I read this article with great interest and much concern. My 4 yr old daughter, born at the end of August already shows some signs of a lack of confidence and poor concentration when compared to the older kids in her class. Not surprising as some of them are almost a whole year older. It worries me that she could potentially always be behind and I often question if we made the right decision in starting her schooling at age 4. I'd be interested in your thoughts and experiences of summer babies in this context. Any tips on confidence issues? And does anyone have a view on the issue of streaming as mentioned in the article? Her school are about to sort the kids but have not yet decided how. Her teacher said they might do it by age, ability or random. I was keen on the former as it would mean she stays in a class of 20 as opposed to a class of 30.
The debate about "redoublement" (repeating a year at school) as well "le saut de classe" (jumping a year) rages as always in France, the world champion of the practice. Parents are very attached to the idea that their own DC will do better a year ahead or a year below his/her calendar intake, and teachers love the system as it removes responsibility from teachers for a child's progress in a particular yeargroup.
But all the research points to the fact that DC do best when in their own calendar year group at school.
I agree with WF. I do think some atributes are fixed at birth.
Even at nursery DD2 was showing an uncanny aptitude for numbers/maths - the staff regularly commented on it. I genuinely think this was something she was born with, and inherited from DH, who was exactly the same.
"But all the research points to the fact that DC do best when in their own calendar year group at school. "
I think if you're going to take children outside default year groups, it's best do it at the start. No-one thinks of DS2 as a child how "ought" to be in Year 3 - they've all forgotten he ever could have been....and he isn't yet aware of it.
Both of mine are late summer born and DS1 was way behind for the first couple of years in school because he took a long time to master reading which impacts on your ability to access other subjects. Now in Yr5 he has largely caught up.
In fact their birthdays were one of the reasons I went down the private school route because I thought the smaller classes would be an advantage. The school doesn't set formally until Yr6 I assume because it isn't problematic differentiating on an individual basis if you have 15 children to one teacher and one TA. The other thing that the school does is to mix up the classes each year (3 classes per year group) so in-class groups are split up. Because the classes are small, everyone gets to be star of the week and everyone gets to speak in class assemblies.
I agree that setting is only worthwhile if it is fluid and based on current acheivement levels. If DS1 had been put in a stream in Yr1 and that level had defined his school career from thereon it would have failed him hugely.
reawakeningambition - even if it is done at the start, I think that problems can arise later on and it is really hard on DC to repeat a year if they have been ahead. I have very strong feelings on this matter as both my sister and I were bumped up a year very early on. My sister, who is December-born, stayed in the year above her correct-for-age year all the way through and bitterly regrets it (despite Cambridge degree, MA and PhD) whereas I, as June-born child, was made by a school I moved to when we moved house to repeat a year (fortunately early on - I was mighty bored). My DP also got bumped up a year before entering primary and stayed a year ahead until he was 14, when school insisted on him repeating. He hated it, though admitted it was absolutely the right thing - he had found primary school very easy but every year in secondary became more of a struggle. Perhaps unsurprisingly we have quite a few "year ahead" friends and they none of them ever want their own DC to go through that. Many of our friends have had problems arise much later in life due to maturity issues that weren't sorted in adolescence...
My nephew in France (now aged just 15) jumped a class at the end of maternelle. Since he went to secondary school, this has become more and more of a problem as he doesn't have the maturity to have the workload in a sensible way, especially as he has coasted through with average marks without needing to work. He's just realising now that maybe he needs to stretch himself a bit and do better. My sister has had to coax him a lot and I think she is regretting having allowed him to jump a class, even though she did it with very good and particular reasons in mind.
Bonsoir, I hear your testimony about your experience and that of your sister. My uncle's life has been similarly damaged after being sent up to Cambridge at the age of 16 (ridiculous). But you need to bear in mind that, for some infants, being placed in their default year would result in an experience very similar to the one your sister had.
If DS2s' secondary school were to make him jump 6 year now, we would again end up with similar problems to your sister. Does that mean I should have sent him to school at 4? No, I would not think so for a single moment. Because at 4 we bump into an absolute fact - he couldn't access the curriculum. So you can't project to 18 and work backwards with a child. You have to look at 3 and 4 year olds and accept that some of them are not at a stage where it is in their interests to join the default year - they need more time.
To put it another way, the "bored" able September-born problem (that you and your sibling faced) is totally different in kind to that of the 3.11 year old August-born who will not be able to access the reception curriculum in a month. The September-born's problems would be solved by excellent teaching and adequate funding, whereas bumping her up a year is a cue for social struggles (which I think is what you are indicating about your family's experience and certainly has been in my uncle's case). The 3/4 year old who cannot access the curriculum yet but might still even out needs their peer group adjusting, and they need time.
Thankfully, DS2 should be able to stay in his offset year provided we remain in Bradford LEA. He has no idea that we made a decision about his year-group. He wasn't conscious enough at 4 to have any sense of what was happening. Socially, year 2 is his correct year - his skills fall roughly within the year2 level, not within the year 3 level. But we know that this was the right decision because, after the "extra" year (or extra 11 days, really), he has kept pace with his adjusted peer group at all times.
reawakeningambition - every case is different and there will always be some exceptional cases where being out-of-year is the right thing for an individual child. But they are that: exceptions. It is of course very difficult to know when a child is young how it will all "turn out in the wash", whichever decision is made.
yes I think that's right Bonsoir. A friend also year deferred - her son had a similar profile to mine. After a couple of years, the school were begging her to move him up to his default year - he was too far ahead at maths but not mature enough to cope with being the "cleverest".
But again, they offered flexibility, not a one-size-fits-all solution
Anyway, all this has freaked me out a bit, so I've called up Bradford to make sure my year-deferred child won't be forced to miss year 6. The answer: "of course not - why would we do that to him?" reinforces everything we've both been saying I think.