A few tips to hopefully make the process of starting kindy a little easier for you.
2019 marks a new chapter in my family’s history - we have a kindy kid! My oldest daughter turns 4 in May and will be starting kindergarten at our local primary school in February. We have been to a parent information day, have met her soon-to-be classmates and had a play in the classroom. Now, it’s almost time for the real deal!
Now, if you aren’t familiar with the WA school system - and believe me, I wasn’t familiar with it until the time came to enrol my daughter - you may think my daughter sounds a little young to be starting kindy. In WA, children can start kindergarten at the beginning of the school year as long as they turn 4 prior to 30 June of that year. If you’re not sure when your child will start school, you can use this handy calculator to work it out.
If you have a preschooler, here are some things to know about starting kindy in WA.
Pre-Kindy? No, I had never heard of it before I became a mum either! A number of schools in WA - generally private or Catholic schools - offer ‘Pre-kindy’ for three year olds. The kindy centre is typically located at the school and feature a ‘real’ classroom set up with lessons. The school day is typically shorter than that day care. Pre-Kindy is not compulsory for WA children and is regarded as a supplement or alternative to day care for three year olds.
Western Australia’s school year runs from February to December, yet the cut off date for starting school is 30 June of any given year. This means that if your child turns 4 before 30 June, they can start school, even though they may still only be 3 when the school year starts in February! My daughters are late May and late June babies so they will be among the youngest in their classes!
In WA, kindergarten is not compulsory. There is no pressure to send them to kindy in the year they turn 4. In fact, most WA public schools will only have limited kindy places available so if you do miss out, don’t panic! Pre-primary, the year after kindy, is the first year of compulsory schooling.
It is not full time
Kindy is part time and generally runs for up to 15 hours a week. Just to give you an example, my daughter’s kindy hours for this year are every Monday and Tuesday from 8:30am to 2:30pm and every Wednesday 8:30am to 11:30am. There are two other classes running with different days of the week available.
Applications generally close around the end of term 2 the year before kindy starts
Applications may open at any time during the year but typically applications close around the end of term 2 - check with your local schools for dates to be sure.
You may not get a kindy place at your preferred school
If your local primary school is anything like the one we are sending our oldest daughter to, kindergarten places are limited. I was told by some local mums that it was difficult to get a place there and they gave first preference to siblings of existing students, followed by those without siblings already at the school (like my daughter) and followed by children living outside the school’s boundaries.
If you don’t get a place at your preferred school, they should provide you with a list of surrounding primary schools with kindy places available, and you may also be able to go on the school’s waiting list in case a place becomes available. We were lucky to be offered a place at our preferred school.
Kindy and day care
Your child can go through a kindy program at the majority of day cares in Perth. There may be differences in how the programs are run from centre to centre, so talk to your local day care centre about their kindergarten program.
Are you thinking about changing schools? You can also read a fantastic article about choosing and changing schools in WA here.