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

cloutiedumpling Wed 13-Nov-13 14:39:40

I would rather increase the age at which kids started school. If all kids started school after their fifth birthday then every kid would get a full two years of nursery education. If parents were given the option to defer then not all would take it, resulting in some kids still starting school at 4.5 whilst others were more than a year older than them. Also, not all nurseries will advise on whether or not to defer. I know of a private nursery that was very reluctant to say whether or not kids were ready to start school.

unlucky83 Wed 13-Nov-13 19:13:11

Pretty - it isn't just about moving to England ...as you see I have a number of issues with it...with preschool education not being compatible, a deferred child having to change peer groups etc etc.

And ultimately putting the decision into the hands of the parents...who may or may not make the right decision for their child, based on a number of reasons, some of which may not be in the child's best interest.

Current trend is to defer but from what I can make out in previous years it was much more difficult and the trend was not to defer.

Therefore (without valid reasons) I would stay with the trend and defer.
(Purely because if you don't your child will be in a group with quite a large percentage of the other children more than a year older)

There are conflicting reports on the pros and cons of deferring/not deferring. In ten years time not deferring may be the preferred option.

I stick with my view, that the system could and should be improved.

unlucky83 Wed 13-Nov-13 19:21:29

BTW I know a Scottish mum and a primary teacher who tried to plan her pregnancies to have March born children...

I have March-born children and was v glad not to have to make any kind of active decsion grin - if DS1 had arrived on his EDD 2 weeks earlier, I would without a shadow of a doubt deferred him.
As he wasn't and turned out to be a clever cookie we considered asking for him to start school in the previous year's intake - see my above post. We considered it for about one split second as emotionally and socially he was not ready.

I agree that parents, much as they know their children best, are not always best placed to make the decision re deferment as there might be other considerations at pley, not just the child's best interest, such as childcare costs etc.
When I started school, early 70s in Germany, every child got assessed. Which sounds good, until you add that if you had not started changing your dentition you were not considered 'school ready' hmmgrinhmm. What on earth teeth were thought to have to do with any level of maturity affecting school is beyond me.

For me the key thing that I miss in the English system is flexibility. Different children will always need and thrive with different things.
I had never considered that my children would not just continue going in to whatever year they are in if we moved to England... That's it - we're staying put!

Also, just a tiny semantic thing: it jars with me to call it 'holding a child back'. It is more 'allowing them more childhood' 'continuing maturation' 'giving them time to develop' - it's not restraining an impatient racehorse, biting the bit, impatient to get going grin (some kids maybe, most at 4 will quite happily keep going to nursery).
Equally, I am not sure that I'd worry too much about nursery 'curriculum' 'what they learn' - surely they should have fun, learn to play/share/take turns, play outside, do some role-play, plant some plants, put some butter on toast etc etc??

I don't get the rush to formal education.

unlucky83 Wed 13-Nov-13 22:18:59

Nursery is 2.5 hours of preschool education and as such has a curriculum. It has to prepare children for starting P1. Make sure they know things like their colours and how to count to 20, etc. There will a level of repetitiveness, with no extra information because it is all new to their new peers.
But it isn't just educational, it is the social aspect too - things like the transition into school.
Eg my DD's primary nursery a few weeks before the summer term ends they start visiting the P1 classroom. The P1s go into Nursery, the Nursery children go into P1. The Nursery children get allocated a buddy from further up the school. The buddy's visit the Nursery a few times.
What happens to the child that is being deferred? Either you keep them off or they do all these things, experience the general excitement (and maybe trepidation). And next year they are back in Nursery, trying to fit in and make new friends in a group that already know each other and maybe their best friends have moved on to P1.... (or what I've seen more than once become best friends with another child that has deferred and then struggling to mix with the rest of the group)...

stargirl1701 Wed 13-Nov-13 22:24:17

Nursery curriculum is Early level CfE. As is P1. The experiences and outcomes are the same.

unlucky83 Wed 13-Nov-13 22:54:38

So children are taught the same things in ante-preschool, preschool and P1?
Why then bother deferring? They are the same thing anyway...
I think the Early Level of CfE is described as preschool to P1 - 'or later for some' or similar
The Early level has to accept that ante and preschool education isn't compulsory. Therefore the first level is end of P1 - it could hardly be the start could it?
And children that haven't attended preschool (or some with SN) may not attain Early Level by the end of P1.

prettybird Wed 13-Nov-13 23:19:16

We'll have to agree to differ.

