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Delayed entry to primary school? How do you *know*?

(11 Posts)
phdlife Tue 09-Aug-11 12:20:57

I'm in Australia, so some of what follows may sound a bit forn, but my main question here is about how you know your kid is ready for school. Or not. It's long because I just need to think this through...

Ds is in pre-prep (kindy) this year. The intake, which starts in January, is for kids who turned 4 any time between 1 July in the year previous and 30 June after they've started. Ds's birthday is in April so he is quite young in his class. He goes for a 5-day fortnight; the days are 8:45-2:30 including a nap.

The first six months of kindy were really very difficult for ds (and thus for us!). He was utterly and completely exhausted by the whole process for each day he was at kindy plus the day after. He naps there, but not like the nearly 2 hours he would regularly still get at home (that's on top of usually sleeping around 10-11hrs a night). His behaviour really deteriorated (through tiredness, not naughtiness) and he regressed on some things eg. no longer being able to self-settle at bedtime.

He finds the "big kids who play running around" (ie, all the other boys bar one) to be very intimidating but with his comfort group he is very sociable and he really likes talking to the teachers. However, recently he has begun dragging his feet - he does not want to go. Both the teachers and I have observed and probed gently and it appears that there is no problem at kindy, he would just rather be at home with me. Tonight he said he didn't want to go to kindy because he has already played with everything there one hundred and forty times! (exclamation point his); that made me wonder whether he's a little bored, because although he is bright and thoughtful, he is still not very good at playing by himself or with younger dd - though she is teaching him.

So that's where he is now, and I'm supposed to be trying to figure out how he will be in five months' time when he is due to start prep. The thing is, ds is adamant he does not want to go to school, ever. Talking about it makes him suck his fingers and slump his shoulders. We went to a lovely, very small school (55 enrolled!) and afterwards he complained of all the big kids running around. The principal there said she didn't think he was ready, because he sat at my feet sucking his fingers for the whole hour that we were chatting.

As I understand it, there's plenty of evidence that suggests keeping them back is beneficial, particularly boys, and I would have no problem convincing the principal of that small school to delay his entry. The local education board has a checklist, none of which takes into account the emotional skills a kid would need to cope at school, so I didn't find that too helpful - it's the emotional stuff that he hitches up on. (There's also the other end of primary to consider - if ds begins school next year, he would start high school age 11 under the recent shakeup - which just seems crazy to me.)

However I would also need to find something to do with ds for the intervening year. I think it probably wouldn't do him any good to be at home with me for another year; I can't keep up with his requests for knowledge and long role-playing games as it is! I think I'd have a battle on my hands to send him back to the same pre-prep; it's my feeling that they tend to think "he'll be right" and that sooky mummies need to let go of their PFBs. What they don't realise is that I'd be happy to send him to school - if only he weren't so dreadfully anxious about going - and if only I thought he could cope with 5 day weeks, which right now, I don't. But how do you know?

alowVeraWithPurpleTwuntyPants Tue 09-Aug-11 15:09:07

Hi. In the uk, (in my experience) we can't back-year DCs. My dd's preschool (kindy) takes children from 2.5, the majority are 3-4yrs olds. (as funding is from 3), so pretty much they will turn 4 during the September-august "(pre)school year.

They start school the following September, so turn 5 during this school year.
They start school whether they are ready or not. (I had considered back-yearing dd2, but the local authority won't even consider it), once they are in the school system it becomes easier(although by no means easy) to put them back a year, but they have to have started in the first place.

Our schools are quite supportive of the children, they know that September 5year old will be different to the later august 5year olds. And the support /pastoral care is already in place for any children that need extra help.

My dd1 was one of the oldest in her preschool group, and got very bored, her behaviour deteriorated, and she seemed to go backwards with her social skills,

Is there something about kindy that your DS is not liking? Has he had his confidence knocked in some way? Or is it just the bigger children that he's not keen on?

The best piece of advice that I was given was that DC should enjoy Pre-school and want to go.

oldmum42 Tue 09-Aug-11 17:14:00

ALOWVERA.... Here in the UK you CAN delay school entry - in Scotland and I think also in N.Ireland!

