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My DD will start reception age 4 and 1 week (2014) - what advice can you offer?

(23 Posts)
BettyandDon Thu 18-Apr-13 12:00:03

I have read the numerous reports on the disadvantage that younger children can have within their school year group.

I am aware that there will be numerous examples of children who do very well despite this, but on the basis that I have an 'average child' (who can really tell when they are 2.5...) what advice can other parents give to best support a youngest child as they start school? I'm after real life practical suggestions...

If your child was not affected by being the youngest, why do you think this is /was ?

What areas are most important - social aspects, tiredness, dare I say it academics (reading etc), having friends already there ?

Is it best to do nothing and just see !?!!

My DD will do preschool 15 hours a week for the year before in a non-linked school but no nursery other than that. She does a class / activity every day (gym, dancing, music etc). She is fully toilet trained (!) and doesn't nap (!).

I'm working on the basis that she will start Sept or go part time if the school she goes to delays all summer borns (different schools, different rules) as I want to keep her with peers.

Would love to hear suggestions ...

LeonardoAcropolis Thu 18-Apr-13 12:18:47

Hello, my DS is halfway through his reception year and his birthday is 30th August.

Like you, I worried when he was very little but he has taken to school very well. He also went to pre-school which had sessions to focus on routine and getting the children ready for school. It is helpful to know that pre-school and reception use the same curriculum, the Foundation stage. By going to the activities now and pre-school later on will get your DD used to socialising.

My DS did get tired at first - but so did some of the older children! Don't worry about her being able to read or write before she starts.

I think that my DS took well to school because he loves playing with other children and he loves learning. We read to him a lot at home. I think it is also very important not to make a big issue out of her being the youngest.

I hope that this helps.

Hersetta Thu 18-Apr-13 12:23:03

Hi,

my daughter is a 31/8 Birthday and started reception 4 days after her 4th birthday. Physically she was more than ready for it (she is extremely tall and the tallest girl in her year)and she is not behing academically (she's now in yr 1) however emotionally and her overall maturity level was a little behind some of her classmates - some of whom were 360 days older than her.

She was very tired the whole of the first term and this led to a few more tantrums than normal at home, but after Xmas it got a bit easier for her.

We cut down on some of her activities for a short while as she was just too tired to do much after school and was always ravenous when she came out so you may want to keep an open mind about doing too much after school. Doing 15 hrs of nursery didn't seem to be any help in preparing her for the longer school days, she coped fine in nursery, but found the longers days much harder.

My daughter when to a different school for reception than she did for nursery and only knew 3 children. She did find it hard to make firm friends (i think she was a bit of a social butterfly flitting from one group to another) but now in year 1 she has an established 'best friend' and a larger circle of friends.

try not to worry of overthink it as you just have to go along with it and be led by her.

Myliferocks Thu 18-Apr-13 12:29:19

My DD2 was due in the September but came 3 weeks early so was 4 and 2 weeks when she started school.
I think the biggest thing to remember is the reception teachers are used to children that age and can handle the sometimes huge differences between nearly 5 and just 4 children.

BettyandDon Thu 18-Apr-13 12:38:36

Thanks guys. Did any of your schools do anything specific with younger kids? Sit them together, buddy systems etc? I'm looking for questions when I visit schools...

My DD is 30/8 and started 2 days after her birthday. When we got our school allocation we made an appointment to go and see the school again, we chatted to the reception teacher about how the school felt about part time/delayed entry and once we had spoken to her we made an appointment to see the head and discussed our plans and how supportive the school would be of our plans for part time until January.

DD was more than academically ready, she knew her letters and could read BUT she was incredibly behind physically. She had very little fine motor control and couldn't write, didn't draw and refused point blank to hold a pencil. She loves school, made friends, we did part time until half term and then she decided she wanted to go more and we let her take the lead on how much more she went to school, by November she was going full time. She was exhausted, foul tempered and increasingly stroppy by Friday but she loved it. She is now 4.5 and things are finally clicking fine motor wise, she has started drawing, she wrote DH a card last week and he could decipher her name and Papa in it. She still get tired and stroppy, we occasionally I give her a day off and the school are happy with the 'it is in everyone's interests if she is at home today' reasoning. Yes I would have loved to have her start school with the skills she has now but I can't change that and we have to make the best of what we have.

Don't go in thinking she will necessarily be at a disadvantage, include her and be positive about it.

Some good advice here. Something I would also advise is that you make sure she can do the practical things she'll have to do once in school - going to the loo on her own and asking when she needs the loo (putting her hand up etc), getting changed for PE, opening her lunchbox, remembering where her peg is - all these are little details, but if she can do them confidently, she will feel more secure in the classroom environment, and will be able to give her attention to all the other new stuff she will be faced with.

Maybe look at what you can do to make those little details easier to cope with - clothes that go on and off easily, without fastenings and buttons, making sure everything is marked in a way she will recognise, so she can easily pick out her stuff when getting changed after PE (you will be surprised how many children come home in eachother's clothes and shoes, even when there is a dramatic difference in size). Make her lunchbox as easy to open as possible, and the things inside easy to get into too. Cut up fruit or fruit that comes in bite size pieces (grapes or strawberries for example) are easier to eat than a whole apple or pear).

I hope this helps, and that she settles in quickly and easily. And remember - you are probably far more worried about this than she is, and that your 'first day' will probably be far less stressful than you are anticipating.

BettyandDon Thu 18-Apr-13 12:57:26

That's great. I've put dressing up clothes, pegs and lunch boxes on my radar. I forget with the potty training that's it's important that they learn to ask before they go too...

ll31 Thu 18-Apr-13 18:06:11

Seems v young. Can you defer place for a year?

bonzoed Thu 18-Apr-13 18:26:09

My advice is not to worry. It is not a big deal. Being the youngest does not mean that they will be the slowest, least good at things. My DCs between them are the oldest and youngest in their class but I wouldn't say that the youngest is the least academic/coordinated/able to socialise. There is more to a child than age.

A lot of mums do say about their child, "He is very young for his year so he won't be any good at....". Usually the child is not that young for his year but has been set up to fail by his mum.

So, don't worry. The teacher is used to a range of talents and abilities and will be able to take care of your child. If anything, the teacher will be more focussed on raising the level of the least able, rather than challenging the most able.

BettyandDon Thu 18-Apr-13 18:36:30

II31 - unfortunately not, unless she joins in Y1 at age 5 when all of the other children have already had a year together. I want to keep her with her year group for social reasons.

My plan is not to worry, but to take whatever practical steps I can to enable her not to be at a disadvantage. I thought the advice on clothes, lunchboxes etc was good as I can see that if she is upset as she can't unbutton her coat she is going to be bothered about that rather than making friends.

I am also going to see if I can help her find a few buddies that would be in her class once the school places get announced (should be exactly a year today).

I am also considering a local free school which has smaller class sizes.

ShowOfHands Thu 18-Apr-13 18:47:30

DD was a couple of months older but the youngest in her class by a long way. She is the tallest of the dc and she is arguably, the brightest too. She was emotionally and academically ready to go (she learnt to read/basic maths in preschool) so the summer born thing holds no weight for us personally.

I think a good teacher knows how to handle a just 4yo. Reception year is absolutely lovely and they really do learn through play. I think the step up from YR to Y1 is harder tbh.

I would give the same advice to any child starting reception, not just the really young ones. Knowing the routine of the day, how to put on and take off coats and PE kits, manners, turn taking, putting hands up etc is all vital. Other stuff can help too. When you've got 30 identical bookbags and PE bags in a heap, your dc will spot theirs MUCH easier if they have a bright, recognisable keyring on it. Use their lunchbox at home for a few days beforehand too and play at school so they can get used to opening the lunchbox and unwrapping food.

Our school has a buddy system for all KS1 dc and it works brilliantly. Ask about this.

PoppyWearer Thu 18-Apr-13 18:47:58

My DD started last September in Reception and her birthday is end of July.

She is also on the small side physically.

The first term was quite tough. We started out trying some after-school play ages, but found out she was too tired and tantrumy to cope with them before Christmas. We cut out most weekend activities and had a lot of quiet weekends at home so that she could nap and rest.

At first the teachers gave quite a lot of homework, but they quickly stopped this on realising it was too much, not just for my DD but for others too.