I'd much rather have the flexibility of the Scottish system where there is an overlap of ages allowing for individual children's readiness than the rigidity of the English date driven system and apparent disregard for the fact that children differ in their developmental readiness sad

Ds' nursery followed a two year programme of activities to allow for the fact that some children (whether or not they were deferred) might be there for two years. Only those children actually going to primary school made school visits - the others stayed at the nursery. And anyway, the kids at ds' (council) nursery went to 5 different primary schools (4 state, 1 private) so there were only two kids that went to ds' primary school. Good nurseries are actually quite adept at coping with children going to different places - and having transition visits on different days.

By the way - ds went to his catchment primary school but one that didn't have an attached nursery. His nursery didn't have an attached school which is why there was such a variety of destinations - but there are many primary schools in Glasgow (and no doubt Scotland but I will admit to not having checked) that don't have attached nurseries.

Groovee Thu 14-Nov-13 07:26:18

Socially, dd was 9 months younger than the group of girls in her class. She struggled to mix with them but the friends outwith school she was the eldest and had very few problems.

Emotionally, I walked to collect her from nursery one day. She tantrumed the whole way home because I hadn't brought the car. Other mums who had just collected their P1, couldn't believe it as she had never done this before.

Fast forward to being 12, moving to high school, the transition was very easy and she settled well. Can tolerate people in her year group without it turning into the huge issue that her friend a year younger does!

I also wanted her to sit her exams at 16 rather than 15. Though in P7, they reckoned she could have sat Standard Grade English and get a 1.

Nurseries with transition to P1 usually work in different ways. A lot of them will only take small groups for transition and doing activities with P1. That way not all children will realise anyone has gone and won't be involved. My dd's nursery was very sensitive in this respect and I have passed it on to other nurseries when I have worked in them.

Before they go to P1, we check they can recognise their colours, numbers, shapes, can confidently use a pair of scissors and hold a pencil correctly. A good nursery will provide a wide range of activities which you can learn something new all the time. Even I learn something new in topics despite having been in nurseries for over 20 years. We spend time observing the children and taking their lead over what activites we can offer and how to extend them.

Many nurseries have a plan such as the usual festivals and seasons but then extend what they observe meaning that no year at nursery is always the same. We've recently been doing forces after a child brought a magnet in and the interest which grew from the one magnet.

It's something to think long and hard about. Speak to all the relevant staff. Have as many meetings with the nursery staff as your feel you need. Our old Head teacher used to say "well you know your child!" meaning it was your choice, but when she spent a term at another school they interpreted it as "No you can't!"

stargirl1701 Thu 14-Nov-13 07:43:17

The reason for deferring is pedagogical. It is not the experiences and outcomes.

unlucky83 Thu 14-Nov-13 10:12:19

Can't that be defined as 'of benefit to a teacher?' (ok then - and or education smile).
I agree we will have to disagree. I have been in the should I/shouldn't defer situation twice and I hated it. So I do have strong feelings. And I have had dealings with other parents in a similar situation who have also struggled.
I think the academic outcome is less important than influences on a child's emotional development and feelings of self worth. And I can see pros and cons of deferring/not deferring on that.
Then it all evens out in the end anyway. I feel the most important thing in life for DCs is to be happy and content. Whether that means they work canning beans in a factory or as prime (or first!) minister, as long as they have enough money to not to have to worry about it, fine.
I know from personal experience that you can relatively easily go back to education as a mature student.
And I know how preschool works quite well - and I agree nurseries do a fantastic job and there is variety. I like the child led learning aspect, but there can only be a certain level of variety.
Transition I know depends on the Nursery set up etc -(indeed DD1 went into P1 from a private Nursery) but in the four nearest 'villages' the situation is as I described. In fact there is a set pathway through various groups etc. Leads to a good community feel and it means that children (and their parents) start to form bonds and friendships with their peer group from birth. (It also can mean that 'new' children whether that is at the start of P1 or though out the school can find it more difficult to 'fit' in).

