Currently, school attendance in South Africa is only compulsory from Grade 1 through to Grade 9. Children can begin Grade 1 at the age of 5, as long as they turn 6 on or before 30 June of that year, but many parents prefer to send their children to Grade 1 when they are 6, turning 7. As attendance is only compulsory from Grade 1, it is acceptable to wait until then to send children to school.
However, Grade R (the Reception Year, also known as Grade 0) forms part of the Foundation Phase, which covers Grades R-3. Although the majority of pre-primary schools incorporate Grades 000, 00 and R (0), most educators believe that it is in the child’s best interests to not only attend Grade R, but to attend it at the same school at which they will complete their entire primary school education. This means that most children will attend pre-primary school for two years before moving on to primary school for Grade R through to Grade 7.
Whether to send children to pre-primary school or directly to Grade 1 is a personal choice, but the benefits of the social interaction, educational guidance and school-readiness can’t be ignored.