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Primary level

Primary education – including two years of kindergarten or a first learning cycle – comprises eight years. In a few cantons of German-speaking Switzerland, there is no obligation to send children to kindergarten, or only an obligation of one year. Nevertheless, the vast majority of children in these cantons attend kindergarten also for two years. In several German-speaking cantons, municipalities can choose to run a first learning cycle (called «Grundstufe» or «Basisstufe»), which combines kindergarten and the first one or two years of primary school. In this organisational form, four to seven or eight year old children are taught together in the same class. In French-speaking Switzerland, the two kindergarten years are usually included in what is called «cycle 1» or «cycle primaire 1», which lasts for four years. The canton of Ticino offers in addition to the two compulsory years of kindergarten, an initial, voluntary year for children from age three.

The cantons set the age of enrolment at primary level (kindergarten or a first learning cycle). Children who have reached the respective age by the specified cut-off date (this is usually 31 July) start primary education at the beginning of the school year (autumn). Children are generally between four and five years old. At the parents' request, enrolment at an earlier or later date can be arranged.