CecilyP Thu 14-Nov-13 10:57:01

One thing about the benefits of the flexibility of Scottish system I have got from this thread is that who benefits is entirely arbitrary, very much dependent on the inclination of the parents rather than anything specific about the maturity or lack of maturity in the child. So you may well get a mature November born who was perfectly ready for school at 4.9, deferred until 5.9 if his parents think it is a good thing and want their child to be the oldest in the class, while a very immature February born may start P1 at 4.6 as his parents have never thought of doing otherwise. It must make teaching P1 harder than it might otherwise be.

Not sure what the answer is, but I started thinking deferring was a good thing, but now I am not so sure. Perhaps the starting date has to be fixed but older, with a degree of flexibility for specific needs, or perhaps P1 should be more play-based like the English reception.

I was under the impression that January and February born children could be deferred simply at their parents' request whereas November and December born kids had to have some kind of agreement from... <ahem> somebody official? Sorry to be so vague, I don't know which agency gets involved, but I don't think it is just up to the parents for the 'older' younger children IYSWIM.
Good grief, now I am confusing myself...blush

expatinscotland Thu 14-Nov-13 11:02:27

You are correct, Pacific. DS is. November baby but held back and additional funding provided by the council due to probable ADHD and autism.

CecilyP Thu 14-Nov-13 11:08:10

Pacific, it is the funded nursery place that is likely to be automatic for January and February borns, and extending that to December and November children will depend on more official approval. However, any parent can defer if their child is not 5 at the beginning of the autumn term if they are not taking up a funded place, say, they don't go to nursery or are at a private nursery.

Groovee Thu 14-Nov-13 16:17:02

It's automatic that Jan/Feb birthdays get funding. Usually deferral forms for them need to be in by the end of February.

For an autumn born child there is no guarantee without good reasons for councils to fund an extra year. Usually the nursery staff would write a report, but if they don't feel they have reasons which would secure funding it can be difficult to write a report.

My friend's middle child is October and he was deferred. The nursery teacher showed his mum her report and said, "Please remember that it is a very negative report and may hurt your feelings!" But my friend said it made her realise how much help he was really needing.

Ah, thanks for that, so it boils down to funding. Money, of course, silly me hmm.

Weegiemum Fri 15-Nov-13 01:43:43

My 2 older dc are feb born.

I never filled in any "deferral form"

I just didn't register them for school??

(Which for ds and then dd2 - our 2 youngest - was scary as we had to go to the catchment school and run the wrath of the scary lady in the office who 1. Totally thought we were ker-ayy-zee for not sending our dc to her school and 2. Took huge delight in telling us our dc would never get in to the Gaelic school we'd chosen).

Groovee Fri 15-Nov-13 07:48:29

Weegiemum, the nursery teacher took me through to the deputy head and I signed the form and they filled the rest in for Edinburgh Council.

I also had to register her for school as that would guarantee the funding for nursery. Then I returned a year later to register her again.

KateAdiesEarrings Fri 15-Nov-13 09:24:41

SLmummy do you agree that your son needs to work on his fine motor skills and has problems with his concentration?

I've found that nurseries attached to private schools seem to prefer children to have two years at nursery and as such, they almost automatically stream children into different groups regardless of age. Consequently if your child has only been at nursery for a year then the nursery will suggest deferring.

My ds' nursery said he couldn't write any letters and wasn't good at concentrating. Yet at home he was writing 3 and 4 letter words unaided. There was something about the nursery environment that just didn't work for him. Plus they had automatically put him in the younger group when the class split into different activities.

We decided not to defer and ds loved school much more than he did nursery. Ironically in P1, he even received certificates for his beautiful handwriting!

I've had friends who deferred and it was exactly right for their dc. I've other friends who deferred and their ds was bored by another year of nursery and constantly missed their friends who had gone on to school.

I'm not sure that the current Scottish system does make sense. Ds' class ended up with an age difference of 18 months between the oldest and the youngest in the class and I don't think that does benefit the class.

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