Start school aged 6 or 7

(42 Posts)
strokey Wed 11-Sep-13 23:09:32

I am THRILLED to read this. Mine are due back on the 23rd and Ive been feeling really torn about my 5 year old going into year 1 as he didn't go to reception, but 5 is the compulsory school age.

This has made up my mind to register him as home educated.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 12-Sep-13 07:00:38

So you're registering him as home educated but you won't actually be educating him? hmm

Flossiechops Thu 12-Sep-13 07:05:24

Completely disagree - my dc school has a learning is fun ethos and I can honestly say that I do not think they have suffered any long term damage by starting school at 4 (dd was a wk off her 5th birthday as a September baby). What about working parents who can't keep their dc at home - these children will end spending longer in day nurseries/ with childminders anyway!

meditrina Thu 12-Sep-13 07:05:25

Note that it says "formal" schooling, which only begins now in year 1 (5/6 year olds) anyhow.

The article does not mention EYFS (other than to criticise proposals to change some of the assessment within it) and does not make it clear that the EYFS is essentially a kindergarten stage - something which also exists in Scandinavia.

chickensaladagain Thu 12-Sep-13 07:09:09

The problem with school start age is there is no one size fits all

My dds were both more than ready to start school and formal learning at 4 but my friend's little boy really struggled probably for the first couple of years and it only fell into place as he started ks2

meditrina Thu 12-Sep-13 07:16:50

The Swedish curriculum starts for 1 year olds, BTW, and includes maths and numeracy targets. It's called preschool, until primary starts at 7 years old. They just describe infants schools as 'not at school' and have one extra year when attendance remains optional. But there is a high take up rate; so children start education outside the home (whether you call it school or not) just as young or even younger than in Britain.

working9while5 Thu 12-Sep-13 07:20:35

Love Gove's comments hmm. It is all just nonsense. No evidence that promoting three Rs so early will make any positive long term difference. He has such Victorian attitudes.

takeaway2 Thu 12-Sep-13 07:25:46

I agree with the previous posters who say that the kids will still be with a child minder or nursery till 7 for those of us who are full time working parents. My son is 5 and is in year 1 this year. He's really enjoyed reception and so far year 1 has been great. He's learnt to read to a level of a year 2 apparently and absolutely loves maths and science.

The point made by others which was excluded from the article is also v significant. Other countries cited have a kindergarten stage and these kids are learning to read and write then. In Singapore for example which is constantly brought up in comparison... Kids go to kindergarten from 3... And granted it is for 4 hours or so. But parents then pay for what they call extra curriculum stuff like dance, Chinese calligraphy, Chinese lessons, math enrichment etcetc.

It is perhaps young but the EYFS curriculum is very much play orientated and so I don't see it any different from the notion of kindy.

meditrina Thu 12-Sep-13 07:26:15

Have you read the Swedish early years curriculum? Britain is not alone in introducing 3 Rs "early", and the Early Years curriculum isn't a Gove initiative (introduced by Labour).

I know it's a knee-jery to "blame Gove" for anything and everything here (huge amounts of astroturfing, and often oddly harmonised with similar posts on other websites). But it's surely wrong to do so for things the previous administration did?

working9while5 Thu 12-Sep-13 07:28:29

Meditrina the Swedish curriculum is goal oriented vs target oriented with an emphasis on values, themes and play and not formal assessment of children. It is so different in philosophy and ethos to what Gove is suggesting it seems crazy that the word 'curriculum' can even apply to both. Chalk and cheese.

Tanith Thu 12-Sep-13 07:29:23

The British curriculum starts from birth and is called the EYFS. It includes children in the reception year. My DD started last week - she was 4 in August, is the smallest child in the school and is petted by the big girls in Y2 (which she appears to be taking in her stride smile)

She's OK. There are other children in her class who are already having problems. I know my DS would not have coped at the same age. He definitely struggled badly in Y1, not because he isn't academic but because he just wasn't ready socially or emotionally.

I see there are plans being made to lower the school age even further. Liz Truss's proposals include starting 2 year olds in schools. They have already canvassed for interested parties in bringing this about.

Meglet Thu 12-Sep-13 07:31:07

After 4yrs of 'learning through play' at nursery my dc's were more than ready for school. DS only really cheered up when the reception playing stopped and the formal learning began. Delaying more formal education would have made him (and me) miserable.

