Monday, 1 February 2016

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO START SCHOOL?






It's such an exciting time when children start school. It can also be an emotional time too though - for them and you! Both of you need to let go, but there can be rewards from that as well. They gain a greater sense of independence - as do you. They also learn skills and start to forge their way in the world - navigating friendships and relationships with peers and teachers. There are also responsibilities to learn.

I remember a few years ago going to a talk at a prospective school for our son. The principal said that children didn't need to know how to read or write before starting school - what was more important was that they had the necessary social skills. That they could have the confidence to ask someone where the toilet was, or that they could explain to their teacher that they had forgotten their lunch. That always stuck with me.

People often say you know when your child is ready for school. However, sometimes age cut-offs can blur the issue. Our son's birthday is in June. In Australia that means he had to either be one of the youngest or one of the eldest. Everyone I spoke to said it's better to hold children back, especially boys as they can lag behind girls academically at school. That if you hold them back they are more confident as they are more adept at many levels.

In many regards this advice is true. However, as is often the case, it's not true for everyone. 

I often wonder if we did the right thing holding our son back. He is one of the eldest in his class, and has excelled at school. He is confident socially and mature. And maybe this might not have happened if we had pushed him ahead. However, there have been many times over the past year or so that he's expressed boredom with the set school work.

School age isn't such an issue for our eldest daughter as she was born in August. And while she has always been more attached as a child, over the past year it's been apparent that she was ready for the next step. She had her first day at pre-kindy today, and it was a joy to watch the mature and confident girl that she has become. There was a little apprehension when I left but not really any tears. It was a proud moment, and I knew that we had done the right thing. That she was ready.

For our youngest, born in May, we will again face the question of whether to hold her back or push her forward. Time will still tell. However, as she is the third child, she is already confident and capable on many levels. But there are skills she will need. This time I won't be as hesitant to push her forward though.

Would love to know about your children - and their experiences of being pushed forward or held back. What has worked (or not) for you?

School girl is wearing an outfit from Olive Juice.

images the indigo crew

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