Immature 5 year old, am beginning to get very worried

(31 Posts)
Lifeinlalaland Wed 24-Aug-11 18:43:32

My son is 5 1/2 and looks and acts more like a 4 1/2 year old in many respects. He is small for his age physically and his speech was late to develop. He was significantly behind in reading during reception although with a lot of extra support from the school and from me and his dad he has now caught up to average. He is very behind on his writing, can just about form his name and very short sentences, and getting him to write is really tough, he really does not enjoy it.

I am willing to continue to put in the extra effort to help him but it is in other areas that I am really beginning to notice the differences between him and other five year olds. He is such a sweet boy but he is also socially and emotionally so much less complex than other children his age. He doesn't seem to have any awareness of what others think of him, he will skip to school and shout out 'look mummy a doggie' much like a very small preschooler might, for example, and it's lovely, but the other kids in his year are sniggering at him. He has just begun to notice this, but it breaks my heart because as time has gone on it has become more and more apparant that the other children in his year have developed close friendships but he hasn't and it's because he is just not as socially complex as the other children.

He's just about to start year 1 and I am beginning to get so worried. I was at a friends house today and he had just met another five year old girl. She was lightyears ahead of him in speech and the way she interacted, after about 5 minutes of knowing her he said 'are you my best friend now?' and he was so lovely and smiley about it, but she just looked at him like he was a little kid.

At the end of term last year I had a discussion with his teacher and she said he was very immature for his age, but that we had to continue to keep pushing him to catch up with everything as she said the gap was only going to get wider between him and his peers. I know him to be a charming, sweet natured and innocent boy with a really kind heart, and he is developing and learning well, no behavioural problems. However it seems like he is just basically younger than the other five year olds in his class. I am getting more and more worried he is going to be labelled as 'dumb' by his peers (one or two comments already regarding his reading etc) and basically have that lovely spirit knocked out of him because he is a little different / not maturing as quickly as the other children.

To be frank I think he could do with about another 6 months with four year olds in reception and then he would be where the others are now but that I am told would do more harm than good. He is not delayed enough for it to be deemed really serious, but equally he is always just a little bit behind everyone else. I am worried how this is going to effect his confidence long term. He has said to me he can't do things like the other children in his class.

Phew, this is very long so apologies. I have been trying not to worry and just let him develop at his own pace as I think it is very unfair to lump a load of children in together and expect them all to reach certain targets by a certain time especially at this young age, but I am worrying this is going to become more and more of an issue as he slowly realises that he is not able to do the things the other children are doing and is becoming more and more excluded socially as he is not interacting on the other childrens 'level'.

Has anyone else had any experience of this? And sorry for the long vent!!!

Any advice or experiences would be really appreciated.

Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
belgo Wed 24-Aug-11 18:49:58

I don't think he is necessarily younger; it's just that children nowadays are very 'mature'.

I have the same 'problem' with my dd2, nearly six. She also shouts 'look doggie' and such things in the street, and much prefers to play with her two year old borther then her seven year old sister.

She plays with the younger, smaller girls in her class,; the other girls are far more 'mature' and into Justin Bieber and Rihanna.

I think it's lovely that some children want to remain their age and not grow up quickly.

As for reading and writing; dd2 can just about write her name (10 letters), MAMA and PAPA but nothing else and her writing is very untidy. Fortunately we live in Belgium where children are not expected to learn reading and writing until they are six or nearly six. The UK are the exception in education trying to force four year olds to read and write well before most of them are ready, leading to more stress for both child and parent.

Lifeinlalaland Wed 24-Aug-11 19:04:09

Hi Belgo,

Thank you very much for replying. I really feel that rather than any 'problem' per se with him educationally his difficulties are simply that he has not been ready. I am noticing an improvement in his writing and his reading has really come on...but I also feel that had he been left to start all this at the age he is now rather than 9 months ago he would have found it so much easier!

He has a five year old cousin and she is so grown up compared to him, I have always kind of liked the fact that he is still so sweet and has that preschool kind of innocence about him and so the worry has come on grdually about him. I wish there were some way to give him another 6 months where all the other children stop lol and then plonk him back in with them and then I think he would be totally fine and doing what they all do.

My biggest fear is that he will get labelled as not capable when he is, simply because he is going at a different pace to the majority of the children. I guess I just need to keep helping him at home and then talk to his new teacher after a couple of weeks when she has had a chance to get to know him.

I honestly do not know why it is so important five year olds can write sentences to be honest, but I DO know I don;t want him to be left behind because of how I fear it will affect his confidence and attitude to learning long term.

