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to think that 4 1/2 years old is too young to spend a whole day at school?

(100 Posts)
dingledangle Tue 22-Sep-09 13:05:02

My Dd started school two weeks ago and has loved going every day up until this week. Today she said that she did not want to go as she wanted to wear her own clothes and that the day is too long. (She started full time after a week of half days.)

As I was trying to console her this morning I felt like saying actually I agree the day is too long and yes school uniform is silly.

Before she started school I felt that in the UK our school systems starts children too young and that a whole day is an awful lot for children so young. But I find it really difficult defending something when I agree with what she is saying!

AIBU? Perhaps I am being over liberal but I do think that 1 /2 day would be ok for her and that the whole idea of conforming to school uniform and other stuff completely restricts all personal and social development!

The TA said to me today that all the children do get a 'reality check' after a couple of weeks. But I wonder really is that what I really want. Where is the child centred part of schooling?!

Does anyone else feel this way or AIBU?

FranSanDisco Tue 22-Sep-09 13:06:12


hunlet Tue 22-Sep-09 13:06:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OrmIrian Tue 22-Sep-09 13:09:38

It isn't really very long - 6 hours. And it's not very structured either in reception.

No-one can have totally unrestricted personal and social development - otherwise we wouldn't be able to live in communities.

Perhaps you should ask if you can sit in on a lesson or two to see how child-centred it is.

IdrisTheDragon Tue 22-Sep-09 13:11:50

At DS's school children don't go full time until the term when they are 5. There is a mixed nursery/reception class that they start the term after they are 4 and do just mornings for two terms.

Does mean that younger children don't have as long in that class, but also means you don't have children who are just 4 in school full time.

MillyR Tue 22-Sep-09 13:13:01

if it isn't right for your child, don't send her to school until she is older.

My DD started school full time at 3 years 4 months. She loved it.

Not all children are the same.

pofacedandproud Tue 22-Sep-09 13:14:30

I agree. It is too long. Headmistress has been fine with ds doing half days in reception over the last two weeks but teacher now wants him to do full days and I am dreading it, he has had a horrible vomiting bug from school and is shattered from it. In Germany all children only do school up till lunchtime and though i can see why that is difficult for parents, it doesn't adversely affect the children's education.

Pikelit Tue 22-Sep-09 13:14:58

ds1 was four and a quarter when he started and certainly couldn't have managed a whole day. Fortunately he had two terms of half days only (round here they go full time in the term that they will be five)which was just about right.

Different children manage differently, of course and ds2 who started full time from the outset was never a very tired child anyway so I doubt he'd have found it hard going.

Personally, I think a whole school day, five days a week, is a long stretch for anyone under five.

dingledangle Tue 22-Sep-09 13:15:05

I agree about the social and personal development and being able to fit in to communities. My daughter is very sociable and has had no problems with that side of things. I also appreciate she has to conform to certain societal expectations.

When I have explored what the problem is she says that 'it goes on for so long' so I think it is the length of the day that is the problem.

I just wonder how effective the idea is that she has 'to get used to it'!

TheInvisibleManDidIt Tue 22-Sep-09 13:15:55

Ds1 started at 4 1/2. Scottish system, so he started p1, half days until Sept weekend, then full days. He was fine..a little tired to start but got used to it quickly.

Ds2 missed the cut off by 6 days, so was 5 1/2 when he started. to be honest he was more than ready and I wish now I'd pushed for early entry and started him at the same age as ds1.

Grendle Tue 22-Sep-09 13:17:28

YABU because it depends on the child. In your position I'd talk to the teachers and see what works best and what options there could be. If she's too tired then yes, keep her at home for a day.

However, ds started school this term, aged 4 years 4 months. He went full days from the start (we were offered the choice) and is absolutely loving it. There have been no tears or dramas about it at all. He actally sobbed the first Sat as there was no school. I would have been sad for him if there hadn't been the option for him to start now or if he'd had half a term of enforced half days.

staranise Tue 22-Sep-09 13:17:39

I agree it's a lot to ask of a young child. My DD1 is young for her year and struggled with the physical demands of school five days a week - the school run, having to be 'good', concentrate, follow rules etc - it's a big adjustment for a young child, no matter how child-centered. It does get easier as your child gets older but I used to really envy my friends with kids at private school who got Friday afternoons off.

stonethecrows Tue 22-Sep-09 13:17:58

YABU - and I say that as the mother of DDs who started full time straight away just after they turned 4. They were mega mega tired, and it was hard work all round. BUT, if they had faffed around with half days and a mother who was a bit precious about uniform, it would have made it harder and meant they missed that much more (and therefore got further behind), and missed out on social activities.

