Really?? Very clever September-born and no school for another 1.5 years

(94 Posts)
Lawnmumma Thu 24-Apr-14 15:48:40

My son aged 3 years and 7 months has been identified as extremely bright by nursery teachers and all who know him. He turns 4 in September and so just misses the cut-off to start school this year. I am gutted for him that his friends will all be moving on, and also that he cannot start school despite clearly being ready. He is mature for his age - socially confident and very articulate - and happily learning at nursery to read and write - but will effectively be waiting another year and a half before starting reception. Some of his academic year peers are barely talking, still in nappies etc and it is absurd when we have 'play dates' with them. I've met with the head at the local primary who said that all they can do is differentiate class work - but that with 32 in a class this isn't always the reality even with teaching assistants around. Does anyone have any ideas what I can do to help my boy? I've gone round the local private school but the fees rule this out. I've canvassed friends and family who suggested writing to our local politician but I'm skeptical of this resulting in anything useful. Ultimately of course my son's happiness is the most important thing. I do think this requires being stimulated by his contemporaries and surroundings, though, and gainfully occupied (being taught letters/phonics after having been reading for a year and a half???)... It is hard to write this post without coming across as a precocious parent. My parents were too self-absorbed to ever think about my education so when I landed at Cambridge University I had the raw talent but was seriously 'underpolished' and could have had a smoother ride had I been stretched appropriately previously (and of course, not been advised incorrectly by my sixth form college that Discrete Mathematics was an appropriate module when in fact Statistics was required. But that's another story). I want to prevent history repeating itself. Thanks, in hope, for reading - from a novice poster.

Lilaclily Thu 24-Apr-14 15:51:01

Would your sons grandparents pay for private school?

But tbh a year of playing will not harm a 3 year old smile

I'd try to chill out a bit if you can

I'm about the come to the end of a difficult academic year for this reason - have a very bright (now) 4 year old, who turned 4 in October, all his friends went to school in September, he's been stuck at pre school with a peer group he doesn't relate to at all. The pre school have been brilliant about it, but it's been hard - I'm a teacher so have done some stuff with him at home, but have generally concentrated on allowing him to enjoy his last year of not being at school as much as he can.

Once he gets to school in Sept I'll expect he'll fly so I don't see any great need to accelerate that process now - they're little for such a short time.

There has to be a cut off point somewhere but it's ultimately an advantage for him to be the oldest not the youngest in his year.

x-posted with Lilac! grin

obladeeobladahla Thu 24-Apr-14 15:53:57

Let your child be a child.

MissOtisRegretsMadam Thu 24-Apr-14 15:54:47

Will they take him in January, the term after he is 4?
If he is naturally clever then that will continue to be the case and I'm sure you are doing lots to support that at home.

If you were in some other countries he wouldn't be starting until even later anyway.

I'd try and see the benefits... Another year of learning through play! Does he have friends that aren't moving on in September?

Zingy123 Thu 24-Apr-14 15:55:39

My friends DS was like yours. He started in reception reading year 4 books. He did maths with the year 2's. They can differentiate but they still need to play with children their own age. He is now year 2 and is still doing well. She looked at independent schools and they thought she could get a bursary but it's the other side of town and she has a younger child too. He does get some one to one attention from the TA.

Jinty64 Thu 24-Apr-14 16:01:22

How about learning a musical instrument, a foreign language or both. Or taking up a sport, tennis, golf? It will stretch him sideways and stand him in good stead. I can't believe that starting school before you are four can be in anyone's best interests.

Lawnmumma Thu 24-Apr-14 16:05:48

Wow, it's brilliant to get such a spectrum of views so fast. Thank you! Feeling slightly better already (panic subsiding ever so slightly)...
Lilaclily - yes, grandparents could help financially, but with one child not both and I want them to have the same opportunities. Chilling not my speciality unfortunately!
KnittingRocks - thank you. Good to hear of someone in a similar situation. I feel poorly placed to help him at home, though, compared to someone trained to teach.
Obladee - agree with this too. I don't want to pressure him, just ensure he reaches his potential. He is a serious little fellow and I'm always trying to lighten him up. He is so inquisitive, always asking questions about words etc.
MissOtis - hadn't thought of mid-year entry. Will investigate although oversubscribed schools round here makes me doubtful. I'm trying at home but not easy with baby around.

Lawnmumma Thu 24-Apr-14 16:08:56

Jinty - great ideas. He's currently engrossed in Pete and the Wolf! I firmly believe in breadth and balance for a happy life :-).

inthesark Thu 24-Apr-14 16:10:01

There are two separate problems here really: what to do with the next year, and what to do about school.