Thanks again :-)

OP’s posts: |
SeenButNotHeard Wed 24-Aug-11 19:23:43

Gosh, I could have written your post, except that I would not have been able to say that my ds had caught up with his peers in regards to reading or writing. He is about to enter yr1 and can just about write his name, but only just.
His reading is at best basic - he can (mostly) sound out three letter words, but can't really read any sight words yet.

He is the youngest in his class, having just turned 5 this week and has the sort of innocence that would not go amiss in a pre-war novel. I too have a sort of 'wait and see' approach, and will see how his new teacher assesses him next term - I am hoping for a sort of new year epiphany smile

Lifeinlalaland Wed 24-Aug-11 19:38:29

SennbutNotHeard - haa on the innocence not amiss in a pre-war novel! Mine is just the same. It's so endearing, I feel bad for worrying about it, and if it were not for all the other kids and what they were doing I wouldn't worry as I am of the opinion they have the rest of their lives to be all worldly and lose their innocence. It's just the worrying about the social side to things and his ability to form proper frinedships and so on.

It terms of the writing, the simple sentence thing and I mean three words tops is VERY recent and it's not that easy to read 50% of the letters, I nearly cried when I was discussing writing with another mum and she was like 'oh yes little X is getting behind, gosh his sentences are so wonky, I have to sit down and tell him to write in the lines.....' (etc etc) I was like ermmmmmm...yea.

I am trying to take comfort in the fact he seems happy enough in general. I am just crossing my fingers he gets just a little bit savvy socially, and the academic stuff clicks a bit!

Maybe year 1 will be 'the' year?


OP’s posts: |
jasminerice Wed 24-Aug-11 19:51:11

The teacher should make sure your DS does NOT feel bad that he is developing at his own pace. The problem here is not your DS but his school. My DD was behind and below average in many ways but the other kids never teased or commented due to her school providing an extremely caring and nurturing environment.

BlueArmyGirl Wed 24-Aug-11 20:02:35

Some children are just a bit immature compared to their peers and some are a bit delayed. Sometimes they catch up and sometimes they continue to be a bit 'behind'. The most important thing is that ds continues to make progress and that the 'gap' does not get any bigger. Is he a summer born? This can make a big difference.

Keep talking to his teachers to see how he is coping with the increasing demands as he gets higher up school. All schools are different but there is often a big jump in expectations in Yr 1 compared to Yr R.

If you're worried ask the GP or school nurser to refer him to a paeditrician for a developmental assessment - that should give you an age equivalent developmental level. The teacher might be able to give you an idea of a broad developmental level using the EYFS - but, the age brakets are so big that that might not be terribly useful!

Lifeinlalaland Wed 24-Aug-11 20:05:06

Hi Jasminerice. In general I am happy with the support he has been given by the school, his reception teacher was lovely. However I do think that they have this attitude that it is not 'good enough' to say he is just at a younger age developmentally speaking than his peers and I was very worried about this gap widening comment at the end of last term.

As far as I am aware from other mums bullying is taken very seriously and I do not feel there has been any overt cases of it. More that I see the other children having much firmer friendships and they just seem to tolerate my son often, or avoid him for their closer friends so it is more subtle at this stage in terms of friendship. In terms of the comments we could not get to the bottom of who exactly said them and when, he would not speak about it, but I will be keeping a very close eye on how the teachers deal with any future incidents.

I am going to be having a good talk with his new teacher after the year has settled down to see what is happening at the beginning of year 1.

OP’s posts: |
missmaypole Wed 24-Aug-11 20:14:39

My DS, five and a bit and going into year one, sounds not disimilar to your DS. My DS is very, very average and does not stand out . Him and all his peer group are the same academically and socially as the things you describe would not make your DS stand out at their school. However, I would say in his class, due to a statistical blip, the boys are nearly all young summer boys.

Does he like Ben 10, Spiderman, Moshi Monsters? Those kind of things seem to be the common ground among the five year old boys I know. Looking at Doctor Who website/club penguin could help him socially

Tgger Wed 24-Aug-11 23:14:21

Grrrr... it annoys me how children are all supposed to be the same these days. Grrrrr...

Also, I think the scandanavian countries have it right with reading and writing. They are ready at 6, before that some are, some aren't. It's unfair to many to push them at 4. Grrrrrr......

Just think, if your son was in sweden he would still be at dagis (nursery) and noone would expect him to read or write anything. They think we are very weird expecting 4 year olds to do this (my sister lives in Sweden).

Find something your son excels at and encourage him- it will really boost his confidence. They sometimes jump in development and then you miss the innocent bits.

