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Academic Derogation and Early School Entry

An academic derogation or an early school entry is a measure of exception given to children born after September 30, whose cognitive abilities and preschool progression have been identified as sufficient to warrant an early entry into kindergarten or 1st grade. A derogation becomes relevant when the child shows a particularly developed intelligence, signs of socio-affective maturity as well as a curiosity and a predisposition to learning, which would enable him to progress without prejudice and at his own speed on a personal, social, developmental and academic level.

During a derogation for early school entry, the psychologist or neuropsychologist conducts a cognitive and behavioral assessment of the child’s level and skills, by looking into three main areas of functioning. Quebec’s Order of Psychologists (OPQ) has in fact established specific criteria and ask that the three following spheres be investigated:

  • Intelligence and intellectual potential
  • Psychomotor and visuo-motor integration
  • Socio-affective abilities

On the other hand, delayed school entry is also another possible course of action, during which children with below-average level of maturity or functioning (intelligence, language, motor function) can be granted special status and see their entry into kindergarten pushed back a year.


The OPQ and the various school boards insist on fostering the child’s own interest and the notion of prejudice when considering early school entry. For a derogation to be accepted, a child clearly needs to stand out from others on the intellectual, social, affective and psychomotor levels. High intelligence alone is not enough to recommend early school entry if psychomotor skills or socio-emotional maturity are not up to standards, because potential short- or long-term negative effects exist if a child is not ready.

In fact, it is important to understand that the goal behind early entry to school is to prevent prejudice to the child. In other words, the professional must clearly show that a child’s overall progression and future development can be affected if he remains in his current academic year and is not allowed early entry. It is therefore not sufficient for parents to ask that their child be given a derogation, under the pretext that he is smart and that he will be « wasting a year » because he is born in October or November.

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A derogation is granted when a child presents with intelligence, socio-emotional and psychomotor skills that are more advanced than those of his peers, and when the environment in which he is progressing is no longer capable of stimulating him at a fast-enough rate with regards to maturity, social interactions and learning. In such a case, various risks can arise, such as regression, disinterest or the progressive appearance of disruptive behavior such as opposition.

Therefore, when a girl or a boy is ahead of his age in all spheres of development, a derogation or an early school entry will help:

  • avoid boredom, loss of motivation and academic disinterest
  • prevent the emergence of disruptive behavior
  • avoid conflicts with students, teachers or parents
  • ensure sufficient intellectual stimulation
  • ensure that the child continues to mature
  • ensure their personal and interpersonal development
  • ensure learning progress at a proper pace


It is very important to consider the needs and interests of the child before those of the parents, because there can be potential risks actually associated with early school entry.

Keep in mind that a child who is admitted early in kindergarten will be the youngest of the class and will find himself in a more demanding environment than previously known to him; furthermore at that young age, a difference of one year between two children is also considered significant on a social, emotional, intellectual and even physical level. Even if a child presents with high intelligence, he may come to struggle if he does not possess the required social skills to interact with and to integrate a group of older, more physically mature children, or if he is not yet able to control his emotions in circumstances where rules need to be respected or where rejection and failure are also possibilities.

We often forget to consider the possible harm involved if a child is not yet ready for an academic derogation. This is why such caution must be exercised by the psychologist or neuropsychologist, whose role it is to sensitize parents about the potential impacts on the academic progression or personal development of their children:

  • Frustration or anger
  • Anxiety and school avoidance
  • Rejection and social integration difficulties
  • Poor academic performance or failures
  • Low self esteem
  • Demotivation
  • Lack of effort


The assessment process in the context of an academic derogation must therefore be accurate and thorough when considering the benefits, but also the risks, associated with early school entry. As such, a neuropsychological assessment can help identify a child’s strengths and weaknesses on different cognitive spheres, so as to ensure and to foster the child’s welfare, as well as to better advise parents who are considering the derogation.

Here at NeuroSolution, assessment services for an academic derogation are offered in French or in English, and aim to meet the criteria established by the OPQ. However, as we seek to offer you the best service possible, an assessment of language skills and attention is also included in order to cover all aspects of your child’s level of functioning. In this way, our team will be able to provide additional recommendations to promote the development of your child, irrespective of whether the derogation ends up being granted or not.