DD born on cutoff date and I want to hold her back - advice please

(104 Posts)
coldfingersandtoes Wed 06-Feb-13 19:44:11

DD was born at 9pm on the 31 August, so is therefore due to start school this September. I really strongly believe that this is going to be totally wrong for her. I know that each child is different and some with that birth date are going to be ready, my DD is definitely not one of them! My son is also an august baby and he was young but ready for school and has coped ok. My DD is very young for her age, her speech is only now coming together, she didn't say a word until she was 2.5 and now speaks ok but is still quite far behind other children her age. She really struggles to settle into new places or situations, it has taken her nearly a year to get the hang of nursery and only now is happier about going in. She has a little circle of friends, all of whom will be starting the September after (2014). I desperately want her to start reception that year too rather than this year. I know she doesn't have to legally be in school until she is 5 but then she would miss reception and have to go to year one, which I also don't want her to have to do. I have a meeting with the headteacher tomorrow morning to discuss the situation and I know he is going to try and tell me that cutoff is final and I have no choice. I am going to really fight my corner on this one though, so if anyone has any advice they can offer me tonight I would be grateful, so I can go in fully armed tomorrow!

pooka Thu 07-Feb-13 07:30:19

I feel for you, but nt sure how likely it is that you'll be able t do this.

Is bonkers really. My ds2 is about 12 hours younger than your dd and he will start school a whole year later. And thank goodness, because he really isn't ready IMO. Have a July birthday dd who was fine (but had a January start). And a September ds1 who started on his 5th birthday, which was exactly right for him.

stopthinkingsomuch Thu 07-Feb-13 07:32:55

Sept is still a long way off. If I compared what my little boy was like just before Xmas I had concerns but I can see he would be ready enough to be at school. Perhaps it could be different for your dc by the time she's 4.

Ps. We changed his preschool because we were finding he would regress after every holiday and there were other things we weren't happy with. He's now playing with the kids going to school in Sept and that's helped him loads.

Nothing to add re out of year situation, but dd2 was socially definitely not ready for school in the feb before she started. In the Easter I had a consultation with her nursery teacher (school nursery, reception class next door, qualified teacher) who admitted that they were all really concerned about how she would cope. She was in tears every day, had no friends, even in the July I sat outside her end of term party as she cried because it was too noisy. She is mid feb birthday so no chance of delaying.

In the September something clicked, she made some friends, the teacher worked hard on social skills with her, now in yr 1 she still has some social issues, but is happy and confident. Hopefully the meeting will go well today and your dd will thrive whatever the situation.

MrsMushroom Thu 07-Feb-13 07:44:31

OP I feel for you....I was in your situation with DD1 who was born in late July. She's 8 now and in year 4 and is absolutely fine. You say it took DD a year to settle in to nursery.....it took my DD that long and also that long to settle into school but she did..and so will your DD.

Reception is very play based....she won't be under massive pressure.....can I ask if you have had her speech looked at by a therapist? Is that your main worry?...

I really feel for you OP and hope it goes well today. Good luck. I don't know the rules about this but if you don't ask you'll never know.

I also think it's time for a change in legislation around this, especially for circumstances like mentioned above (child born late August 13 weeks early). This surely is going to become more of a problem as care for premature babies advances.

Personally, I feel that there should be flexibility in say the final 2 weeks of August, especially in premature babies cases. School, nursery, parents and healthcare professionals could meet to decide what was best for the child (God forbid hey!). I don't think it would affect numbers/funding overall, as some dc in this bracket might well be ready. Not all parents will want to hold them back.

I'm a teacher (secondary) and it is often, not always, but often, possible to tell the very youngest in the year. Particularly with year 7 boys. They sometimes are just not ready at all for secondary school and would have been much better equipped maturity wise coming up in the year below. I have also taught a set of 'higher multiples' who were more like the year below in every way, and would have been so much better placed with slightly younger children.