Wishihadabs Thu 12-Sep-13 07:34:10

Strokey are you planning to he completely or until 11 ? If not I would think very carefully about what you are is your Ds going to integrate at year 2, when they can all read and write and will be working towards SATs.

meditrina Thu 12-Sep-13 07:37:06

I know that. The newspaper article is all about having a pop at assessment measures. It's not about when "school" starts, and I was trying to make that clear (and thanks Tanith for doing so rather better than I did).

strokey Thu 12-Sep-13 10:38:49

Wish - No Ill only keep him home until he is 6 or 7. Ill see how he is next year.

I don't know about SG but in Denmark although they are all in nursery from a few months old there is no reading or writing (at least) until aged 7. My husband is Danish and we lived there until a few years ago. They might do counting, but not sit down at a desk learning.

We were shown round the school the other day and all the Yr 1s (where my ds would've started) were sat at desks wearing uniforms. Just felt so premature.

All kids are different though, I know there are some girls in particular who ask for "school work" before they start. And ask how do you spell such and such. My ds has no interest at all, its not for him. Yet.

Dunno what to do with him though.. Im having number 3 in December and don't want him bored at home. I like the idea of Steiner schools, but I got involved with that with my first and found the parents to be quite mad. Mostly tree huggers and vegans and rather extreme in the hatred of TV and plastic toys. Oh and shouting.

Oh as for home educating the law is that you "must provide an education suitable for their age and ability" DOES NOT have to include reading, writing or numeracy. Lots of people purposely AVOID those things. An education can involve bread baking and nature rambles apparently!

ivykaty44 Thu 12-Sep-13 13:06:20

Gove has though said that the 127 experts are misguided, what is Gove expert at, in fact what are his qualifications on education?

I do agree that formal teaching should start later and children should be allowed to play and learn at the same time.

TheHammaconda Thu 12-Sep-13 13:58:08

I thought Gove wanted to model the English and Welsh education systems on the Finnish system where they start school at, er, 7.

Love the consistent approach taken by the DofE.

insideoutsider Thu 12-Sep-13 19:50:15

Gosh. By age 7, I expect my kids to be able to read proper books and write proper letters and add up proper money like I did at their age. When mine went to reception at age 4, they were more than ready for it - as well as most kids in their class.

IMO, asking children to play till they are 'ready' at 7 is so unfair to them.

Pixel Thu 12-Sep-13 23:13:06

Me too insideoutsider. Seven seems awfully old to not be able to read fluently. They should know the joys of getting stuck into a good book by then.

ivykaty44 Fri 13-Sep-13 19:05:15

So if it means that starting formal education at 4 years old has a detrimental effect on their later education and holds them back rather than propelling them forward, why would that be unfair?

If children that start formal education later are doing consistently better at the end of their education why would that be?

bugster Fri 13-Sep-13 19:25:41

inside and pixel I used to think as you do. I live in Switzerland, the children were born here, and school starts at 6 or 7, depending on when in the year their birthday is. Before school they go to kindergarten which does involve some learning aims but they are about social and emotional development and pre-reading skills, not actually reading. Having been to school in England from just 4 I thought the Swiss approach was crazy at first but having experienced it with my children I think it's good. My older daughter would have been ready to start formal learning at 4 or 5 but delaying that for 2 years was no problem for her, she had fun doing other things. When she started school it was incredible how quickly she started reading books, compared with what seems to be a long and laborious process in England as far as I can make out.

My younger daughter is in kindergarten and loves playing, formal learning at 4 would definitely not have been for her.

Pixel Fri 13-Sep-13 22:44:34

Well, maybe you are right about 'laborious' but do you think that could be the teaching methods rather than anything to do with the age they start? My sister and I could both read before we went to school and so could my dd who started at 4.5. There were no 'lessons' just plenty of exposure to books and reading (my mum got me my own library ticket at 2 to stop me being upset cos I wanted hers and I just carried it on with dd smile) and it seemed to come very naturally. I don't see how I could have stopped her learning until the age of seven without a book-ban!
I know children learn at a different pace and not all of them find reading easy but I still can't see how they can get to seven and be completely ignorant of the basics, so surely when they start school they would all be at different stages? Wouldn't that make it harder for the teachers?

insideoutsider Sat 14-Sep-13 19:20:59

I think it works well in other countries because they have a better educational structure that works in the later stages. If the UK changes early education, everything later - from age 7 till 18 and beyond would have to be overhauled to achieve the same results as those other countries.

