Holding Summer born boy back a year

(97 Posts)
Oopla Fri 01-Feb-13 19:57:55

DS is a July baby and started nursery the sept after he turned 3. I'm thinking of asking his nursery teachers if it would be possible for him to stay another year in preschool.
He has settled ok in nursery but doesn't particularly look forward to going (is a real homebody) and its taking him a whole to get used to the social side of things. In my heart I don't think he's emotionally ready for full days and more structure. Not keen on him being the smallest boy in the class either.

It's a standard state nursery attached to a primary, not sure if they will just laugh me out the room! Can you think of the pros and cons of this idea or any thoughts about it? Many thanks.

lingle Sun 03-Feb-13 21:02:24

And can you imagine if, at that meeting when DS2 was 4.10, the SENCO had said "he's ready for the demands of reception now - so we'll place him in Year 1".

When the rule-changed was first threatened, the nursery nurse was so disturbed she said "we wouldn't do that to him - we just wouldn't".

I think those who insist on rigidly lack belief in the potential of certain children with delays to overcome them.

lingle Sun 03-Feb-13 21:04:29

sorry - didn't realise the "some child has to be considered unimportant because that's convenient for paperwork" argument could still make me so angry.

OP - there is nothing in your post to suggest your child won't thrive in his default year.

mrz Sun 03-Feb-13 21:08:13

I don't think anyone is responding to Feenie as if she is making it up just pointing out that her LEA is unusual

MerlotAndMe Sun 03-Feb-13 21:16:27

My son couldnt even hold a pencil at barely four. being in ireland it was my choice to hold him back. i dont know how boys like my son would cope at just four. he would have been wandering around the classroom, not motivated to do anything just becauseveverybody else was doing it. it took him til 5 to get to that point.

Coconutty Costa Rica Sun 03-Feb-13 21:17:44

DS1 is in the year below his 'correct' age, he was born at the very end of August and he has totally thrived, I really believe that he will do so much better than if he had been in the year up.

He agrees and is in year 10 now. Private school, so quite common for kids to be out of year, some up some down depending on the child.

christinecagney Sun 03-Feb-13 21:22:38

I wonder if we are in the same LA Feenie... I'm a Ht and I have out of year group children, not often but sometimes and it's really not a big deal to organise. Secondary schools honour the arrangement and apart from a few extra phone calls around admissions time it's all quite straight forward. Key thing seems to be that the Ht is willing to take full responsibility for the decision i.e not blame the LA if it doesn't work out!

takeaway2 Sun 03-Feb-13 21:23:02

In my DS's reception class there was an extra child in there who they/he referred to as big boy X (because there was another X but he's the little boy X). This big boy was called that because he was physically bigger than everyone but turns out he also theoretically belongs to the year 1 class above.

Apparently he didn't attend a lot of reception year (don't know actual reasons) and so the school has allowed him to spend half his time at year R and the other time in year 1. Since January, he's moved permanently to the year 1 class.

lingle Sun 03-Feb-13 21:29:57

Mrz: the language used was "if that really is the case".

TalkinPeace2 Sun 03-Feb-13 21:34:29

Lingle - you misunderstand me.
I jumped the year at the END of primary - I missed most of old lower 3rd and is now year 6
I was in a class with girls 18 months older than me - which when they hit 17 was a nightmare

I totally support cutoff dates because they give clarity.
DS is 27 August. One week later and he'd have been the year below.
Thank goodness he was not.

ANY good school has differentiated learning so that all pupils thrive
stop being precious about your summer babies till you knoe the makeup of the whole class

lingle Sun 03-Feb-13 21:35:07

It's so lovely to hear that Feenie's LEA still just quietly gets on with it

(especially as it is next to mine smile)

I have never ever heard any Scottish poster wishing they had no choice.

lingle Sun 03-Feb-13 21:39:51

Talkinpeace - I understand that you jumped a year. That does sound horrible and unwise.

The question of whether a small child should be allowed to start reception at 5.0 is not best considered by testimony about the very different problems you encountered.

Goldchilled7up Sun 03-Feb-13 21:44:20

I'm also concerned about this, and wish I could defer a year. My july born son is smart but very immature emotionally. What are the differences between nursery and reception classes, is it just the longer days or the curriculum?

lingle Sun 03-Feb-13 21:44:28

gosh, "precious" really wasn't very nice.

