Primary level education covers eight years, beginning with two years of kindergarten or the first learning cycle. The cantons set the age at which children start primary level, which in most cases is four years old. If a child has reached this age by the set cut-off date, they start at the beginning of the next school year, in late summer. The education authority may consider an earlier or later start upon request from the parents.
The time a child takes for the first years of school depends on their development and level of maturity. In the German-speaking part of Switzerland an assessment is usually made at the end of kindergarten whether a child is ready for primary school or whether they should attend kindergarten for a further year. In the French-speaking part of Switzerland this assessment takes place at the end of the four-year cycle 1 or cycle primaire 1.
Teachers, parents and, where appropriate, school psychology or medical services are consulted to assess whether a child is ready for school. The final decision lies with the school supervisory authority or the school management.