In Scotland, there is a cut off date of 1st of March (if DC will turn 5 by end Feb they would start Primary 1 the August before - at 4 1/2). But you can hold them back a year so they start school at 5 1/2 if they are not ready - or because you feel it's in the DC best interests. Holding back is easy, encouraged even. if your child has birthday in the couple of months before the cut-off, and gets more difficult if it's 4 or 5 months before the cut-off.

There is a LOT of evidence to show it's advantageous to be amongst the oldest kids in the class, and that younger kids attainment is on average lower than the oldest kids even at the end of Primary school (age 11-12).

If you don't feel he is ready for School, go with your instincts and delay if you can.

alowVeraWithPurpleTwuntyPants Tue 09-Aug-11 19:29:22

Oldmum42, ah, I didn't know that. We wanted dd2 backyeared (SN) but were told we couldn't do it.
Hmmm. confused

Chundle Tue 09-Aug-11 20:31:16

i think you have to go with your gut instinct. my DD2s birthday is 24 august so she just gets into her year group by 7 days! She wasnt meant to be born til the october but was prem. Im going to keep her back a year as ive seen many young kids in the school year struggle and fail and my dd has enough issues without adding being the youngest into the confusion.

BlueArmyGirl Tue 09-Aug-11 20:42:54


in England (not sure everywhere else is exactly same) you can delay entry to school but, if dc are being educated at school and not at home, they have to go to school the term after their 5th birthday. This means dc born between Sept - Xmas have to start Jan, Jan - Easter have to start after Easter hols and Easter-Aug have to start following Sept. The last group (Easter -Aug) dc are the most complicated because if you apply for a school place and then decide to delay entry until the following Sept you have to have to reapply for the new years in take and the child would go straight in to Y1 (they would miss reception).

LAs are quite against defering entry to school (where parents want children to do an extra nursery year and then go into reception when they should be going into Y1) because it causes all sorts of problems as children transition from primary to secondary and on leaving secondary.

alowVeraWithPurpleTwuntyPants Tue 09-Aug-11 21:41:39

BAG. This is what we have come up against. (dd is in that Easter-august age group) back yearing her would just mean she would start straight into yr 1, so effectively not back yeared at all.
Our LA won't delay entry by a year.

So DD has to start whether she is ready or not.

phdlife Wed 10-Aug-11 11:34:48

I'd heard of some school principals who'd said (in years past, to other mums) that if they kept their dc back a year, they'd be put straight into year 1, thus missing prep (reception) and forfeiting the whole point of being kept back. But afaict, the new structure makes prep compulsory so I guess they wouldn't be able to do that any more. But it is really all as clear as mud trying to figure it out!

BlueArmyGirl what sort of problems does it cause in the transition to secondary school and leaving secondary?

BlueArmyGirl Wed 10-Aug-11 11:41:33

Summer term babies lose out a bit really - their level of development is, in some cases, almost a year behind some of their peers just because of when their birthday is, they get only three terms of funded nursery provision (where as children born in Sept get five terms) and they cannot delay entry to school or they miss recption altogether - and actually then need that time in reception!

Occasionally very rarely LAs will allow an 'official' deferred year where the child always stays down but it is a major issue at transition to secondary school as the school is not obliged to keep them out of their year group so could insist they go into year 8 (again missing out on the introduction to secondary that comes from year 7). However, schools have some autonomy around this issue and could have a child in a class that is not their chronological class, but it would need planing well with a good deal of consideration to address the issues - it's easier to do in a school where you have mixed year group classes because you can plan a 'catch up' year where the child is in the mixed class but then moved up into the older class next time round.

BlueArmyGirl Wed 10-Aug-11 11:44:39


secondary schools are not obliged to take the child outof their chronological years group and a child could leave school without sitting any exams because chronologically the reach schoolleaving age a year ahead of when they would actualy sit exams and 'finish' school (because they've been kept down a year). There are also potential funding issues because a child ends up funded for an additional year in school beyond the compulsory leaving age.

phdlife Wed 10-Aug-11 23:34:56

lordy - I don't think any of that's an issue here, but thanks for the tip-off - I shall investigate.

bonkers, isn't it? having so little regard for the individual child's welfare. hmm

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