When should my child start school? Early school entry for gifted students in Adelaide

Starting school is an exciting and important time in a child’s life.

With the recent changes in South Australia to the rules for children starting school, all children have their first day of school at the start of Term 1 of the school year, and children can start school in the year they turn 5 years of age if their birthday is before 1 May.

This means that some children will be almost 6 years of age before they have the opportunity to start formal learning.

Research has shown the importance of unstructured time for children’s development and of play-based learning in their early years, so for most children those early years spent in unstructured play, in home settings with parents and caregivers, in childcare settings or in informal activities is crucial and very appropriate for their age and stage of development.

Is my child gifted?

But what of those children who are already showing signs of school readiness or of gifted development?

These children:

  • may be showing advanced skills in reading, writing or numeracy
  • may be extremely curious about the world around them, wanting to know how things work and why
  • may be able to make connections between ideas and concepts that seem to be beyond their peers of the same age
  • may appear desperate for intellectual stimulation and challenges, sometimes testing their caregivers’ ability to keep them entertained and engaged!

Early school entry – is it for my child?

There is some scope for children with advanced development or high IQ to enrol in school earlier in order to fully support their academic potential.

It is a way of ‘fast tracking’ a child’s educational development while also avoiding having to consider skipping a grade later in their schooling, which can be associated with other difficulties.

Early school entry is decided at the discretion of schools and principals but families can make a case for their child’s early entry to school based on his/her IQ and other important information to support the idea that early enrolment will benefit the child, and delaying enrolment may in fact potentially disadvantage the child.

At Attuned Psychology, we can conduct a range of psychoeducational assessments that can assist in making a case for your child to start school early.

The basis of this testing is a cognitive assessment, that would determine your child’s IQ, which provides an indication of his/her intellectual potential to be able to cope with the academic demands of school.

In addition, if requested, we can use measures of behavioural, social and emotional development to help build a picture of your child’s overall ability to cope with school.

We are also able to conduct full educational assessments if requested, which also formally measure a child’s academic skills, such as word reading, reading comprehension, spelling and numeracy.

Getting it right from the start

Children with gifted intellectual development can sometimes feel bored if their potential isn’t being met and their abilities challenged, which can lead to disengagement, frustration and even behavioural difficulties.

Getting your child’s educational needs met well is vitally important so the best place to start is from the very beginning so that they go into school with the right support to achieve their very best.

Please contact us to discuss an assessment of your child’s learning needs.  Call us on 08 8361 7008 or email [email protected].

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