For the first one, is it worth looking for another nursery for the next year? DD is also v bright and her (wonderful) pre-school were actually better at differentiating for her than the reception class ever were. I would rather have left here there in the end.

For the second, can you go round all of the state schools you might reasonably get into and ask what they do if a child arrives already reading. Provision varies enormously from school to school and you will be able to tell a lot from what they answer to this.

And you are right to worry about being stretched, I was another one who got total work shock when I arrived at Cambridge and wished I'd been made to work harder earlier. DD is now 7, and we've had big problems with her being frustrated and bored at school.

Can you also ask about bursaries for private school - or even just use your nursery payments to put him into a pre-prep nursery for a year?

inthesark Thu 24-Apr-14 16:10:37

x-posted there!

Nothing that I do with him really requires teaching training Lawn smile. He talks non stop and consequently asks questions about everything so I just try and extend his learning when he's in one of these moods - we do maths questions in the car, cooking can involve maths, reading together involves letter recognition, etc.

It's nothing major and I haven't pushed him at all, just let him guide what he wants to do. Otherwise I've just tried to find other things to focus on - he's a little climbing monkey so I've signed him to a gym class for example, which he loves!

MissOtisRegretsMadam Thu 24-Apr-14 16:11:06

Is the nursery attached to the school? Could he go into reception for carpet time or group time or when they do the phonic group work or the things he would benefit from?

There is always children who just miss the cut off and the other side is late august birthdays who have to move but aren't ready... Good settings shoud plan for both extremes.

exexpat Thu 24-Apr-14 16:13:49

What sort of nursery is he at? DD is a very bright October born child, and at four for various reasons was going to two nurseries: one was a fairly normal daycare sort of place, lots of arts and crafts but not much intellectual stimulation. The other was a Montessori, which she absolutely loved, and came home bubbling with enthusiasm for all the things she had been learning. She still talks about it now, and she's 11! The downside of the Montessori was that they only did morning sessions, and I really needed a couple of whole-day childcare sessions a week, which is why she went to the other place two days a week.

It might be worth looking around the various nursery options in your area to see if any might be more suited to your DS than others, with a view to moving in the summer/September when his current friends leave to start primary school.

Btw, I don't think the mid-year entry idea would be a possibility with state schools - eligibility for a particular year group has the same cut-off (i.e. age 4 by August 31st) no matter when in the year you join.

BeCool Thu 24-Apr-14 16:21:09

my eldest D (born November) sounds very much like your DS - she is now in Y1 and doing very well, top reader, doing extra maths etc.

Children start school very early in this country. I was happy for DD1 to be starting comparatively 'late' as it gave her more time to emotionally develop before formal schooling which apparently is very beneficial for a child. It also gave her more time to focus on creative play before entering the school system.

Many friends tutted at me and were astonished I did not teach her to read properly before she started school (that is what they were doing with their 'bright' kids) but I never saw it as a race. Or essential, or a prerequisite. She has a lifetime of reading ahead of her, but only a few precious months of painting and otherwise artistically expressing herself.

Formal learning goes on for years. your DS will get there soon enough. take this time to foster his other qualities.

Treats Thu 24-Apr-14 16:23:45

I have the same issue with my daughter - September -born. She couldn't understand why all of her friends were moving onto school without her and she would have been completely ready and able to cope with Reception.

I moved her from the daycare nursery where she'd been since 18 months and put her in the nursery attached to the school we wanted her to go to (and now have a place at). I thought she'd be better off with more of her peer group, and at least she'd be at school and wearing a uniform. She seems happy enough - although she still misses her old friends - and is starting to read and write and do well with her numbers. It's more of a learning environment and there are enough TAs alongside the teacher to provide support for all kinds of abilities.

Beyond that, we do everything we can outside of school to encourage her learning. How do you spell that? How many of those are there? and so on.

And it's been a good time to encourage her swimming and cycling - experiencing how exciting it is to practice things and get better at them but not in a classroom setting.

And I agree that chill out time is valuable at this age.

Look on the bright side - our children will be confident and enthusiastic about starting school and ready to get going!

BeCool Thu 24-Apr-14 16:27:43

Look on the bright side - our children will be confident and enthusiastic about starting school and ready to get going!

^ yes indeed!!