<<Wonders why these decisions are not made for the benefit of the children involved really>>

MrsMushroom Thu 07-Feb-13 07:45:53

Also...EVERY parent is worried their child won't cope...or isn't ready....but 8 months really is a long time in the development of a child and you might find that your worries are unfounded.

ggirl Thu 07-Feb-13 07:56:13

I know of one person who managed to hold their child back and enter reception a yr later. It was a hard fight and may have involved special needs I think but she did do it.

DowntonTrout Thu 07-Feb-13 07:58:53

My DD1 had a July birthday. She started school with everyone else but it became increasingly obvious she was educationally immature.

We were able to hold her back a year before senior school, she repeated year 6. We were able to do this as we had moved into the independant sector.

It certainly benefitted her educationally as she found her level. However I now think it was the wrong thing to do from a social point of view. She always felt out of place and although not bullied it didn't help her confidence. I would look into starting her mornings only until Christmas or three days a week if they will allow it.

pooka Thu 07-Feb-13 08:06:57

I do know 2 children who started a year later - one was born prematurely at 28 weeks and had developmental delay (delayed start supported by paediatricians). She will carry on a year behind her chronological cohort to secondary.

The other child had and has global developmental delay. She actually started a year after her cohort and repeated reception but then went to a SEN unit aged 9 because she was then not able to cope academically even 2 yrs behind her cohort. The gap just seemed yo widen as she grew older.

So in both cases, the decision was supported by paediatricians and educational psychologists. And even then both involved court action/appeals by the parents.

weegiemum Thu 07-Feb-13 08:11:30

I'm in Scotland where there is flexibility. The cut off date is the end of march, so the very earliest you can start school is 4 years 5 months. But children born in Jan, Feb & March can go either at 4 or 5 - my 2 eldest dc were both 5y6m when they went into p1 (=R), and my youngest was 4y9m and that felt terribly young to me.
I think this is partly due to the different education structure, with only 6 years in secondary school (quite a few leave 6th year age 17) and then an undergraduate honours degree takes 4 years at a Scottish uni.
From what I read on here, that kind of flexibility, which takes into account the needs and development of individual children and respects parents judgement of their child's readiness could be very usefully introduced elsewhere in the UK. Many people here, but by no means all, defer for the year. I'm very glad we did so.
My dd1 was 13 yesterday and is in s1 (=y7), and knowing her and from my own experience as a secondary teacher, I think having that extra year made the transition to high school much easier.
OP, I wish you well in your meeting today and hope some flexibility can be found for your dd.

Backinthebox Thu 07-Feb-13 08:15:23

My August-born daughter's pre-school staff told me she was definitely not ready to go to primary school in the September. I applied for the place, and deferred her entry until after Christmas, but kept her in pre-school 4 days a week. The preschool staff did a really good job of preparing her for school - as we are in a small village with a small preschool they were able to spend a bit of one-to-one time with her to make sure she was up to speed with reading and numbers.

Just over a year later (now in Year 1,) and the primary school has finally stopped going on about this, and she is doing really well. As other posters said, everything just clicked one day. She's really happy at school, and is currently reading just above her peer group level, and has been moved up to the Year 2 classroom for numbers and maths. She's made good friends and is really looking forward to the school disco.

Just because she is not looking ready now does not mean she will not be ready at some time in the reception year. I do also think there may well be a stigma attached to be 'held back a year.' Children pick up on these things eventually, but in my experience the teachers are even faster to, if they feel you are in the wrong!

ohfunnyhoneyface Thu 07-Feb-13 08:36:00

We have children out of sync with their birth year. Go in positive with as much paperwork as you can to support your feelings and opinion.

If you do get refused, I would suggest a slow gradual build up and take the decision positively to ensure that their school experience is still a positive one.

I really hope you get the answer you want though, this rigidity is outdated and totally at odds with the individual learning philosophy.

ohfunnyhoneyface Thu 07-Feb-13 08:36:58

Back in the Box's solution is excellent- would this staggered combination work for you?

CelticPromise Thu 07-Feb-13 08:39:17

HappyCamper it's really interesting to hear your views, an additional reason in my mind for holding DS back is that I think it will make life easier for the teachers! When I talk about his background schools talk about accommodating his needs, but if he goes a year 'late' it's likely he won't have any additional needs. He should have been born in November so comfortably in the year below.