MsMarple Sun 15-Sep-13 21:59:42

Just from personal experience, I think formal learning introduced too soon can be damaging. My son had a great time in reception - he thought he played all day, but somehow learnt to read pretty well, and lots about space/dinosaurs/farms etc too. Now after a few weeks in year 1 he doesn't want to go to there anymore, and is resistant to things he associates with learning and school. So, whereas in the holidays he was often writing bits and pieces (of his own volition) now he tells me he doesn't like writing and wouldn't even do a birthday card when I asked. I wish they could continue the early years approach into year 1, and 2. From what I see they do learn things, and also get to play creatively and have fun.

It makes me a bit sad to think that some 5 or 6 year olds could be bored of playing!

cory Mon 16-Sep-13 08:40:50

When I started school in Sweden at nearly 7, we did start by learning the alphabet. Of course a couple of us had already taught ourselves to read before then: in a literate society you can't stop someone who really wants to.

However, I do not think even the children who hadn't done this, even the very gifted ones, had spent the preceding 6/7 years being frustrated or unhappy because they "weren't learning". The way we saw it, reading books was one (albeit very enjoyable) part of all the learning you were supposed to do when you grew up. There were so many other fascinating things you had to learn too; and they were all valued by the society we lived in.

As a 7yo I was also expected to know:

how to bake a cake without help

how to do basic sewing and embroidery

how to do woodwork and basic carpentering, using a hammer and saw

how to swim and understand about basic life-saving

how to fish and gut a fish

how to keep safe in the woods and what to do if lost

how to ski and skate

how to fix lunch

how to do basic foraging and bring back berries for jam making

how to recognise plants and herbs around our house and know which ones were edible, which were poisonous and which were protected

how to prepare a wall or other structure for painting and how to paint

how to do basic gardening

My db who was more into technical things also had a good grasp of basic electrics and mechanics by this age, fixing domestic appliances around the house.

If any DIY was being done about the house, I would be expected to join in; I helped out in the kitchen; I even did some of the laundry.

Of course some of these things were dependent on where we lived, but most of them (baking, using hammer and saw) are the kind of things that could go on in any household, however urban; they were the things that grown-ups did and that made you feel grown-up.

The British system, it seems to me, rests equally on the (reasonable) assumption that learning to read English will take longer than learning to read a phonetic language and the (unreasonable) assumption that all the learning children can profitably do comes out of books.

A child who thinks he isn't learning if he is cooking family supper but only if he is doing worksheets has got that idea from somewhere.

afussyphase Mon 16-Sep-13 13:03:55

And have you all heard about how they fund CHILDCARE in Sweden? Makes me weep with envy. Full time places for ~100 Euro/month. Parents who stay at home compensated at commensurate rates.

This would massively help women who want to do so remain in their careers. It would hugely reduce the earning gap between men and women. It would keep people off benefits who can't earn enough to cover childcare.

Start school later? Sure. But right now this would have a big impact on many families, preventing many parents going back to work for another year.

cory Mon 16-Sep-13 22:36:48

I know afussyphase. I used to be a tax payer in Sweden. Didn't grudge the money in the least.

Though to be fair, the childhood I described was before subsidised nurseries.

TheLeftovermonster Tue 17-Sep-13 22:40:25

The weird thing about primary school is that it starts with too much too soon, and then, towards the end, is way too relaxed.

mam29 Wed 18-Sep-13 09:31:23

sweeden sounds fab.

im trying to teach my kids these practical things least

forgaing and cooking.

took 7year old b&q diy class she loved it sh was nervous to see jigsaw in her hand.

all mine love gardening

giveitago Wed 18-Sep-13 14:19:11

ds has just started junior school. He now sits at a desk. He never had one before. Prior to this is was learning through play at his infant school.

Fine by me. He's an only child. I work. I cannot home school (why would I want to?). My ds got alot from going to nursery (and private nursery before 3) - so much more than I could have given him.

I just don't get the problem. Really don't. I don't understand the so called rigours of early year education as I've seen zero. I've seen toys and no desks.

Ds did no reading or writing at his state nursery. Is this not normal?

tooyoungforschool123 Wed 18-Sep-13 23:47:33

My daughter has entered year 1 of primary school as is so unhappy with the more formal learning . She is a summer born. 27th August 2008.
She started reception in April and enjoyed the play based learning. She really needs this reception time now too. There seems to be too much of a jump to formal learning in Year 1. This particularly doesn't suit my child.
There should be a choice for such late summer born children to start reception from age 5. If she had been born 4 days later school would have worked for her. She would be starting reception now.
I am seriously considering taking her out of school for a year to home educate.

