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.
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