Moving on to school

Children can start school or kura in New Zealand anytime between the ages of 5 and 6. Once they turn 6 they must be enrolled and attend a school or kura every day.

Most children start school when they turn 5, although they don't legally have to start until their 6th birthday.

Here are some things to think about and plan when your child is moving from early childhood education (ECE) to school or kura.

  • If you have a choice of schools or kura in your area, check out the options and choose one that suits your child's needs.
  • Find out if the schools or kura you're interested in have open days or parents' information events, and go along to check out the environment, and meet the teachers and principal.
  • Choose the one that you think is best for you and your child.
  • Complete the enrolment process.
  • Work out how your child will get to and from school or kura, and organise after school care if you need it.
  • Get ready ahead of time with things like stationery and school uniform (if the school or kura has one).

The more prepared you are, the less stressful the change will be for you and your child.

Is my child ready to start school?

If you're not sure whether to send your child to school or kura when they turn 5, or wait until they are 6, talk with your ECE service or kōhanga reo and to your child's future school. They will be able to help you decide on a good time to make the move. If you keep your child in ECE until they are 6, make sure you work with your ECE service or kōhanga reo to develop clear goals to prepare your child for school or kura.

How can I prepare my child for school?

There are a number of things that are helpful for your child to be able to do when they start school or kura:

  • do up their shoes
  • put on and take off their coats
  • go to the toilet and wash their hands
  • blow their nose
  • recognise when they are thirsty and get a drink of water
  • ask for things they need.

They may find it easier to participate in the class if they:

  • can follow simple instructions
  • can control impulses - like interrupting or getting angry when a favourite activity ends - most of the time
  • can sit on a chair at a table for a short time to complete an activity
  • are comfortable being away from you
  • know how to take turns, and wait for things
  • know the names of colours
  • know the letters of the alphabet
  • know the numbers 1 to 9
  • can hold a pencil correctly and use scissors
  • can write their name
  • are able to hold a picture book and turn the pages carefully.

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