Preschool pupils must not be over 5-DepEd.
Byline: Dona Z. Pazzibugan
HOW old should a child in preschool be?
With kindergarten now mandatory under the K to 12 programs, the Department of Education (DepEd) has required preschools and day care centers to comply with the standard requisite age for preschoolers.
The preschool age should normally be up to 5 years old only, since by 6 years old a child is expected to be in Grade 1, according to the DepEd. Under Republic Act No. 10157 or the universal public kindergarten program passed last year, the DepEd made one year of kindergarten compulsory and a prerequisite to entering Grade 1.
Kindergarten is free to 5-year-olds in the public elementary schools under the K to 12 basic education reform program, which consists of kindergarten, six years of elementary, two years of junior high and two years of senior high school.
"Private (pre)schools should follow (the standard)," Education Undersecretary for Programs and Projects Yolanda Quijano said.
"Whether they have nursery, kinder 1 or kinder 2 levels, they should now follow [the standard] that kinder is for 5-year-olds and Grade 1 is for 6-year-olds," she said.
Quijano clarified that while the DepEd required only one year of kindergarten, parents who can afford private day care centers or preschools can have their children start school as young as 3 or 4 years old to prepare them for regular schooling.
Before the mandatory kindergarten, some private preschools had pupils as old as 6 and 7 years old.
Quijano said that having "over-age" or older than 5 years old pupils in kindergarten would apply only to exceptional cases such as a child who has learning issues.
"In other countries, there are Grade 1 students who are 6 or 7 years old. But for us now, Grade 1 is for 6-year-olds," she said.
For kindergarten, the DepEd said the pupil's mother tongue or the language used at home shall be the primary medium of instruction under the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) method adopted under the K to 12 programs.
Around 1.7 million 5-year-old children are currently enrolled in kindergarten in both public and private schools, according to Quijano. But the DepEd believes that not all 5-year-olds this year were able to enroll in kindergarten. Quijano said they would conduct a summer kinder program at the end of the school year for incoming 6-year-old Grade 1 students who missed kindergarten.