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Following Ed Balls webchat, thread for parents of summer born babies

(325 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 11-Sep-09 17:13:54

We said we'd start this thread, as so many of you expressed an opinion on the Ed Balls webchat thread about summer-born babies and starting school.

BTW, this is a recent thread in media requests on a linked topic.

Will nip over to webchat thread and link to this.


Piffle Fri 11-Sep-09 23:08:13

<smug> october,feb and march mother

bosch Fri 11-Sep-09 23:10:48

<hmm> Sept, July and Oct mother. Not convinced at all that this is something to get het up about but July is only just 6...

blithedance Fri 11-Sep-09 23:14:24

It was interesting reading the Ed Balls webchat. My DS is late August and just started reception. He's academically quite bright, already reading, but would have failed the ATL union criteria on the radio this week of "And some come to school without being toilet-trained, unable to get dressed or use a knife and fork, says Lesley Ward, new president of the ATL union." (Well he's not 100% reliable on those things).

Already the teacher has had "words" with me about his behaviour, which is really just the last vestiges of toddlerhood coupled with an enormous dose of stress, insecurity and disorientation.

I didn't think he'd have a problem but if it doesn't settle down in a few weeks I think we will have to speak to the Head about their expectations and what support he's getting.

weegiemum Sat 12-Sep-09 07:58:43

I'm a Mum of 2 feb babies and a Nov baby - but in Scotland!

The earliest my older 2 (the feb ones) could have started school was at 4y6m, but I had the delightful choice to defer entry to school for a further year, so they both started at 5y6m. This wasn't possible for my Nov baby (I would have had to pay nursery fees for the year for her as she was pre-Christmas. SHe would have lost her free place). So she went at what I thought was the pretty young age of 4y9m.

I don't see what is wrong with allowing parents in England, Wales, N.Ireland to defer entry for a year. When mine started at 5 and a half they still went into Primary1 (reception equivalent) - which I understand is not possible - you can defer entry but then have to go straight into year 1?

purepurple Sat 12-Sep-09 08:16:28

My summer born (July) child struggled at school. He is now 20 and I think he was always playing catch-up with the older ones. At school, he was always friends with the younger children, never the older ones. Even now, at 20, he has no friends who are older than he is.
On the other hand, DD (September born) has always found school much easier.
She had 2 years at a school nursery before she started school, five afternoons a week. DS had a year at a playgroup, 3 mornings a week.
I think the different pre-schhol experiences have made a difference to both of them.
DD is confident, makes friends easily and is a real problem solver.
DS is shy, doesn't make friends easily, not very confident in his own abilities and gives up easily.

Doobydoo Sat 12-Sep-09 09:01:12

My ds1 was born 29th August[he has just turned 10][Double whammy...a summer born boy!]
Academically he has always been fine but he seems so much smaller than his peers!
I didn't know it was such a huge issue but as we have mainly home edded I did not have the worry re starting school too early.
My birthday is in July and I have never suffered for it.
It would be much better for parents to have the choice about when their children start school as they do in Ireland[where we have just recently returned to UK from].
I do feel that if ds1 was in year5 instead of year6 he would become bored with the academic side.But I think that parents know their children and should be given the choice.

primarymum Sat 12-Sep-09 09:12:04

Two boys, one end June, one end August! Both academically bright ( after a slow start by youngest who refused to read until he thought he could do it properly-but that was the AS as much as his age), both level 3's at KS1 and 5's at KS2, both passed 11+ and both went to grammar ( youngest one still there) Personally I think children are either bright or they're not. They may be less mature when in the earlier years of schooling but-as a yr 6 teacher,- they soon level out!

smugmumofboys Sat 12-Sep-09 09:18:41

Two summer born boys and, tbh, I've never worried about them . Both bright, reading well near the top of the class (and neither could read before they started school). DS1 (August) got mostly 3s in KS1.

My only problem was with DS1 in reception who was slow to settle behaviour-wise but that was only really the first term.

They are both friends with children both younger and older than them.

bronze Sat 12-Sep-09 09:28:13

I'm really worried about this. DD is an august baby. She was three months prem and was due in the october. She doesn't seem as mature as the children due at the same time as her let alone a school year ahead. She either has a hell of a lot of catching up to do this year or school is going to be a nightmare

epithet Sat 12-Sep-09 09:48:41

Good idea for a thread - dd2 (July born) has just started in Reception, and it will be interesting to compare her experience with that of her October-born sister, who has just moved up into Year 1.

I won't really be able to draw many conclusions from it, I realise - there are lots of variables in play. Dd2, as second-born, has always been more 'driven', wanting to catch up with her sister, so I'm not worried about her academically. I think the social aspect might be more difficult for her.