It makes me realise just how lucky DS2 and I were to be in the school we were with the head and nursery manager we had.

Our problem was treated with compassion by my peers - guess I was lucky there too. You can trust me that at that time no-one feared DS2 might outshine their own child by being ten days older..... (except maybe the head who remained determined to believe in his capacity to progress despite the depressing meetings with outside experts).

Lostonthemoors Sun 03-Feb-13 21:54:18

The 'precious' comment is a bit unkind.

I don't think many people want the hassle of trying to fight to hold a child back unless there is a real issue.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 03-Feb-13 21:55:16

Lingle
the vast, vast bulk of the population have bugger all choice in this matter.
Hence the schools are geared up to cope.

My son was four years and one week when I first dropped him off in Year R .
He was a baby.
Now he's a year 8 neanderthal the same height as me and being young in his year is no longer an issue.

Parents worry about it for no reason and to no good end as its a problem that will go away on its own.

tiggytape Sun 03-Feb-13 22:23:51

and Tiggy tape,
"Somebody has to be forced to be the youngest" is, I can only hope, not something you would have dared say to my face, and not something you would say if you knew my story. Show some basic compassion. These are children like yours we are talking about.

Lingle - Yes I would say it to anybody's face. And perhaps you wouldn't speak to me in that tone if you knew my story - I say that as the mother of a Summer born DD with numerous medical and other conditions that affect her life to such a degree that frankly even if she was held back 3 years it still wouldn't help solve some of them! Even now she is years behind in some areas and that will probably never change so I do have a great deal of compassion in such areas....

The OP wasn't talking about children with profound additional needs. Her child has no issues beyond being the youngest in the year and she fears that is a disadvantage. No special circumstances other than that.

So I stand by my comment that yes somebody has to be forced to be the youngest even if their parents feel it is unfair. In England it is August babies. In Scotland it is Autumn babies and in very rare cases (private school and Feenie's LA they make exceptions) but even then there has to be a reason.

There is argument for flexibilty on grounds of additional needs but if you gave every single August baby the option to stay back for no other reason than that they didn't want to be the youngest, all of them would stay down and make the May and June babies the youngest instead.
Then they would feel it is unfair and fear disadvantage and want to stay back a year and so on.
Just like in Scotland where virtually all February and January babies stay back by choice and Autumn babies suddenly are forced to be the youngest in the year. So yes somebody in any class has to be the youngest even if it is agreed that being the youngest is not ideal.

lingle Sun 03-Feb-13 22:35:57

goldchilled - depends on the school but essentially they will do all they can to "shelter" him right up to reception and even into year 1.

Tiggytape, you obviously agree with me as you say "there is argument for flexibility on grounds of additional needs" so let's leave it there.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Sun 03-Feb-13 22:45:26

There are 30 children in a class.

There are 12 months in a year.

So there are 2.5 children per birth month in the class on average i.e. 5 born between 1st July and 31st August ie one sixth of the class. It's not one "young" child in a sea of September-borns. I think our school also balanced the classes so each had a spread of birthdays, though obviously not possible with one-form entry.

Teachers are well aware of the need to allow for age along with allowing for parental circumstances, additional needs (supported by SEN provision where required), children's temperaments etc. it really is something they can handle and the variation due to age may well be much less than that due to the other factors listed.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Sun 03-Feb-13 22:46:06

They=the teachers.

tiggytape Sun 03-Feb-13 22:55:06

lingle - I do agree with that yes. Technically that exists already though (in theory at least) because LAs can agree to hold a child back if an expert asserts that it is necessary. In practice though it is very rare and hardly any of them will agree to it.

It certainly won't happen for children just because they are young and flexibility for those children would just force the June babies to be the youngest instead. There is no cure to the whole youngest in the class problem for children with no additional needs or for children with additional needs that would not specifically benefit from 1 year extra in nursery. Nobody wants to be the youngest but along the line somebody has to be.

Goldchilled - the main difference can be a much longer day (for some children not used to fulltime daycare or nursery) and slightly more stucture. Mainly it is still learning through play and exploring and socialising and all the other stuff they do at Pre School and nursery. As lingle says - this approach extends into the first term of Year 1 in many schools too.

mrz Mon 04-Feb-13 07:16:32

Over half of my current class were born between the beginning of June and the end of August. I only have 4 children who were born before Christmas and 2 of those have "extreme" SEN.