Your son sounds lovely, don't force him into a mould... ;-))

jasminerice Wed 24-Aug-11 23:28:43

Good idea to speak to his yr1 teacher at start of term. Don't worry about the so called 'gap' widening as his (inexperienced?) teacher put it. Children spurt and plateau in their development, so your DS may well spurt whilst his peers plateau and the gap will narrow.

My DD has slowly but surely caught up with her peers and may even overtake them at some point.

I suggest trying role playing with your DS, perhaps with a toy, this may encourage him to ' enact' the more covert bullying incidents that he is too young to articulate.

Redumbdancy Sat 27-Aug-11 00:21:39

He sounds like my 5yo - I'm trying to relax about it but it's hard isn't it? Especially as his 3yo sister is close to overtaking him socially and academically.

Unsure as what to suggest, but DS's reception teacher told me they wanted him assessed due to some odd behaviours, have the school mentioned anything like that to you?

lingle Sat 27-Aug-11 16:32:00

much sympathy, one of my children is 6.0 but more like a 4.9 year old. I bet you wish you could move to a sensible country (in Scotland I think he would just be starting school this september).

You've had some good advice from others on this thread in the same situation about how to deal with school.

All I can add is: make home a sanctuary, a place where he knows he's "ok" (more than ok) just as he is.

On a more concrete level, my friend's 30th August immature boy continued to play at weekends with my son who's in the year below but at a different school - and this tided him through the period where he didn't have friends in his class.

Jem07 Sun 28-Aug-11 09:36:13

my ds is starting reception at four years two weeks old - something i am deeply unhappy about. he is going to state school after having a private nursery experience which exposed him to french,drama, and a lot of sport so in some ways i feel he will be as best prepared as possible - but despite being sociable he also is very immature and sweet and not at all interested in writing out the letters in his name or learning to read. as he is large for his age - looks more like 6 than 4 - every one always expects much more from him. even his nursery teachers would tell me they had to remind themselves he was only acting his age and i had a few apologies from them. the system here is so tricky - i do not want him to arrive at school with kids a whole year older and compare himself unfavorably. it is very disheartening. its really nice to find this forum and hear others in the same boat even if the issues are slightly different. i wish your kids all a great year!

FickleFreckle Sun 28-Aug-11 21:34:07

Lifeinlalaland your little boy sounds like an absolute sweetie. smile

It makes me so annoyed that such young children are being put under such pressure instead of being allowed to enjoy their early years in a relaxed way. Lots of other countries don't do this and their adults seem to turn out just as adult as ours!

My son is late summer-born and has special needs as well. I wish I had been more aware of the school system as I would have refused to let him start so young and held out for starting after 5 as was my legal right.

With my son's immaturity and his physical issues as well I wasn't prepared to let him go into Year One and the school wouldn't agree to his staying down a year (despite the fact that I legally could have had him starting reception now, go figure) So I exercised another legal right; I am taking him out of school for a year and homeschooling him to let him catch up a bit before finding another school.

Above all, I think, your son needs to know that he is fine just the way he is. It might be possible to gently encourage an interest in more sophisticated things -I am planning to do things like Ben10, superheroes, and Moshi Monsters with my son to give him interests in common with other 5 year-olds - but I agree about making home a sanctuary.

There seems to be lots of people in the same boat. I'm wondering now if there were other mums in my class who had the same concerns about their dcs - perhaps there are in yours?

noteventhebestdrummer Sun 28-Aug-11 23:00:45

Could you homeschool for a while? He sounds like a lovely boy!

MrsRhettButler Sun 28-Aug-11 23:19:05

I think the major problem here is 5 yo growing up too fast these days.

Your little boy sounds lovely!

I'm sorry I have no advice, dd is the oldest in her class (just about to enter yr 1) but don't feel bad for your son, let him develop at his own pace and deal with any problems if and when they occur. smile

Btw although dd is academically 'ahead' she's still a lot more naive than other girls her age and I've seen her being sniggered at but she's lovely and i don't think she needs to know about Justin bloody beiber! Her best friend is actually a little boy who sounds a lot like your little boy, socially at least. He's a really nice friend for her. Maybe you could tr and 'match' him with another 'nice/naive' child?

cottonreels Tue 30-Aug-11 20:01:05

I am a teacher and it really annoys me that when the situation demands we cant just keep children down for a year (or move them up). I really feel for you.
On a practical note - children generally LOVE writing with a whiteboard and pen. Its something to do with how mistakes are temporary and can be rectified or made to disappear in a flash. Lots of different colours. Try blackboard and chalk, tracing paper, writing over a faint yellow felt tip handwriting, writing with paint brushes, using computers to type (you can get a lowercase keyboard) etc etc. Look at the jolly phonics stuff. Ive done a lot of private tutoring to help children catch up and this can help too, though obviously it costs.
Im sorry I dont have advice on the social side - could you try to find a friend for him (even if he/she is younger) even if theyre not at the same school so he can practice his social skills? Sorry, Im sure youve already thought of that.
Good Luck

mamsnet Tue 30-Aug-11 22:59:14

What a sad society we live in.. Your post has really touched me.

