School readiness


As parents, many of us struggle to know when is the right time to send our child off to school or preschool, and when it is better to keep them back for another year.

 Until the age of 7, children continue to have wide variations in their development. There is no one quality or skill that children need to do well in school, but a combination of things contributes to success. These include

  • good health and physical wellbeing,
  • social and emotional maturity,
  • language skills,
  • an ability to solve problems and think creatively, and
  • general knowledge about the world.

What we have to remember is that every child is an individual - each each develops at a different rate, and each will be stronger in some areas than others.

Remember, too, that being ready for school depends partly on what the school expects. One school may think it's very important for children to sit quietly and know the alphabet. Another may believe it's more important for children to get along well with others. Children who match the school's expectations may be considered better prepared. You may want to visit your child's school to learn what the principal and teachers expect and discuss any areas of disagreement.

American research has found that more than half of teachers surveyed rated the following as essential to school readiness:

  • Vision, hearing and dental problems are detected and addressed.
  • A child knows their name and has a basic awareness of self, family and community.
  • A child can follow basic rules and routines.

It may be useful to ask yourself some of the following questions. Without your help, can your child

  • Use the toilet?
  • Wash their hands?
  • Tie shoes?
  • Do up buttons, zips, etc.?
  • Eat unassisted?
  • Put toys away when asked?

For more information on school readiness, visit Early Childhood Australia here.


By law, your child must have an immunisation status certificate to enrol in primary school. The certificate is a statement showing which immunisations your child has received prior to starting school. 

An Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) Child History Statement is usually used as the school entry immunisation status certificate. You will be sent a statement when your child turns five, however you can request a statement from ACIR at any time. 

The school keeps a copy of the certificate so that, in the event of a disease outbreak, unimmunised children can be quickly identified and excluded from attending school until the risk of infection has passed. 

If your child’s immunisation status is unknown, because no certificate has been provided to the school, then your child may also be excluded. 

Enrolling in primary school is a good time to ensure your child’s immunisations are up to date. Children starting school are exposed to a large number of people and to a range of potentially dangerous diseases. Immunisation is a proven and safe way to protect your child against vaccine-preventable diseases that cause serious illness and sometimes death. 

To obtain an immunisation certificate contact ACIR via telephone (1800 653 809), email, our your MyGov account, or speak with your doctor or local council. 

For more information, visit Better Health.