Why summer-born children must have the right to start school later

Uniform; check
School bag; check
Name labels: check
Pep talk and tissues for the school gate; no need this year.

When my son re-starts school Reception for the second time next week, it will be an exciting moment, full of anticipation and promise. Yes, there might be a few tears – he hasn’t been in formal education since we walked out of his previous Reception place at Easter (new readers, check out the post here) – but these wobbles will not shake my soul like they did this time last year. All my instincts tell me we’ve found the right setting this time. And even more importantly, that he’s ready for Reception now.

Starting school take 2

There’s a lot of noise in the media, education and at the school gate about when summer-borns should start school. But unless you’ve stood outside a classroom, peeling your whimpering child from your arms, watching them deteriorate from a confident out-going free-spirit into a timid, anxious wreck, it’s hard to understand why this issue is so important.

I’ll never forget my son’s dramatic regression when he started school; a cry for help that the system refused to hear, such was their hurry to rush him along.

But why? So much evidence overwhelmingly supports a later start to formal education. See more here. This is a time when a few months of leeway and flexibility could make the difference between a child surviving rather than thriving at school. This is a time when a few months of compassion, patience and play could impact their academic achievements and emotional well-being for life.

Luckily we recognised our son wasn’t happy and were able to pull him out until we found a school that would let him drop down a year and repeat Reception when he turned five. But struggling in the system until we managed this was stressful, exhausting and damaging for the whole family, and threatened to have an impact on our son’s learning disposition for life.

I hope his generation of summer-borns are the last forced to deal with ‘too much too soon’ when they start school. Cos four-year-olds are too young to fail.

Good luck at the school gates, all xxx

9 thoughts

  1. I remember your plight well last year and the agony you went through in making a decision. You were so brave taking him out and I admired you trusting your instincts. He will go far with parents like you. So glad that this situation has now been resolved for you and so many others. Nice blog by the way. x
    Suzanne recently posted…One Night in Bali…{Loud ‘n’ Proud}My Profile

  2. Argh! This is what worries me Jude! I want my littlest to thrive, not survive too, but everyone keeps saying ‘you know your child best’ – well, yes I do but a lot’s going to change in the next year, how can I guess now whether he’ll have stopped having ‘little weeing accidents’ when he gets too engrossed in play, or whether he’ll have learnt how to put a top and trousers on on his own, or whether he’ll want to be bothered with trying to write his own name in a year’s time?… I’m so glad you found a solution for your son in the end – the 3 teachers all leaving like that is definitely a sign of something going awry in the background of that school I reckon. I really think the government just wants everyone back in the workforce to boost the economy – that seems to be all they care about. X
    Sam recently posted…How to teach your kids the value of moneyMy Profile

    1. Thanks for reading Sam. I found your post really interesting so hoped you would get the chance to read mine. It is tricky to predict the future. I think I just had a gut feeling that H wasn’t ready – when I compared him to children nearly a year older, who would be in his class, the difference was staggering and I just couldn’t see how he could ever be happy. Their play, humour and interests were on completely different levels. Good luck to you, I’m sure it will all become clear in good time. x

  3. This is interesting. I am an English expat in Australia where the school year starts in January and there is a lot of flexibility in starting age. All kids must be registered in their sixth year but they must be at least 4 years and 9 months to start. My eldest was 4 years and 11 months and it was totally the right thing for him, but if it wasn’t, he could have started the year after. As an expat watching my friend’s kids start the September with their Facebook photos I was baffled by this but now he has started and I see kids nearly a year older than him who would have no way been ready, it totally makes sense. My second son is an August baby which means he will be 5 and a half when he starts, which to me seems a lot better (for him).
    I hope the new school works for you!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. So interesting to hear about another system. I like the sound of the Australian one. Makes much more sense. x

  4. So glad it worked out for you. I’m actually a British expat living in Tanzania, my son goes to an International school here on an American timeline. He starts reception/kindergarten in September this year and he will be nearly 6. It’s so nice not having the pressure! He’s been in preschool for 2 years and it’s just been fantastic to just let him play. I honestly think the Uk are letting children done so much with there school system. My son is a perfectionist and extremely sensitive, I know it would have a had a negative impact on him if he’d started school so young. He just wasn’t ready. And he is in no way any worse off than children who started school earlier, he may not be able to read yet, but dies it really matter? He’ll get there and i’m guessing with a lot less worries and pressure. They also do no type of exams with young children at all, which is great for me as I wouldn’t have let him do them anyway haha! Hope your son has a wonderful time starting school!! xx
    hayley balozi recently posted…I have a son with Down syndrome, but I still believe in your right to choose.My Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge