Nursery recommends my son is held back a year

(95 Posts)
SLMummy Mon 11-Nov-13 22:16:55

My little boy has just turned four and at a recent parents evening at nursery, his key worker recommended that he should be held back a year before starting school. She said that while he was spot on academically he still has issues concentrating and listening, especially if in a larger group. He also needs work with some of his fine motor skills She's also under the impression that he's quite shy, and although i'm not sure if he's like that at nursery, he definitely isn't outside of it.

I took her advice and they're now going to liaise with the local school to assess whether he is ready for not. It would be great if he could go to school with all his friends and I'm looking for advice on what I can do to help get him ready. Of course if the school also recommends that he stays back another year then I'll follow their advice, but I would still like to know what I can do to help develop his motor skills (i already have a few ideas), help improve his concentration and get him interested in learning. If anyone has any tips or has been through a similar situation, your input would be much appreciated smile

scaevola Mon 11-Nov-13 22:37:55

State or private school?

It's very, very rare for pupils to be placed outside their age cohort in the state sector (not actually illegal, though). Is the nursery worker the SENCO, and does she have any experience of placements outside of normal cohort? Or might she be just shooting from the hip?

Periwinkle007 Mon 11-Nov-13 22:38:34

Where are you? In England as I understand it a child can only be held back a year in severe cases. They could skip reception and join yr1 assuming they could get a yr1 place but to actually formally be educated with children a year below them is very unusual.

Scotland seems to be completely different though.

Periwinkle007 Mon 11-Nov-13 22:39:21

oh and concentrating and listening are skills lacking in an enormous number of children much older than that (according to my 6 yr old and her complaints about her classmates!)

CirclesAndSquares Mon 11-Nov-13 22:39:49

Marking my place as we are pushing for similar and have some advice

solveproblem Mon 11-Nov-13 22:41:47

It's another ten months until he's due to start school, and a lot of things can happen in those months!

scaevola Mon 11-Nov-13 22:43:03

In terms of what you can do to improve the skills specified by the nursery: fine motor skill: modelling with clay/plasticine, colouring, playing with Hama beads. Concentrating and listening: read to him more and ask questions about what he's just heard and/or anticipate what comes next, or provide an alternative ending; go to storytimes at places like the local library (if you have one)

hazeyjane Mon 11-Nov-13 22:44:41

Delaying a year has been discussed with ds, but he is disabled and will also be young for his year ( July born). As periwinkle says it is not an easy thing to do, and I am hoping he will be able to start in sept with a statement at a slu.

I spend a lot of time at preschool with 3/4 year olds who will be starting school in sept and see a wide range of abilities and levels of concentration!

Jiltedjohnsjulie Mon 11-Nov-13 22:46:34

Can't see why fine motor skills would be a good reason. My DS would never pick up a pencil before starting school, by half term he was writing sentences.

Is the nursery attached to the school?

scarlettsmummy2 Mon 11-Nov-13 22:49:03

We had this at private school in Edinburgh. Didn't defer and so far my daughter has been ok, although there is a noticeable difference between her and the children who are a year older.

hazeyjane Mon 11-Nov-13 22:54:38

Here is a fantastic list of exercises to help improve fine motor skills c+p from another thread.(warning it's very long!)

Do you mean this list?

This is a fantastic list I copied and saved from a post by mrz Hope it inspires you!

Fine Motor Skills
Things to remember:
Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical
chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or
fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker
pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete
puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits
for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb
movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm
and shoulder muscles.
Fine Motor Activities
Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the
hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding
the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use
to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super
strength builder.
Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow
(mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt
"monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run
when sprayed.)
Primary
Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the
"Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes,
small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space
between the palms.
Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios,
macaroni, etc.
Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or
to make artistic designs on paper.
Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto
construction paper to form pictures or designs.
Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to
the edge of the table.
Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle
fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what
happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.
Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal,
cotton) on outlines
Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the
outlines
Primary
Self-Care Skills
Buttoning
Lacing
Tying
Fastening Snaps
Zipping
Carrying
Using a screwdriver
Locking and unlocking a door
Winding a clock
Opening and closing jars
Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
Washing plastic dishes
Primary
Sweeping the floor
Dressing
Scissor Activities
When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting
activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil
in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle
finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to
stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine
subscription cards.
Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
Cutting straws or shredded paper.
Cutting
Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
A fringe from a piece of paper
Cut off corners of a piece of paper
Cut along curved lines
Cut lines with a variety of angles
Primary
Cut figures with curves and angles
Sensory Activities
The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle
strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of
his/her hands.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop".
Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar
in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to
the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt,
sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory
awareness in the hands.
Midline Crossing
Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following
activities will facilitate midline crossing:
Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It
may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent
switching hands at midline.
Primary
Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand
for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by
presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body
through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play
imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line
across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.

I also have a busy finger box basically one of those plastic fold out workboxes for craft with lots of compartments

1. Pegs –
You need pegs of different sizes, clothes pegs, small bulldog clips, stationery clips etc. Get the children to use one hand only at a time. I usually get them to peg about 10 pegs of different sizes onto the sides of a gift bag. They might put them on with their left hand and take them off with their right.
They can also try squeezing the pegs between the first finger and thumb (on each hand) then the middle finger and thumb and so on.

2. Elastic bands –
Elastic gymnastics! – Start by putting 2 elastic bands (the same size) around the thumb, first and middle fingers, ask the child to open and close the fingers. Then add another 2 elastic bands and so on. The more you have on, the harder it is to move your fingers. These exercises help to develop the muscles which make the web space when writing.

3. Beads –
Get beads of different sizes and thread. Ask the children to thread some beads onto their string. The smaller the hole obviously the harder it is to thread. Develops hand/eye coordination.

4. Ball bearings and tweezers –
Put the ball bearings in one little box and ask the child to try and pick one ball bearing up at a time with the tweezers and place in a second small box. If this is too tricky try using Hama beads and tweezers.

5. Floam / Playdough –
These products are great for squeezing and rolling which provides necessary sensory feedback and helps to develop hand strength. Ask the children to squeeze the dough and roll it with the palm of their hand.

6. Doodle board –
The Doodleboard is just a way of children practising handwriting patterns or letters without having to commit them to paper. Provide some patterns and shapes to copy.

7. Gummed Shapes –
Give the children a sheet of plain paper and ask them to make patterns or pictures with the gummed shapes. Just picking up on shape at a time, licking it and then sticking it down all help to develop hand/eye coordination and the pincer grip.

8. Hama Beads –
Hama beads are good for pincer grip and hand/eye coordination. The children have patterned sheets to copy and peg boards to put them on.

9. Lacing cards –
Also good for hand/eye coordination. Just give each child one card to lace.

10. Bean bags –
Give a child 4-5 bean bags and place a container about 3 feet infront of them. Ask the child to try and get as many beanbags in the container as possible. (Hand/eye coordination)

11. Chalk and blackboard –
If you can, try and wedge the blackboard between two tables and provide the child with a piece of chalk in each hand. Ask them to draw the same pattern with both hands at the same time on both sides of the board. This helps develop bilateral movement.
Allow the children to draw patterns, shapes and letter shapes on the blackboard. The chalk gives sensory feedback and sound simultaneously.

12. Stencils –
Children can use the stencils to make a picture. Helps develop pencil control and special awareness among other things.

13. Feathers –
Ask the children to try and balance a feather on different parts of their body. This helps to develop balance and coordination.

14. Handhugger pens –
Hand hugger pens are the triangular shaped pens. These help the children to establish a better pencil grip.

15. Tissue paper strips –
Place the child’s palm (at the wrist) on the end of a strip of tissue paper. Ask them to only use their middle finger to get the paper to scrunch up under their hand.
Repeat, but this time place the side of the child’s hand on one end of the tissue strip and ask them to only use their thumb to scrunch up the paper and bring it under their hand.
These activities really help to develop the hand arch, web space and muscle tone of the hand.

16. Stickers –
Children love stickers. Just peeling them off provides an opportunity to develop fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.

17. Peg boards –
These can be peg boards where the child has to place pegs in the holes, maybe copying patterns.
They can be the boards with plastic pegs already on where they have to stretch elastic bands between them to make patterns.

Journey Mon 11-Nov-13 22:57:44

I wouldn't give one person's opinion so much weighting. I would follow your gut feeling here since there is no significant reason why he shouldn't start school.

I've delayed my dc starting school so have gone through this process. From reading your post I got the impression you were a little surprised by what the key worker said and would really like your ds to start school with his friends. Follow your intuition. You know what is best for your ds.

Pancakeflipper Mon 11-Nov-13 22:59:22

Doesn't sound enough to hold back a year. Dig deeper and if he is to be kept back then get the support they require.

Corygal Mon 11-Nov-13 23:06:23

AFAIK he needs to be SEN to be held back, at the very least. Find out what the school's concerns are in detail.

hazeyjane Mon 11-Nov-13 23:14:30

Sorry to do another copy and paste (not so long this time!)