(I am July-born and never struggled at school academically, but I did have lots of trouble 'fitting in' with my peers.)

Fayrazzled Sat 12-Sep-09 09:48:44

My son is an August born due to start reception next week. There are always posts on threads like these where people pop up to say their summer born child's experience was fine- they're bright and have cruised through school- etc etc but really it's not very reassuring for many of us in this position. The overwhelming evidence, as opposed to anecdotes, is that summer borns, especially boys, fare less well at school and are in fact disadvantaged by their birthdays. They do not catch up and there remains a difference in the results of summer borns at the end of their school years; something like 20% fewer July and August born children go to university than those born earlier in the school year.*

To me, such a disadvantage is totally unacceptable. And it would be easily fixed by allowing parents to choose whether they send their just turned 4 year old to school or wait a year to send their just turned 5 year old to school the following year. But the crucial point, (and I hope Mr Balls reads this thread because it was fudged on the webchat) is that these children need to start in reception, not year one. I honestly fail to see why this is so difficult to achieve. Other countries manage it with no problems. It's not rocket science. All this bollocks about "Every Child Matters" really annoys me. Every child doesn't matter or we wouldn't have this situation.

*BTW, I'm not suggesting an education is all about getting to university at the end of it. It is about emotional and social education as well as academic. But younger children are more likely to be emotionally and socially immature compared to their older peers too.

teamcullen Sat 12-Sep-09 09:57:41

I have two summer borns. When DD (13) started school she was more than ready as she was very bright so there was no problems. She didnt fall behind or struggle in any way, so we were very lucky.

DS (7) would have found it difficult if he was at a school where children are expected to spend the majority of the day sitting at desks in a traditional classroom. However, we have a purpous built foundation unit at our school. Children are here from age 3-5 and we have foundation 1 (nursery) and foundation 2 (reception). Children still do the majority of their learning through play and social interaction. They are taken to a quite area in small groups to do more structured work. They have lots of circle time. The unit is set up to have discrete areas for learning and children have to move to different areas throughout the day.

This means that the transgression from nursery to full time school is smooth with a lot less tears. By the time they get to year one all the children are ready for a more traditional classroom set up.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Buda Sat 12-Sep-09 10:20:55

I posted on the Ed Balls thread and have posted on this subject many times.

My DS is an August birthday. He started nursery at 3 and went into Reception at 4. He wasn't interested in the academic side in any way for the first term. Teacher was great and didn't push him. He started getting interested about mid way through the Spring term. Coped fine all in all.

In Year 1 the differences became more apparent. He was way behind those who were 6 months to a year older than him.

In Year 2 it was even more apparent.

Ditto Year 3.

We are now in Year 4 and he is in bottom group for maths and needs a lot of extra support and help. Is also having support with fine motor skills.

If he was in Year 3 he would be fine.

Knowing that he is 'bottom' of the class pretty much and struggling and needing extra support/work/help has really impacted his confidence. Which makes him even more likely to fall further behind.

We are very lucky that we are in private school (currently overseas) and will return to UK in 2 years to a private school and we are planning on him repeating Year 5. New school don't have a problem with it unless he is top of class (which I know full well he won't be).

It is a load of rubbish and extremely short-sighted and damn well stupid to say that if a child is not ready for Reception at 4 then they should go straight into Year 1 at 5. Being not ready for Reception at 4 means that they will be ready for Reception at 5. It is not rocket science.

As others have pointed out it is not just about how a 4 year old copes with Reception. Summer born boys are less likely to do well academically. Having seen my DS I would say that part of this is because their confidence gets knocked at such a young age.

Of course there will always be exceptions. But in the main summer born children (esp boys) will do nothing but benefit from being able to defer their entry INTO RECEPTION until they are 5.

Denmark start boys a whole year younger than girls. Doesn't seem to cause problems.

As I stated on the other thread and someone else pointed out here, there is much more flexibility in Ireland. Legally a child can start school the term after they turn 4 but they do not HAVE to start until the term after they turn 5. Again the schools manage this. It does not pose organisational problems. It does not seem to pose problems as the children advance through the educational system.

I am sure the Irish Department of Education would be more than happy to show their English/Welsh equivalents how it works.

I also think it is totally, totally ludicrous to expect children who have been more premature to start based on their birthdate.

As far as I can see it is seen as not easy to change the current system. It may well not be easy. But the current system is not working and failing many summer borns. Particularly boys.

cory Sat 12-Sep-09 10:30:59

When I grew up in Sweden, parents who had children born at the end of the Yr 9 (so would have been 6 rather than 7 at the start of term) were allowed to decide for themselves, usually following discussions with the school nurse, whether the child was to start at 6 or defer a year. I started at 61/2; our neighbour's son at 7 1/2. We both went into the first year. Very civilised imo.