Since Christmas she's been fine, and we have restarted play dates and even now some after-school activities, although I try to schedule them for earlier in the week as by Thursday/Friday she is much more tired and bedtime tends to be earlier too.

She now seems to be returning to her normal happy/sunny character after about six months of horrid sulky tantrums!!

The practical stuff like coats, shoes, changing for PE and wiping bottoms is definitely where she struggled a bit, but she can now do it all.

The other thing she struggled with was making friends a bit, as at first she really wanted to be friends with the girls who had their birthdays in September/Oct but they didn't want to play her "babyish" games. She was really quite upset by that. She has since found some friends with birthdays in the summer and now seems much happier.

<shameful boast alert> She is doing brilliantly with reading/writing/numeracy skills so I have no concerns there at least!

YoniOneWayOfLife Thu 18-Apr-13 19:07:18

My August baby came out tired and ravenous. He's a bolter too and would shoot out of the classroom only to hide or have a complete meltdown - so we did a sticker chart. On Fridays I collected him with a buggy.
Academically he took a while to get there, he wasn't that interested to start off with.
He didn't find the playground an issue really as he knew loads of kids from preschool and his sister was in the year above and introduced him to everyone and made him play with her all the time

Betty - don't fret too much about small things - DD couldn't do buttons and still can't do her coat zip. I am always amazed at how they help each other out. There is always someone in DD's class who helps her with her coat zip, she can now finally do buttons. They also help her with crisp packets, yogurt pot lids etc. and in turn she helps them with other things.

We bought PE shorts with elasticated waists, t-shirts one size too big as it is easier to get them off. Polo shirts I also bought one size too big as she could get her head out without undoing the only button we did up, skirts are easier than dresses, long socks than tights on PE days too.

Do you have the option to send her to a preschool setting linked to the school? You say hers isn't linked but I'm not clear whether that is because no such setting exists or because you haven't chosen to use it.

My summer-but-not-as-late-as-yours DS(4) definitely benefited from having spent a year with his classmates (around half of the eventual Reception class, or perhaps more). They also did weekly hour-long visits from April onwards so that he was familiar with the classroom, the teaching team, the children now in Y1, etc. When he actually started in September, part time at first, it was very familiar.

I have heard from other "summer" parents whose DC were at other settings before school that the children felt isolated from the group at first as they were so confident in everything. One says if she had known she would definitely have put him into that preschool even though now it seems to have evened out, so as not to have that initial disadvantage.

If there is an officially linked group, or a group with strong but informal ties, I would highly recommend that path.

BettyandDon Fri 19-Apr-13 15:12:58

Yes I can see that that would be a good idea. There are 10 primary schools within a mile of us (London) and only 1 offers that though and it is not one I would prefer as a main primary school unfortunately.

It would also be very hard for me to predict what school we will be allocated (note I am not using the term 'choose' - see other primary London threads for an idea!).

Our nursery though is selected on distance, so one would presume that at least some of the children going there would end up at the same primary. It is so heavily populated round here though (and transient) so I almost wonder if it is a life skill for kids to get used to that aspect.

Maybe I could host some girls parties over the summer once I get an idea of the other girls in the class <hatching ideas to make DD the most popular through having fabulous parties... wink>

tabby32 Fri 19-Apr-13 15:56:25

Just discovered a fab eBook as I have similar worries.

Try www.amazon.co.uk/Starting-School-Practical-learning-ebook/dp/B00CANOCLI/

BettyandDon Fri 19-Apr-13 16:50:53

Do you have this book ? I'm wondering if it has been written with 4 year olds in mind.

Dont have a Kindle...sad

tabby32 Fri 19-Apr-13 17:00:13

Yes, have downloaded to my kindle but you can get a free kindle reading app for laptops, ipad or mobiles. Look on www.earlylearninghub.co.uk for the links

tabby32 Fri 19-Apr-13 17:26:56

From what I've read so far it would be suitable for a 4yr old. It's very informative, I've learnt loads myself and the games are something I can do easily enough. Have browsed book. Love the writing activities, going to give some of them a whirl.

BettyandDon Fri 19-Apr-13 17:37:48

I will check out those apps...

Parties or even informal "meet at the park" afternoons so that she recognises a few faces before she goes sounds brilliant. Or delay party by a week until first weekend of school and invite whole class?

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