This is from one county's guidelines

Where a parent wishes to defer entry to September 2014 but enter in the Reception class, out of the child’s chronological cohort, a fresh application must be made under the Co-ordinated Primary Admissions Scheme for that year of entry. This is called delayed entry. Such an application must be supported in writing by an educational, medical or social care professional independent of the family, demonstrating a serious detriment to the child if he or she were not to be admitted into Reception in September 2014. For there to be a detriment to a child by being admitted into his or her chronological Year Group, the LA would expect very exceptional circumstances to be demonstrated.

Mellowandfruitful Mon 11-Nov-13 23:18:20

So he hasn't been diagnosed with any disability/SEN, yet at this point, still nearly a year before he would start school, someone thinks that he will not have the motor skills and concentration to cope with it when he will be 4 years 10 months? I am really astonished by that. Not, by the way, that children who did have a disability or SEN would not be able to start school with their peers...just that if there was something like that in the offing it would at least be an explanation. In my experience it is typical just-gone-4 yo behaviour/ability level to be still working on motor skills, have trouble concentrating etc! The fact that they've said he is 'spot on academically' make it even stranger.

I would ask many more questions about this and get more opinions.

Anja1Cam Mon 11-Nov-13 23:19:11

In our school the kids who really are not ready get the chance to repeat the reception year, on the advice of the reception teacher and with agreement of the parents. It is pretty rare. But all 4 year olds start reception.
Our local authority puts 'held-back' children straight into year 1, purely based on their date of birth. And as others said, it is a long way to the start of the school year 2014 so deciding to hold in back (if such a thing was possible for your chosen school) now could be a hasty decision to make?

NonnoMum Mon 11-Nov-13 23:22:07

If this is in England...

I think the nursery worker is completely out of order.

Holding a child back a year is extremely rare, and can have huge consequences with funding later on in the child's school career (i.e might not be able to do post-16 courses etc).

If your child has just turned 4, then he will be one of the oldest in his year and at a massive advantage. So much can change over the next few months...

In fact, not only is the nursery worker out of order, I think s/he is misguided to the point of being unprofessional. I'd complain.

It seems like very odd advice to me. My DD is also shy st school (though not at home) but there are months and months until he starts reception and he'll already be a year older (more or less) than the summer-born children...

Itsaburrdiee Mon 11-Nov-13 23:23:50

We're in Scotland and I know quite a few children who have remained in nursery for another year, particularly those with January, February birthdays.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 11-Nov-13 23:25:27

Hello OP, you said the key worker at your ds nursery?
Do you know what qualifies this person to be able to assess this?

LatinForTelly Mon 11-Nov-13 23:33:57

Are you in Scotland, OP? If so, I would try not to worry too much about your DS deferring. The mums (of boys particularly) I know who've done this have all been very pleased with the end result of delaying school.

I think it's not at all uncommon for January and even December birthdays to defer in Scotland.

I would explore it a bit more with your DS's nursery, and talk to school as you've planned. But if they do recommend deferring, then please try not to worry. I've heard only good things about the outcome.

(If you're in England, then I have no idea, sorry!)

simpson England Mon 11-Nov-13 23:58:38

I agree that this kind of thing shouldn't have been raised yet, there is a long time before the next school year.

I would have a look at mrz's list that has been posted (its fab, I have used it for my DD) and not stress too much.

It's perfectly normal for kids in reception to not have a long attention span, or have problems listening at 4. I would be concerned with a school that have raised these issues so early tbh. (I am in a reception class once a week).

Euphemia France Tue 12-Nov-13 06:39:53

If you are in Scotland, please take the nursery's advice and defer him.

I teach P1 and I have several four year-olds in my class who are just not ready to be at school. They are struggling, more with the mental energy needed to get through a day of learning than anything else.

Groovee Uruguay Tue 12-Nov-13 06:58:27

I'm in Edinburgh. My dd was born early making her a January birthday. As a nursery nurse, dh thinks the moment she was born it was in my head to defer her starting to school.

She returned to nursery for the extra year and emotionally and socially, it was the best thing I ever did and I don't regret deferring.

She's now 13 and in S2. She is bright and often receives good remarks for her work etc. She was on the ball as a 4 year old but emotionally everything was an issue and socially she can deal with situations that causes her friends a year younger to have a melt down.

In all my years of working in Education, I have never met a parent who regrets deferring but I have met many who regret not deferring.

I think many of my factors to defer were Dh and I are December birthdays. I struggled all the way through school. Dh sailed through primary but when he moved to secondary, he was placed in a class with only one other boy and he didn't like him and he switched off. His mum and dad have said seeing our dd having an extra year and the benefits she has gained from it, they wish it had been an option for them.

It's a difficult decision but one that needs careful consideration.

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