Ds was prem; should have been a summer birthday if adjusted. And has definitely been at a disadvantage throughout his time at school.

paddingtonbear1 Sat 12-Sep-09 11:13:46

my dd was 6 in July, and has just gone into yr 2. She wasn't ready to start school at 4 and has always struggled. In her old (very academic) school she managed to learn a fair bit in reception, despite not being that interested, but it took a lot of bribing/chivvying and some tears - dh and I didn't like this but it was what the school expected. Yr 1 was worse, and in the end we changed her school to another nearby where there's not so much pressure. It is better but she's still well behind, doesn't have much confidence and has poor concentration. She'd be far better in the year below.

MoonlightMcKenzie Sat 12-Sep-09 11:25:34

Statistics show that the majority of male prisoners are summer-born.

I think this whole summer thing is misleading tbh though. Children should start school when they are ready. They should access a curriculum and educational setting appropriate to their needs. The age thing is a red herring. What about SEN and G&T, and, well just general social and emotional development. Other countries have very different starting ages and there appears to be no marked difference between the education levels reached by them and us (some evidence to show later starters might do better).

RubyBlueberry Sat 12-Sep-09 11:30:52

From my experience, born on 30th August, I always felt I was "thicker" than my friends because I couldn't grasp stuff - this went all the way up to middle school I think.
Don't know if that helps or I have contributed to this very interesting thread but that's my take on it.

Buda Sat 12-Sep-09 11:43:09

MoonlightMcKenzie - I totally agree. In fact a friend's DS was in my DS's class and is a September birthday but was put into year ahead as very bright.

We parents know our children. We should be allowed to decide for ourselves. As I said Ireland (and other countries) manage.

Rindercella Sat 12-Sep-09 12:06:39

Having seen the problems DSS had at school (he has a late Aug b'day), and how badly he suffered for being the youngest in his year, I was actually trying to keep my legs crossed so that DD was born in September. She was born 30th Aug hmm and has just turned 2.

We are thinking that DD will be privately educated so that we can work with the school to see when we all think she is ready to progress to the next year rather than be dictated to by the LEA.

As well as DD's physical and intellectual development, her emotional readiness to be in school with children a year older than her needs to be taken into account. I believe this to be a very important point that is frequently overlooked.

I guess we are lucky that we have the option of private education for DD. Otherwise, she would end up at a primary state in a class of 50 (with two teachers of course hmm), getting totally lost. I have absolutely no confidence that the State system is equipped to give my DD the education we desire.

Btw, this isn't an attempt by me to get into a private vs state debate, I just wanted to say that this is what we personally want to do. smile

fruitshootsandheaves Sat 12-Sep-09 13:04:34

I agree with Buda. It is alot to do with having a knock to their confidence when they start school with children almost a year older than them who seem miles ahead. Once they lose thier confidence and 'friends' make comments then it gets really hard to make them feel they can achieve anything.

Due to spectacularly bad planning and the fact that the only month I seemed able to conceive I have 3 August born children!
DD1 28th, DS1 19th and DS2 5th.
They have all struggled except DS1 who did struggle for a couple of years until he appeared to be brainwashed and reprogrammed with superior alien intelligence in year 4.
DS2 is now 8. He can't read or write anywhere near the standard he is 'supposed' to be at, nor does he seem to have any desire to try! I think this is partly due to a confidence knock and comments from a few not-so-well meaning friends when he first started school.
But it could just be that I am a crap mum!

Fayrazzled Sat 12-Sep-09 13:44:19

I think the self-confidence/ esteem point is a very important one. My son may only just be 4, but he is acutely aware of what he can't do in comparison with his peers. He knows he can't hold a pencil as well as the vast majority, for example, and becomes very frustrated at his attempts to do so. It's so upsetting to watch- and I can see his confidence falter.

Plus, my son is relatively lucky in that I'm aware of the issue. i can be here to support him where I can, praise him and give him as much of my time as he needs. But what about those children who for very many reasons have parents who can't or won't? Is it acceptable for them to be left behind all because of their birthdate?

I notice that (I think but can't check)without exception, all of those who have posted to say there wasn't an issue for their summer born children have gone on to say how "bright" or "very bright" those children are. What about the children who aren't bright? Where does the system leave them?

GirlsAreLOud Sat 12-Sep-09 14:05:32

Moonlight, which statistics show this? Can you give a breakdown of research? I'd love to read it.

Buda Sat 12-Sep-09 14:29:30

fruitshoots - my DS is 5th Aug too and is also 8. Twins!

Was just talking to my sis today and she said that in Ireland they don't legally have to be in school until they are 6!!! It is quite rare that a child won't start until then but her DS has just started and he will be 5 this month. He will be second youngest in the year.

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