If nobody started till 5/6/7 then I would agree with you, but as the system stands YABU.

dingledangle Tue 22-Sep-09 13:19:12

The reason that all kids in her class are full time now, even if b-days are in August, is because of government funding. (This was the reason I was given when I asked why they all went f-t so quickly).

I was reassured that even the teachers thought most of the children were too young to cope with it full time.

MoreCrackThanHarlem Tue 22-Sep-09 13:19:35

Yabu wrt uniform. It is a great leveller for the children, particularly in communities where the children come from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Why is it a problem for your dd? At 4 my daughter could have been dressed in a bin bag and wouldn't have noticed.

As Orm says, 6 hours is not all that long, and the day has a very similar structure to most nurseries. My dd was ready for it at 4, although the first few weeks were obviously tiring as she found her feet and adopted a new routine.

I found the jump from reception to yr1 the hardest, when the day becomes much more structured and academically challenging. If your dd is not prepared by a year in reception she will find that transition a struggle, imo.

princessmel Tue 22-Sep-09 13:20:30


My dd will be 4.5 when she's due to start full time But she doesn't have to , by law till she's 5.

She is currently doing half days and these are tiring enough for her. She is asleep at the moment after a 9- 11.30 session.

I will see how she goes and if she finds it too tiring/long/etc I will keep her doing half days.

She is not used to being apart from me for 6 hours.
Neither was ds. he cried every day for a whole term when he first went ft and he is a very outgoing, confident child.
His words were, 'it's just too long mummy'

TheApprentice Tue 22-Sep-09 13:20:40

You are quite entitled to take your child out from full time education until she is 5, as other posters have said. Can I just say (I taught reception for several years) though, that the TA is quite correct - its incredibly common for children to suddenly feel a bit overwhelmed once the honeymoon period is over after starting school! The complaint that the day is just too long is very common, and I think is because it must seem so much longer after Nursery hours. Usually they adjust over the next few weeks.

However, thats not to say I don't agree with your premise that 4 is too young to be in full time education. Britain seems to be the only place that starts so young.

SamMitchell Tue 22-Sep-09 13:21:09

Different children have different needs, I guess. My DS is 4.5 yrs and is still doing half days and it's a pain. He is totally ready to stay for longer (he was doing full days at a private nursery previously) and for me it's an absolute pain in the arse having to faff with childcare.

dingledangle Tue 22-Sep-09 13:21:24

This was my point I think stonethecrows that it is the system that is wrong.

cheesesarnie Tue 22-Sep-09 13:23:45

dd and ds1 started full time at 4 1/2,they were both fine but some werent.our schools only just introduced half days to little ones,not sure how ds2 will feel next year.(some are doing half days,some full days).

5Foot5 Tue 22-Sep-09 13:26:18

I guess the simple answer is that it depends very much on the individual child. There can be an enormous difference between 4 and 5 years old. So it is impossible to say 4 1/2 is too old or too young and be right in every case.

Some are definitely ready to start full time (mine was) and others find it a struggle.

I must admit that when schools try easing them in gently e.g. half days for the first half term, that is a nightmare for working Mums.

dingledangle Tue 22-Sep-09 13:26:26

TheApprentice I agree with your post.

DD is a very comfident child too and I did expect that after a very confident and postive start from my DD that we might have a reaction when she realises what going to school actually means.

I appreciate what you are saying SamMitchell but I am talking about the children here not how inconvenient it is for us as adults. I understand what you mean about half days.

princessmel this is my DD comments too that the day is too long. DD was used to preschool four mornings per week but finds the whole day thing a bit too much.

For me I think we have the wrong system.

MillyR Tue 22-Sep-09 13:32:11

Dingledangle, if we did not have this system, then we would probably have something similar to the Scandinavian system.

The children would not be in formal education, but most children would still be in childcare all day. They would have to conform to rules all day.

Nothing in your original post suggests your issue is with the formality of the educational style. Your issue is with children being in an institutional setting all day.

That is how many countries organise childcare now. So I am not sure how your point is in agreement with The Apprentice's point. She is questioning formal education; you are questioning a system that keeps children away from home for 6 hours a day.

stonethecrows Tue 22-Sep-09 13:36:19

Sorry dingledangle, wasn't initially sure whether your op was about system or not.

I do think we start too young in this country, but then it is hard to say what the right age would be, and there is always going to be the summer v winter born children issue too. Glad i'm not a schools policymaker!

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