?! That’s got to be a mistake, right?!

Children starting school at 4 years old?!!??!?!?!??!?! 

Let me read that again … and again. Nope I read it right. New Zealand is considering DROPPING the entry age to 4 years old.

“Four-year-olds will attend some primary schools under wide-ranging reforms set to pass into law – alarming opposition parties and the primary teachers’ union.”

The Education (Update) Amendment bill is down to be read a final time this week and is a key plank of the biggest education reforms since 1989. New Zealand’s current system allows children to start on their 5th birthday, and requires consistent attendance only from the age of 6.” (taken from this NZ Herald article)

I can tell you, without a doubt, that I do not agree with this at all.

I’m no professional (only a professional idiot as I’ve said before), but I’m a mother, and one of the things that concerned me the MOST was whether or not my child was ready for school.

Often I get a lot of messages to my Happy Mum Happy Child Facebook page stating that they are unsure if their child is ready and they are considering keeping them back.


Currently in New Zealand, the system allows children to start on their 5th birthday, and requires consistent attendance only from the age of 6. So if you didn’t think your child was ready at 5, then they’re not required to fully attend until 6.

A lot of other countries around the world don’t let their kids start school until 6 or 7.

The article that I read is HERE on the NZ Herald website.

Nikki Kaye is the Education Minister here in New Zealand, and what she’s saying (at least in the article I read) is that basically this adjustment to the entry age is a change to make administration easier on the schools.

“If children were required to be aged 5 when starting with a cohort, this would result in school-ready 5-year-olds having to wait longer to start school, and would place increased pressure on capacity in the early childhood education sector.

“It’s really important to note that no child will be required to start school before their 5th birthday. In fact, parents won’t legally be required to send their children to school until their 6th birthday.”

She then goes on to say “I don’t think it is unreasonable to allow parents the option to let their children start at school a maximum of eight weeks earlier than their 5th birthday.”

She says that whilst a child could start earlier than 5, there would be no pressure for a child to do so; and that the schools wouldn’t be forced to take on this option.

Families won’t be legally required to send their child to school until their sixth birthday, as is currently the case.



I’m going to add my two cents worth in here and I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, I mean no disrespect to anyone. This is just my opinion.

In no way, shape or form, do I agree with this. Even if it is for “administrative purposes”.

So many parents are out there in the work force working their butts off and their kids are in a daycare system. Daycare is different from school, and I know personally so many Mums struggle with the decision to send them there. But in the end have ultimately no choice because of the need to earn money to survive.

Daycare and School are two completely different entities.

Daycare / Preschool / Kindergarten are about helping to look after our children and extend them. Letting them be kids, because that’s what they are.

School is about learning; less play, more knowledge.

It’s the step from being a child, to being an adult; where we teach them the way of the world academically.

If you say the option to start school earlier than 5 is there for administrative purposes, then you’re kidding yourself if you think people won’t take that option up.

Daycare is expensive. School (fortunately) isn’t not (unless you have lots of kids, and then everything is expensive with lots haha)

If you offer an option that is cheaper for the hard working parents out there, then chances are they will take it. Which means children aged 4 will be in schools.

It breaks my heart to think that a child who isn’t ready for school is pushed into a situation like that. 

Of course, there will be some children who are ready – OF COURSE. No two children are the same. I know quite a few children who are well and truly ready for school by the time they’re 5 (or earlier).

However I really do think we need to let our kids be kids, and not feel the pressure to be adults.

As parents we worry so much about whether or not our kid is ready for school, and I personally don’t think children aged 4 should be in any kind of school. The way our system works at the moment is great – you can start school at 5, but if you’re not ready then you don’t have to send them until 6.

If you lower the age to 4 (regardless how close it is to them turning 5), people will take advantage of it, and my biggest concern is always for the children.

Especially if they’re not ready and they have no say in the matter.




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