Farewelltoarms Mon 04-Feb-13 09:56:20

I agree with all those who have pointed out that there are so many variables in educational outcome and birthdate is only one of them. And, frankly, in comparison to the influence of socio-economic background it's pretty negligible. Even by posting your worries on a forum like this, you're showing yourself to be involved and interested in education which gives your dc's a massive advantage that I'd argue outweighs the (genuine) disadvantage of being summer born.
In my ds's class the three very low achieving children are all born in September. Other factors have outweighed the advantage of being older (though one is vg at football...). Had they been born a few weeks earlier they'd have been in the year above and you could argue that they would have been good cases for being held back a year given how poorly they are performing even in the year below. But I can tell you with certainty that their parents would never have argued for that, they'd have been totally unaware of the issues. If you give parents a choice, you immediately discriminate against children whose parents are less interested or aware. Then you end up with an even wider range of ages (the eldest being born in July but held down, the youngest born the following August but not held down).
Most parents don't even know about this summer born business. I remember talking to one mother who was furious that her september born daughter wasn't going up to reception with her (slightly older) friends and how she couldn't afford the extra childcare costs that this led to.
ps caveat - I do think there should be exceptions when the EDD of premature babies falls in the later year.

Farewelltoarms Mon 04-Feb-13 09:57:49

Oh and another ps - half of my daughter's class are born in the June, July and August. Your child will not be alone.

tiggytape Mon 04-Feb-13 10:36:39

Farewell - DD's class falls like that as well. Some years it seems that the September babies are totally in the minority and I agree birth date is just one thing that affects potential outcomes. One of the arguments against parental choice (quite aside from problems it would cause) is that parents who could afford an extra year paying fees would be more likely to opt for it than those who couldn't and relied on free daytime childcare. If there is flexibility, it has to be based on need which is theoretically what exists already albeit with such high degrees of professional evidence required that hardly anyone qualifies.

For example in Scotland there is nothing to stop November babies being kept back too (the Jan and Feb babies can stay back pretty automatically which forces the Autumn ones into becoming the youngest in the class instead) but they don't get the funding - so whereas the Jan and Feb babies can have free nursery places for a whole extra year, the November babies would need their parents to pay.

Most people wishing to hold their child back have a desire more than a need to do so eg concerns over immaturity levels that are totally appropriate to a child that is only 3 or 4 years old or concerns that any Summer born is statistically disadvantaged and the wish to avoid this even if there is no specific reason to think their own child will suffer.

lingle Mon 04-Feb-13 10:45:51

I think what we're getting to here is that

- yes there's a huge question mark about why we start so early in England. But meanwhile...

- it's entirely legitimate to be concerned about summer-borns as a population. The statistics are on your side. But statistics tell us nothing about a particular child, and, as farewell says, the very fact that a parent expresses concern suggests that the child falls in the "well supported" group, and this is (statistically again) to be a bigger factor in their life chances than birth month.

- schools are aware of the issue, to an extent, though some are better than others. If you're worried about your August born despite them being fairly typical for a child of their own birth month, then good strategies include: (i) going for mixed entry schools - this gives teachers a chance to subtly shelter your year 1 child in a mixed reception/year 1 year or, alternatively to shelter your year 2 child in a mixed year 1/year 2 year so they get a bit more time to blossom and (ii) go for a school that is very very confident about teaching around the individual child rather than getting the statistics looking good - so avoid any culture of boasting about all the children reading by the end of reception or anything like that.

- once we get to children with additional needs, it all changes. Year deferral will be of no benefit to some children with special needs whatsoever. But for some (probably characterised by having immaturity plus the potential to veer back towards typical development levels, including those who have had a development pause and some premature children) it can be life changing. My son is in that category, as I and my head will testify till we are blue in the face. We've saved the taxpayer umpteen thousands by just giving him time. He would have had a statement had he gone at 4. He needs no intervention at all having gone at 5.

- as Feenie and the ht from her LEA have testified, it's just no big deal administering a school system that allows parents like me, on expert advice, to start their child at 5.

- the solution is to just get on with identifying the children for whom this could change everything - perhaps 1 out of 100 summer borns, pop them into their true peer year rather than their default year and then just forget about it and reap the rewards for the child, class and society. No-one actually disagrees with that - even Jim Rose whose reports led to the rule change.

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