BrokenSunglasses Thu 19-Sep-13 08:38:12

The majority of children in reception and Y1 cope well with it. They like the activities on offer and they learning they do, they don't just sit at desks listening to a teacher ramble on about things they have no interest in all day.

I think the children who don't cope with it are the minority, and it's up to the parents of those children to do what they have to do to adjust things for their own children.

lollylaughs Thu 19-Sep-13 08:56:45

This is how it is currently in SA. They start formal schooling in January of the year they turn 7. A lot of times, they don't start until the following year, the year they turn 8 as those with birthdays in November or December are essentially a year younger. This has to be motivated though by the pre-primary and education department. There are some instances where a child starts earlier, but this also has to follow the same procedure.

Pre-primary is not classed as formal schooling, and only some primary schools have an pre-primary class. Usually this is a class at crèche or day care. It is encouraged though. I have read that within the next few years all pre-primary classes will be linked to a particular primary school.

Having had one child start school in UK at age 4 and one child start schooling in SA at age 6.5, I personally feel the system here is better as my ds was most definitely not ready emotionally at age 4 to start school.

We pay school fees for state school (but this does depend of the type of school in your area, this is a whole other thread) so financially there is no pressure to send children sooner as pre-school and school fees are about the same.

MrsDibble Thu 19-Sep-13 11:11:31

My nearly 5 year old was desperate to start school and seems to be really loving it so far.

So I wouldn't have been pleased if she was not able to start until later. However, I accept all children' are different and more choice might be helpful.

They do seem to be learning through play at her school, though, at least in reception. They have a number of activities set out in the classroom and the children can move around choosing between the different learning activities. They do have some time learning all together, but some of this time seems to involve things like dancing to music. :-)

MrsDibble Thu 19-Sep-13 11:11:52


I think that basically the system needs more flexibility. Dd1 was not ready when she started at 4.5, ds is not quite 4, but every day he asks when he can go into reception as his friends have just started. He reads at least 3 reading books a day, can count to 20 in English and French and can do simple arithmetic. He is ready to learn, dd1 wasn't. She has now caught up with the children who are like ds is now - it's not that ds is a genius and she isn't, he wants to learn, she didn't, she just wasn't ready at 4.5. She spent the first two years dragging against the system, still not too sure what the long term impact will be emotionally as she still reminices about life when she could just play.

In Scotland at least you can delay children, so most of them are approaching 5 before they start. Ds would like even more flexibility and Sept starters to be able to start early if they are ready! I am pleased he is around for a bit longer but he is getting frustrated.

BrokenSunglasses Thu 19-Sep-13 19:28:36

I agree more flexibility is needed, even if it were just within the system we already have. There are a lot of just turned four year olds that have started full time this month, with that being their only option unless their parents go completely against the grain.

There are also a lot of four year olds that are all over the place at the moment doing just mornings, just afternoons or a random combination of both, when they are ready to go full time.

There is definitely space in most schools to improve induction procedures so that they fit children rather than schools.

MortifiedAdams Thu 19-Sep-13 19:56:16

OP if you plan on HE til seven, then it would be mean of you to not teach your dc to read, write and do basic math.

In my opinion, you are duty bound to teach him up to a level that will facilitate his.move into mainstream school.

storkey- have you checked out the home ed section on here? There are loads of really lovely home ed mums who will be happy to help with any questions you have about HE. I home educated my daughter for 2 years. I took her out of her small private school, as she was going down hill and was very unhappy. She has severe learning disability, but is interested in everything! I put her into school at age seven and a half. It was a really tough decision, but I'm now glad I did. She has a full time one to one lady, and many friends. If I can't get her a place at a suitable SN's school when she's 11, then I intend to home ed her again. smile

To everyone who thinks children should be able to read fluently at age 7, in order to love books. My DD is eight and a half and has severe learning difficulties. She can't read or write but LOVES books! I read them to her all the time. She also listens to audio books. She tells me stories and I have to write them down for her. She also has a good idea of how stories work. I know that it would be a lot easier for me if she could read her own books, but I'm just saying it doesn't have to hold a child back. If they can't read, they can still develop a strong love of books, and I'm hoping that'll help her to read when she's ready. smile

mistlethrush Fri 20-Sep-13 13:15:45

DS read the first Harry Potter book to himself aged 6 - we were taking too long reading the next chapter to him so he did it himself. He was SO ready for school nursery at 3.5 - mostly play but they started their phonics there and the start of numeracy. He's summer born too. Starting at 6 / 7 would have driven us all completely round the bend.

All children are different! The problem is, it's very much a one size fits all education. I don't think there's any way around that either in mass education.

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