He relates much better socially to the younger children in his preschool than to those going to school in September. He can't concentrate or sit down for any length of time, he's physically small and he's not ready to toilet train. I think he'd be a nightmare for a reception teacher

I know of some work being done to try to get flexibility for summer born premature children, but I really think there should be some flexibility across the board. Scottish system sounds very sensible!

tiggytape Thu 07-Feb-13 09:02:29

Personally, I feel that there should be flexibility in say the final 2 weeks of August, especially in premature babies cases.

The trouble with flexibility as an absolute right is drawing a line. If you gave a child born at 35 weeks on August 25th the right to stay back, what would you tell the parent of a child born at 27 weeks on July 1st about their child not being allowed to stay back?
If you extended the right to all July and August babies, what would happen to a baby born at 27 weeks (so 13 weeks premature) at 5 to midnight on June 30th?

Even in Scotland where there is greater flexibility, there are still people born the 'wrong' side of the cut-off dates eg most Feb and Jan babies are kept back which makes Autumn babies the youngest in the year by default and these cannot be held back and retain their funding so there are children who miss out by minutes or days or by being born prematurely even in systems with more flexibility. Whatever rule you have or whichever date you pick, somebody somewhere will fall the wrong side of it.

outtolunchagain Thu 07-Feb-13 09:41:29

My ds has SPLd and is now at an independent specialist school where the children are set according to ability, maturity etc not chronological age , you have no idea how liberating and refreshing it is not to be constantly judging him against a fairly arbitrary measure of what he should be doing based on the number of months / years they have been alive.

There is approximately 22 months between the oldest and the youngest in his class but I doubt he could tell you that and he has no interest whatsoever in people's age .

I absolutely know that he was not ready for school at 4.5 , he has always been about 18months behind in maturity and it was just to much for him .It was not just the academics , that was the least of his problems , but the whole environment ; how many times on here do you read posts saying " the teacher can't be expected to do this or that for thirty children" but he needed the more cosseted environment of nursery / home plus he was continuously shattered by the relentlessness of it.

weegiemum Thu 07-Feb-13 09:42:05

You're right, there will always be people born "on the line" wherever it is drawn. But because of where the line is drawn (march in Scotland) no one starts at 4 years and a day and pretty much every child will be 4 and a half - and those 5-6 months can make a lot of difference.

AnnIonicIsoTronic Thu 07-Feb-13 09:44:46

My DH was a late August baby with a difficult start in life and speech delay. And a string of top academic results - including three degrees from top universities and a six figure salary.

I really don't think you can predict how things will work out - whether being the youngest is a handicap or a spur.

The problem with deferring is that you will have to keep fighting the battle at every stage: school transitions, exams etc etc.

In your shoes I'd give serious consideration to any offers of a reduced timetable in YR - but stick with the correct year group.

My DS2 is a summer baby - and he's definitely needed (and received) TLC to help him with the 'study skills' aspects: sitting still, gripping a pencil, paying attention, speech. But academically - his ability to absorb the curriculum - is excellent. He's a smart boy in an immature body. He might have benefited from shorter days in YR - but it has had no bearing on his long term learning.

Toast123 Thu 07-Feb-13 09:51:09

I have done this- DS was born in August but slightly premature, due in September.
Strangely, you need to speak to the secondary schools first because they are now happy to take children out of year group as long as they have a place. The rules have changed, it used to be about children not bing able to leave school at 16 without any GCSE's. Then talk to your primary school and report back. We also got a doctors note.
In the end we have gone to an independent school but I work in the state system and it is do-able and i think very significant for some children. Don't let the school fob you off and do also talk to county office advisors.
Sorry for fast typing and good luck.

SanityClause Thu 07-Feb-13 10:09:37

In Australia, there is a lot of flexibility. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but you can pretty much have your child start any time from their 4th birthday, up until their 6th birthday. I'm not sure if you have to start at the beginning of a school year, though.

