Kinder kids to wait an extra year

GRIFFITH children could wait up to an extra year before they start school under a plan from the country's peak primary principals body.

The Australian Primary Principals' Association wants to introduce a standardised age of five-and-a-half across all states and territories now a national curriculum has been developed.

Currently children can start as young as four years and six months, and no older than six.

Under the proposed new standard, children would be at least five years old at the start of kindergarten.

Reaction to the proposed plan has been mixed. Griffith Primary Principals Association president, Jude Hayman, said age shouldn't be the only deciding factor.

"In Finland children do not start until they are seven and there is a lot of research behind school starting age. I am no expert, but I believe it varies due to many factors," she said. "I think the key to a child starting school successfully lies in early intervention.

"That is attending pre-school or an early childhood education setting as well as opportunities in the home.

"Engaging in conversation with children through play and reading is vital to a child's readiness for school."

Meanwhile, Griffith East Preschool director Suzy Tucker said a standardised system would make things easier for families.

"I think the initiative is a great idea and one that has floated around for many years," she said. "There is so much variation around the country for starting ages that is one issue and now with a national curriculum it makes sense to have every detail even for children, families and schools.

"Currently in NSW there is the chance of around 18 months age difference in a kinder class and that is just way too big in the current education system.

"Very often I feel also the very youngest starters have other issues to deal with as well such as English as a second language or no early childhood education experience.

"Basically the evidence around the world is that the longer children have in a play-based environment, the better equipped they are for the world in general and of course for learning."

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