DD also went to an excellent 'school' style nursery which was fantastic.
Although I didn't teach her to read formally, she was very interested in it and I supported everything she was into, but I took her lead. We have always talked lots about the world around us, read lots of books etc.

ohisay Thu 24-Apr-14 16:28:40

I've had this exact same problem, with my little girl! let's just say the problems don't stop when they start reception! we are still having differentiated work while the rest of the class masters the basics.
my little boy however is one of the just potty trained children your bright boy would be in class with! so I've got it both ways, oldest and brightest, youngest and average :-D

tiggytape Thu 24-Apr-14 16:28:57

The temptation for parents of Sept and August born babies is to worry they will be the odd one out.

Parents of August babies worry their child is not ready for school and all of their classmates will be independent, grown-up geniuses.
Parents of Sept babies sometimes worry their child is being put in the baby class because all their friends who had a child born a few weeks before are now a year ahead.

The truth is that reception classes are very, very varied indeed. Yes there will be children who have never been looked after by anyone except their mum, who are at the early stages of learning self care and who will seem very young. But equally there will be children who are more confident, academically very advanced and able to read fluently already. Those things are not always dictated by birthday either.
It is highly unlikely he will join a class where he is the only very academic child - they are very used to meeting these needs as well as the needs of the ones who are at very different levels.

Hi Lawn, please give this a read:

www.theguardian.com/education/2013/mar/08/summer-born-children-educational-inequality

I think the (academic) positives out weigh the negatives of having a summer born, IMHO, going in for the early intake would possibly put your son at a disadvantage later down the line.

As others have pointed out, you can look for other ways to stretch him this year. I know there are some great music teachers, for example, who teach children as young as three or four, you just need to find the right one.

I know your son seems way ahead of his peers now, but a lot of schools have a problem with labeling children so young as gifted and talented or anything like that because while they are that young they do naturally develop at differing rates so much anyway - you would hate to get him into the early intake and then go on to regret it!

sorry, that third line should read "having a September born"

Artandco Thu 24-Apr-14 16:38:15

I'm sure the classes are fine. He will be fine to climb trees and learn more at home. Mine are 2 and 4. I'm dreading elder starting school as feel its too early in the uk

Youngest is still 2. He is very advanced, ie can read a little, basic maths ie 8 + 2, lots of general knowledge, trained/ dresses self/ speaks two languages/ swims/ blah blah blah. Not a boast at all, but I guarantee he will be ahead at school when he starts as has 2 years left. However I also still think he would be better to start at 6/7 years like in mainland Europe. He's super bright and learns new things every day, but I think it's important he spends most of his time climbing trees, and collecting worms, and glad he has at least 2 more years to do this all day

mice Thu 24-Apr-14 16:39:11

My son is September born and was very similar sounding at the same age. His older brother only being 16 months older meant that they learned phonics and to read etc together.
It wasfrustrating the last year at home when he was 4 and so ready for school but at the same time it was an extra year for him to be a child and learn through play. A formal education isn't essential at this age and they can learn so much through everyday activities like shopping, going to the library etc etc.
My son started school reading and was always at the top of his year group, as much because he was older as that he was more talented I think. It worked to his advantage, he has turned out confident, happy and it is a real bonus that he has remained very strong academically. He is 16 now at a super selective grammar school just about to sit his GCSE's in which I am sure he will do exceptionally well, but his greatest personal achievements are his sporting abilities and he would far rather be known as sporty than clever.
At 4 it seems a huge deal, but in the bigger picture it really will make little difference I am sure in his school career. A bright child will always be bright and sometimes our challenge as parents is to channel their enthusiasm in an age appropriate manner rather than pushing ahead with reading/writing/maths skills. Build sandcastles, discuss castles, turrets, drawbridges etc, improve verbal vocabulary, share factual books together, all these things will give a real solid foundation when he starts the many years of formal learning he has ahead of him. Most of all have fun and enjoy the time you have before he knows more than you (and is bigger too!)

keely79 Thu 24-Apr-14 16:40:13

We had the same issue with my October born DD - who goes to school in September. Her nursery have been brilliant at letting her stretch herself and encouraging her crazes (was the human body for a bit, now the solar system, writing stories and dinosaurs).

Other things we have done to keep her mind occupied include reading with her (the oxford owl website is great - free ebooks), making sure to answer her properly when she asks questions (luckily DH is a physics teacher so that helps with a lot of the questions about how the world works), she's about to start Mandarin school on Saturdays, and I've been giving her piano lessons after she asked.

However, we have made the decision, following recommendation by the nursery, to send her to private school so that she can continue to go at her own pace. Luckily, thanks to job change by me, this won't affect us too much financially.

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