Basically, my sister got to choose whether her DC would start when they were 4 rising 5, or 5 rising 6. She chose 5 rising 6, as many parents do, there.

Obviously, this doesn't help the OP, though.

Scootee Thu 07-Feb-13 10:23:14

I think that since there is no flexibility, you need to focus on managing her transition to school, rather than delaying or opposing it. I would make it clear to the head that she needs a lot of support and ask for a plan to be out in place. My ds struggled in reception for different reasons but the primary problem was the fact that his teacher would not acknowledge there was a problem. Fortunately, his y1 and y2 teachers did acknowledge his problems and have strategies to help him. Now he is no longer struggling, so I really believe that the teacher / school "buy in" to the help needed makes a huge difference and this is what you need to obtain for your dd. It should start with them suggesting how you could prepare her over the summer IMO. Also they could out a teacher/classroom visit in for her in the summer term.

goinggetstough Thu 07-Feb-13 11:33:52

I have a June born DD and luckily she was ready to start school in the September. I appreciate that this thread is about academics and maturity to start school at 4 but I thought it maybe useful to comment on a knock on effect of being in the wrong age group with regard to sport.

Our school had problems with sporty children being in the wrong age groups. When they played in inter school competitions they had to play in their correct age group. This is understandable as otherwise teams could could put older DCs in their lower teams to help them win. This affects the individual DC as they either have to play sport with DCs not in their age group or if they train with the age group they are in when a tournament etc happens they have to be pulled out and this disrupts the team. We had one round of a cup match at prep school that had to be replayed as one girl was too old to play for that particular team.

Of course when you are looking at when your DC should start school it is not plain sailing even when the LEA or head teacher has agreed for a child to put done a year.

Pyrrah Thu 07-Feb-13 12:18:09

I'm an August baby myself so I do appreciate the problems. I also have a younger sister who went through school 2 years above her chronological age - came out with string of A*'s and then couldn't cope emotionally at University and a lot of very difficult years. It was the reason why we actively TTC in months that would avoid the possibility of a summer baby (ridiculous I know).

The only thing I can say is that I sent DD to the nursery of one of the local primary schools last October when she was 3 years 4 months and both she and the other children in the class are all coping brilliantly with full school days and what appears to be Reception-Lite - they do some reading, writing, counting, lots of singing and colouring and lots of free-play, but more structured than most nurseries.

There are two August-born preemie twins in her class and even they are fine.

DD has growth hormone deficiencies so is also tiny and the smallest in the class by a long way and even that hasn't caused many problems (can just about reach the basins).

BirdyBedtime Thu 07-Feb-13 13:35:05

Good post tiggytape.

My DS was 4 in mid-Jan (Scotland). We thought hard about holding him back but at the end of the day decided that all of the reasons we had for doing it were external ie that many other children his age will be held back, because some children held back last year will be 13 months older than him but in the same year, because it's the 'done' thing in our area to hold back. But, he is ready and while I know that being young in the year might cause issues later on, we will be there to support him if they do. At the end of the day, someone has to be the youngest, and I suspect in my DS's case it will be him, although he'll be 4 and 8 months when he starts in August!

To those wanting a choice, it's not actually that great to be honest as in my case anyway I'd have preferred not to have to make the choice!

DeWe Thu 07-Feb-13 13:56:52

I would have liked to hold my June ds back a year, socially it would have been the right thing to do. But academically in maths and reading (he hates writing so not that) he's right at the top in his current year, so would it have been right for him? Can't tell.

I once spoke to someone who lived in America. In their area they had a lot of choice, but what was happening was typically parents of boys wanted to hold them back so they were bigger and more coordinated, so they'd make the sports' teams. Otoh the girls' parents liked to say how advanced their girls were academically, so sent them as soon as they could, saying that their girl was just so ready for school...
Result was that the schools were increasingly finding their youngest form had nearly 7yo boys starting with just 4yo girls.
This also meant that people (like the person I spoke to) were in an awkward position-with a boy who was ready at 5yo, she was worried he'd be picked on if he went then because he would be relatively small compared to most of the boys and relatively less good at sport simply because of the age.

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