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How much of a difference does being the youngest or oldest in a year make? Help needed!

(11 Posts)
juniperinNZ Sat 12-Oct-13 05:45:03

My DD started school in New Zealand at the beginning of May (we have been here a couple of years and intend to stay).

The school system works differently to the UK one, as children normally start on their 5th birthday. They go into a Year 0/1 class when they start school, and then the next year they go into either a Year 1 or Year 2 class. The school year runs from January to December, and generally those who have a birthday before April 30th go into Year 2 and those born after go into 1, but the school has flexibility on this, and April/May birthdays have a lot of discussion. It is up to the teacher, with some parental discussion, as to where each child goes.

This does mean that some children going into Year 1 will have done 3 terms of school (there are 4 terms here), whereas others may have only done 1, and for Year 2 some 3/4 terms, others 6/7 terms. They generally stay in these years all the way through school, so some will go to uni at 17, others at 18 (if they go, obviously).

My DD's birthday is in the middle of April, at the end of term 1, so which year group she goes into is up to discussion. It will mean that she will either be the youngest in her year for her school career, or the oldest. Which do you think is better? Or does it make much of a difference? She is currently working at quite a bit above national standards for reading, above for writing and at the standard for maths, so her teacher says she will be academically able enough for Year 2, but the social side needs taking into account too.

Seems like a massive decision to be making, and we want to go with what the teacher feels is best for her as much as possible (they decide end of Nov), but I'd really love to get people's experiences on how much of a difference they think it makes!

SavoyCabbage Sat 12-Oct-13 05:53:43

Hold her back. I'm in Australia and we have the same system. I thought it was good at first but now I hate it as my dd is in a 1/2 composite class. She's six and other children are eight as they have been held back. Even in prep which was a 'straight' class there were children born in the same week, a month apart.

Everyone I know who has not held them back regrets it. Although that could just be because parents feel guilty whatever they do. My friends little boy was not held back and is doing fine academically but struggles socially. Another friend had her dd assessed to see if she was ready, they said she was but she really struggled and has ended up moving schools to start prep again.

Talkinpeace Sat 12-Oct-13 17:54:38

UK, the cutoff date is 1st September. DS was born late August - so a week later and he'd be in the year below.
He is flying at the top of his year group.
Kid who is exactly the same age is struggling.
Its about individuals far more than birth dates.

LIZS Sat 12-Oct-13 18:22:29

agree with talkin, dd is similar academically but sometimes finds it harder socially and is very slight physically so not sporty. Whenever there is a cut off there is a discrepancy but statistics can prove all sports. Similarly friends with April/May born dc had to argue to get their children on chosen year group with end April cut off in Switzerland , even though there was supposed to be leeway for those born between Feb and April - some May bdays would be more ready to start by August than their April counterparts but have no choice but to wait.

gussiegrips Sat 12-Oct-13 18:33:35

We're in Scotland, cut off here is 28th Feb - our DD is a leap year baby...and, we sent her I had 2 younger kids so it was either that or become an alcoholic

She's 18 months younger than the oldest kid in the year (who was held back extra months because of SEN)

She's 9 now - and, truly, it's only now that I notice her age difference - I expect that will persist til the end of her education.

She's simply not as sophisticated as the other girls, so, whilst they are into bands and makeup and texting - she is into snails and puppies and horses (a good thing). She's physically less mature than them - so we've had to have The Talk as she'll hear from her peers stuff before I'd have considered it relevant to her as an individual.

However, these things don't faze her. Someone has to be the oldest and someone has to be the youngest. If anything, she has enjoyed the status it has afforded her.

Plus, she's bright. She'd have been bored and played up if she had been deferred. Academically, she's been fine.

We'll see what the next few years bring - but, in all honesty, sending her was the right decision for her and us as a family.

Schmedz Sat 12-Oct-13 18:50:25

Agree that it is less about the age than the individual. I would definitely opt for putting her up and then if you ever move back to the UK she will be more in line with her peers here. Also, if her teacher feels she will cope academically then she is bound to be fine.
If she was a boy I would consider holding back as school is definitely more structured to suit girls and the way they learn. Also physically the difference between youngest boys and oldest boys is more marked when it comes to sport etc... It seems to make less difference with primary school aged girls.

RandomMess Sat 12-Oct-13 18:52:50

I'd hold back, my 3 are among the youngest in their years 2 of them are academic high flyers top of the class but I'd still hold them back if I had the choice as they are definitely "young" compared to their peers.

juniperinNZ Sun 13-Oct-13 01:32:16

Thanks for all your replies! I am in a bit of a muddle really, as she is young compared to some others, loves princesses, mermaids, fairies etc and we always said we wanted her to be able to follow her interests as much as possible without others telling her she was babyish - which would be my worry if she went straight into Year 2. However, from an academic point of view I think she will do fine in Year 2.

It seems a big thing to us to be making a decision now as to whether she will leave school at 17 or 18 - I was wondering whether an extra year at school would be an advantage? Universities here offer scholarships for the first year for those who have achieved 'excellent' in their school results for example...

Gussie we have the same thing with DD, she gets bored easily and does need to be challenged, so was my main reason for thinking Year 2, however, as you and others said the social side is important, so loads of reasons for Year 1 too! I am going round in circles a bit grin.

Savoy there is a chance she might end up in a composite class, are they really that bad?

Think I need to talk to lots of other Kiwis about their experiences at school, and it will be really interesting to see what her teacher says at the end of November...

SavoyCabbage Sun 13-Oct-13 03:04:14

It's not the same as them being the oldest or youngest in a class in the UK because you are given the choice here. So, the children can be much, much older or younger than each other. Not just a year. When my dd started school, some were four and some were six, soon to be seven.

i have also heard the debate that your child will be sixteen and in the same class and friends with children who are 18. So there is the high school element to look at too.

The composite classes don't work for my dd. She is working well above the standard so has a good year when she's in the lower class in the composite but is bored rigid in the upper class. And the wide range of ages makes it even more tricky.

Bonsoir Sun 13-Oct-13 07:37:50

Keep her in line with her UK peers as far as possible if you intend to return one day.

Adikia Mon 14-Oct-13 17:23:18

UK here, DD is one of the oldest in her year, DS is the youngest in his combined year 5/6 class, its not been an issue for either of them and both have a nice group of friends as there are children more mature than them and children who are far more childish.

I think DS would have got really bored if he'd been kept down a year though as hes already top of his class, even above the year 6's, some of whom are nearly 2 years older than him.

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