To defer my child(ren) starting school?

(50 Posts)
NeoShadowChaser Mon 04-Jul-16 12:31:13

I know this is subjective (depending on the child) however I'm considering doing this, not because I think they'll need to defer, but because I am able to.

I have a 3.5yo DS and a baby DD, both their birthdays are Jan/Feb. We live in Scotland so I know this is different than children living in England.

In Scotland if the children turn 4 on their birthdays in September through to February they can start school the following August or they can defer a year. For children to defer with birthdays Sept-Dec they must apply for this giving a reason for deferring and have this accepted by the LA. They do not get funding for nursery places if they defer with birthdays in these months.

However, if they have birthdays in Jan/Feb then they have the automatic right to defer plus they receive goverment funding to attend nursery.

My DS could effectively be starting school a year in August at 4.5yo. I had not considered deferring at all as he is a quick and enthusiatic learner and extremely inquisitive with a thirst for knowledge. I sound like I'm writing his CV but I'm saying this because I think he would enjoy learning at school. To be honest I have no idea how he compares with his peers but we think he is a clever little thing grin. And we think he would enjoy that aspect of school.

I spoke to his Health Visitor about it and she said that learning is only one side of it, he would also have to be emotionally ready for it. Up until he started nursery in Feb he rarely mixed with other children as his childcare are the grandparents. He has come on leaps and bounds since starting nursery and is mixing well with other children as well as now having the confidence to go up and speak to other children when he's at the park etc now as opposed to hiding behind me!

I think in another year he could be "ready" to start school at 4.5yo. However I think we are in a very fortunate position of being able to defer him to give him that extra year before being tied to the structure of school at such a young age. That extra year will make a big difference I feel in terms of him being able to cope better in that type of environment and be completely ready to learn on that level and in that structure. I think it will also make a difference when it comes to him starting secondary school and then sitting his exams as he'll be that bit older - I mean compared to him doing the same a year earlier, not in comparison to his peers.

The reservations I had on deferring were purely selfish - it would be easier for childcare and I was concerned that people would think he wasn't bright enough etc to start school at the "usual" time, especially as I have friends whose children will be going to school at aged 4 with birthdays Sept-Dec. Therefore he will now be a year "behind" them. Another consideration was that he would be bored for that extra year and need the stimulation however he would still be attending nursery 5 days a week and I'm not sure in the grand scheme of things that should put me off when looking at the longer term benefits.

DH and I have discussed it and we are both seriously considering deferring him. We don't have to decide right now but we will before around the New Year. I would take a steer from his nursery teachers (althought the stats I have read say that only 4% of children defer based on what their nursery has said), I was also considering speaking to the school he will be attending to see their thoughts/views.

So WIBU to defer my son based on the reasons I have given? Is there anything I've not considered??

OvO Mon 04-Jul-16 12:41:05

I deferred my DS's (both have November birthdays) and have never regretted it.

Btw, they both had the extra year of nursery funded - it's not an automatic right like with Jan/Feb birthdays but generally if they say yes to the deferral they give the funding too.

All my DS's teachers have been very positive about their deferrals. They were ready for the school environment and have thrived. My youngest is very much an introvert and I worried how he'd cope in school but that extra year made such a difference.

I don't know anyone who has regretted deferring.

witsender Mon 04-Jul-16 12:42:55

I deferred our son who is a May birthday, he can now stay in preschool until he turns 5. We will probably home ed anyway, but gives us more time to decide.

We didn't defer our daughter who was a kid August birthday, and wished we had.

AgentProvocateur Mon 04-Jul-16 12:46:45

Yes, defer. The differences in maturity (especially boys) are huge in S1 and S2.

NeoShadowChaser Mon 04-Jul-16 12:47:34

That's interesting OvO about the funding, I read that on a Scottish education site - can't remember which one though! Maybe it's area specific? Doesn't really matter I guess.

Also interesting that they were November birthdays, I'd personally only heard it discussed in Jan/Feb birthdays until I recently started looking into it.

Was it an easy decision for you? Did you have any qualms about it? Also, did you receive any negative comments from anyone about deferring?

pearlylum Mon 04-Jul-16 12:52:47

I deferred my son who is a November birthday.
You always have the right to do this and don't have to prove anything to the LA.
We received nursery funding as I sent him for only one year ( the year he could have started school).

Our headmaster was very supportive. he told me that he has never seen it a mistake to defer a child, but he has seen it be a mistake to send a 4 yo into P1.

It was absolutely the right decision,and as others have mentioned it is secondary school where the advantages are greatest.

OvO Mon 04-Jul-16 12:55:46

I wonder if they word it so it looks like there would be no funding so it puts people off deferring? <suspicious> grin

I had no qualms, it was an easy decision. With my eldest he was 4 when the forms to start school were to be sent in and in his 4 years he'd moved house 4 times, lost a little brother and gained another brother. We were finally settled and he was enjoying nursery and was then going to have to go through the big change of school.

Nursery were negative about our decision - showed us the forms and all the ticked boxes. Really didn't understand it wasn't about ticking boxes but about his emotional readiness. We just wanted no big changes in his life for a little while longer.

No one else has been negative at all. All other professionals have been positive about it too.

We deferred his little brother too as it had worked out so well with our eldest.

OOAOML Mon 04-Jul-16 12:58:32

We did with my son - he has a January birthday and although his ASD wasn't diagnosed at that stage, it was obvious that he wasn't ready for school.

My own perspective as a January birthday person from an era when deferring wasn't really a big thing, is that it isn't just being ready for school - it is the age you take your exams at and the age you leave school. Different for everyone - but I left school at the end of S6 not remotely ready for university and really struggled. Academically I had been fine all the way through school - but in emotional and maturity terms I really struggled.