My own DD sounds a lot like MrsRhettButler's, academically ahead but probably naive. She's only 5.3 so I'm very bloody happy for her to be so and actually sad to see her lovely little classmates thinking that they're too big to like princesses or whatever. Luckily I'm in Spain where, though they start preschool at 3, she's only expected to be starting to read now.

One thought does come to mind.. Could you go to her new teacher and speak to her just as openly as you have spoken here? With well prepared arguments I think the teacher might have some ideas, maybe a friendship which she could suggest encouraging, for example?

Just a tjought

Lifeinlalaland Wed 31-Aug-11 11:53:32

Hi everyone.

Thank you for all the advice and support. Been afk for a few days so just catching up now :-).

I am doing things at home with him such as playing a lot with play-doh and using pegs to do games with (we invented the 'sponge game' where you have to use a peg to pick up lots of little pieces of sponge and run to the other side of the room and put them in a bowl, that sort of thing) after advice from his reception teacher to increase his hand strength so thats helping a bit with the writing.

In terms of how he is, I have really spent some time the last few days thinking about our conversations and how I can help him along in his development and knowledge of the world and so on.

Next week is start of term and I will give it a week or two and then have a word with his new teacher. I do not really know her but she has a good reputation so fingers crossed it will all go well.

I think what I am going to try and do is get a balance between relaxing and letting him develop at his own pace but also giving him some more gentle nudging just to help with the academic stuff. I dont really see how I can make him more 'worldly' and I feel he's is too young for me to try and do that anyway. He is lovely, whoever meets him says the same things, sweet, kind, loving, all that stuff, and really it is a damn shame to worry your child it TOO innocent :-S

Thank you loads though all your responses have really helped me to relax and stop worrying so much, I was beginning to feel really low and like id really failed him, but I think that attitude is not helpful.


OP’s posts: |
Islagiatt Wed 31-Aug-11 21:21:48

My DS5 (July baby) is due to go into year 1 in 5 sleeps shock and can just about write his name, can read 3 letter words but no recognition and will write his letters if he absolutely must but no more and his wonderful Reception teacher has said that for the next term he can 'redo' the introduction to phonics with the new children.

He is about a year behind emotionally and wasn't really ready for school last year, but i don't want him me to lose the friendships with the other mums classmates. I love his school it is wonderful and have been so supportive of him and his relative immaturity - whilst loving his heartstopping smiles and affection smile

vanfurgston Thu 01-Sep-11 11:25:35

hi lifeinlalaland ur son sounds a lot like me wen i was younger (from what my mom tells me). my mom held me back from school for 2 yrs. i think thats the reason i cud do so well at school as i was with kids the same level as me emotionally

i had no idea the schooling here is so rigid and the arranging kids by age rather than ability and development is a very scary thought for me.

sallysizzle Tue 15-Apr-14 17:23:46

Can we have a update please? Your son sounds exactly like my daughter, has he caught up? Xxx

sallysizzle Tue 15-Apr-14 17:24:58

Can we have a update please, your sone sounds just like my daughter, would really like know how he's doing now x

Cast1ststone Sat 03-May-14 18:11:00

Your son does not have to conform and it okay to be different. I know you worry and I understand that but just keep trying your best and get him the help he needs to catch up academically. Who cares if he is not like their personalities and is free spirited and easily entertained. That is who he is. I would just be worrying about the learning part. He can be as silly and goofy as he wants. He will find friends silly like him and be happy being who he is. Just keep his confidence up and keep letting him know how proud you are when he tries. Who cares what other people think about him. I feel you could get him to not worry about what others think. Who CARES! If they are mean then he needs to learn to cope and find people to be around that accept him for who he is. Kids are mean no matter what anyways. I was bright in school and go picked on for being poor and asking too many questions but I feel it made me more compassionate to the less fortunate and a better person in general. I def was no bully, but these are life lessons that will teach him how to cope with being different and there is nothing wrong with differentsmile

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