Parenting News

Children in France now required to start school at age three

France now has one of the lowest age requirements for school in Europe.

France has changed the compulsory school starting age for children from six to three.

The country's president Emmanuel Macron said the new reform is aimed at reducing inequality in education as children in poorer areas are less likely to start their children in school at an early age.

The new rule will come into effect from next year.

Starting children early at school is commonplace in France and only a small percentage of children are not enrolled by the age of three, according to government figures.

In New Zealand, most children start school once they are five but are not legally required to until they turn six.

There has been lots of debate over the most appropriate age for children to start at school.

"Research evidence overwhelmingly supports a later start to formal education," wrote University of Cambridge developmental ­psychologist David Whitebread during a 2013 campaign, backed by 130 experts in early childhood education (ECE), to lift the UK school-entry age from four to seven. He cited University of Otago research that found by age 11, children who had started formal literacy lessons at seven caught up to those who started at five. But the
early starters liked reading less, and had poorer comprehension.

The age of children starting school in Europe varies from age four in the UK to age seven in Scandinavian countries such Finland and Sweden.

In Australia, the school starting age varies between states and territories, meaning children can be as young as four-and-a-half or as old as six.

WATCH: What children should know before they start school.