Dixiechickonhols Mon 04-Jul-16 12:59:14

If you look on primary education there is a recent long thread re holding back children. Gist seems to be that most Scots do especially in middle class areas and therefore if you don't DC could be the youngest by a decent margin. Lots to think about on there too for future eg youngest starting secondary and university too.

myownprivateidaho Mon 04-Jul-16 13:01:30

As a twenty something I have to day it's nicer to be younger when you finish uni- makes you feel like you have more time to consider your options. I think that at that age, people who've been moved forward a year are glad and those who've been held back a year annoyed. Especially if you're an ambitious woman, it's obviously a good idea to get started in your career earlier (ie establish yourself pre-kids). Just a thought.

Tigurr Mon 04-Jul-16 13:02:45

I waited with my 2nd child. Where I live the school year runs Jan-Dec and the cut off is 31st July for enrolling. So my mid-June child could have started at 4.5yrs (the January after her 4th birthday). However the law is that they must be in school by the time they turn 6. Therefore most parents with kids having birthdays in May/June/July wait until they are 5.5. In my area many parents even defer their February-onwards kids.

I do wish the education department would just make one definitive date and stick with it though as it was a decision we struggled with initially. Also, because so many kids in my area turn 6 in that first year of school, the pressure is on to defer as otherwise your kid could be a good 18 months younger than their class mates.

The first year of school here is more like uk year 1, rather than reception, which does make a difference to my outlook too. The expectations are higher than a reception child.

Overall we are glad we waited the extra year. Cost us a bomb in preschool fees (no free places or subsidised fees here) but was worth it. Child is now in year 1 (equiv to year 2 uk) and thriving

OvO Mon 04-Jul-16 13:06:44

I wish I'd been deferred. I stared university when still 17 and was really not ready for it.

Gatehouse77 Mon 04-Jul-16 13:07:46

I deferred all of mine until the term after their 5th birthday. No concerns about them academically, as with your son, but was in no rush for them start full time school. Plus, it gave them each an extra term at their (Montessori) nursery where they could be more emotionally mature. Specifically, for the eldest it was his only chance of being the oldest as his birthday is the end of July.

VioletBam Mon 04-Jul-16 13:12:06

I would have if I had the choice. My poor DD1 was only just turned 4 when she had to begin and she was no way ready.

Mirandawest Mon 04-Jul-16 13:12:38

From what I've heard from both teachers and parents in Scotland, very few if any people have regretted making the decision to defer.

DailyMailEthicalFail Mon 04-Jul-16 13:19:00

My ds was an Sept b'day (and he was 'early') so should have been an Oct baby. I was told I couldn't defer, although he very obviously wasn't ready.

He repeated P1 as a consequence (as he didn't cope). It's been a disaster.

blueskyinmarch Mon 04-Jul-16 13:19:59

My DD2 is a December birthday. She started the Scottish school system at 4.5 an did okay but wasn’t really flourishing. We then moved area and sent her to a private school in what should have been P7 for her. They didn’t have space in that year so she went in to P6 instead.

Fast forward a number of years and she is now 18 and just left school. If she had stayed in the Scottish system she would have left last year and by her own admission she would not have been nearly ready for uni at age 17. The extra year has given her more confidence and more maturity. She is certainly ready now. I think deferring is a great idea.

bigkidsdidit Mon 04-Jul-16 13:25:04

I didn't, and my DS has just finished p1. He was the youngest p1. I thought about it for a long time but he was completely school ready, all his pals were going and academically he was fine. It helps I think he is big (DH, at 6 foot 1, is the smallest man in the family) so playground games aren't a problem.

Someone has to be the youngest, so I wouldn't automatically defer.

bigkidsdidit Mon 04-Jul-16 13:26:01

Btw he's had a fantastic year smile

CostaAddict Mon 04-Jul-16 13:27:36

My DS is a Jan birthday and we deferred. Best decision we ever made. Academically he probably would have coped but social/emotionally he needed an extra year to mature.

Looking back I had a few wobbles about not sending him with his nursery peers (he was the only deferred child) but he would of struggled. He's just finished P1 and academically he's a level further than expected. He does have mild ASD plus a few health issues but nothing major that stands him apart from his friends.

Talking to other parents that have deferred, not one of us has regretted it smile

SantanaLopez Mon 04-Jul-16 13:31:51

The only parent I ever heard regretting deferring was someone whose DD had to sit the first CfE exams.

I would definitely be deferring next year- that's the first year of the P1 assessments, isn't it?

bigkidsdidit Mon 04-Jul-16 13:35:53

A lot of people in my area defer so their children have more chance of being top of he class. It makes me uneasy. Not so they'll fulfil their potential, but so they'll be top. And in the rugby team (I hear that a lot). It seems so sharp elbowed

cozietoesie Mon 04-Jul-16 13:37:17

A while back - when parents were perhaps less certain on it - I heard a very experienced professional talking informally about deferral. She said that she'd never known a child that didn't catch up/benefit from deferral but had encountered many children who were affected adversely by going too early.

She was all for it if it was doable. smile

bigkidsdidit Mon 04-Jul-16 13:41:37

Maybe I think it about it differently because I'm English, and went to school at 4.1 (and ended up with a PhD). DS going at 4.8 seemed completely normal and ok to me.

LunaLoveg00d Mon 04-Jul-16 13:44:23

I don't know any parents who have deferred their children and regretted it. I do know parents who sent children at 4.5 and they struggled. One child repeated P2 as they were struggling so much.

Remember too that your deferred Feb-born will only be 3 or 4 weeks older than my first week of March birthday child when he started school.

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