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When Should My Child Start School

If your child is 3 or 4 years old this year then you’re most probably wondering if it’s time to enroll him in school. However, with the new K-12 system in place and different recommendations coming from different schools, family, and even parent friends, then it is quite understandable that parents themselves are unsure about whether or not to enroll.

So if you’re one of those parents who’s still undecided if this is the year that your child should begin his school career, then read on:

1. Kinder, Nursery, or Preschool?

Preschool, nursery or kinder all technically refer to one thing – early childhood education for children before they begin compulsory education.

Taking it in the Philippine context, the term used entirely depends on the educational institution, especially if it’s a private school. But our Department of Education (DepEd) refers to Kinder as the level before Grade 1. In fact, the K in K-12 refers to Kinder, while 12 means Grade 1 to 12.

2. What is the age requirement for Kinder?

DepEd requires children to reach 5 years of age before acceptance to the Kinder level. Furthermore, based on the DepEd Order 47, s. 2016, Omnibus Policy on Kindergarten, the agency requires kids to be 5 by August 31st of the school year they will enroll in. This basically means that your child’s 5th birthday should fall before the said date for him to be admitted as a Kinder student.

Private schools can be more lenient with this age requirement, with some accepting even kids whose 5th birthdays fall after August 31st. But do note that even if your child starts Kinder early, there is no guarantee that he will be admitted to Grade 1 in a big school. The DepEd requirement for Grade 1 admission is for children to reach 6 years of age or more by the August 31st of the school year they will enroll in. It must also be noted that schools and the DepEd are now more strict in terms of the child’s age, as K-12 considers the child’s readiness, social and emotional development aside from mental capacity.

Taking these into consideration, it can be said that anything before the Kinder level can be called Preschool, as Kinder marks the start of your child’s start in K-12, and hence anything before that is “pre” or before school, regardless of what some private schools may call it.

3. How many levels of Kinder/Preschool are required to be accepted to Grade 1?

Going back to its memo, DepEd only requires one year of Kinder (at 5 years old) for a child to be accepted into Grade 1 (at 6 years old).

On the other hand, some big private schools require 1 level of Preschool and 1 level of Kinder for admission. So if you are eyeing such schools, then you can opt to enroll your child in Preschool at 4 years old, for him to be Kinder at 5, and Grade 1 at 6. Also, don’t forget to ask the school you’re considering if their Kinder level follows DepEd standards. Private schools again have more flexibility on this matter but they should still follow the DepEd’s Kinder guidelines and framework. Only Kinder levels who adhere to the DepEd standard are valid.

If you’re feeling pressured about whether or not to enroll your child in school at 3 or 4 years old, don’t. Observe your child. See if he’s showing interest and readiness to start schooling. Some parents opt to enroll their child at an early age for socialization skills and routine setting. While other parents decide to enroll their child at the exact age of 4 or 5 because they feel that 3 is still quite young. So don’t fret mama and good luck on your child’s school journey.

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