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Starting school a year early

(45 Posts)
Boglin Thu 26-Nov-15 15:26:55

My son (3) is due to start school (reception) in September 2017. He's quite bright and SIL suggested to me today after speaking to a teacher friend of hers that we could apply for him to start school a year early.

Is there any advantage to us doing this?

I do have concerns that he will be bored in reception year as I'm led to believe that he can already do most of what will be covered but I don't know if him starting early will be too detrimental socially.

Has anyone done this and can share their experience? Or is there anyone who regretted not doing it? I really have no idea what to do for the best but decisions will need to be made soon as school applications for Sept '16 will close in January!

Thanks in advance.

wannaBe Thu 26-Nov-15 15:35:46

I'm not entirely sure it's even possible for him to start early, but in the event it is, the significant disadvantages are:

No matter how academicaly bright he is, emotionally he is still a baby, there is a lot of evidence that the youngest children struggle the most in terms of learning to concentrate, with frendships etc, there is a lot more to being ready for school than academic ability.

Also, while it may be possible for him to start school early, it wouldn't be possible for him to go into secondary early, and again, the emotional maturity would be an issue there, but in any event he would need to repeat a year in primary in order to go into secondary at the right age.

and tbh there's no way of really knowing whether he's actually gifted at this age. he's only just three. Don't put a three year old into school, just don't.

Contraryish Thu 26-Nov-15 15:36:30

As far as I know it's not an option, except perhaps in the independent sector. But even so, they spend enough time at school, let him be young a little longer!

futureme Thu 26-Nov-15 15:39:15

I wouldn't. My daughter is bright and will be one of the oldest in her class and to be honest I'm relieved. In Australia the m/c set are actively trying to delay their starting age so in some areas will start at 6 or 7!

I still think learning through play should happen for as long as possible. In terms of thing being "covered" at reception it shouldn't be the case as its playbased. You can't exhaust writing at the writing table or exploring number or materials or role play!

I've learnt lessons from my oldest child to be honest. Just because she CAN read chapter books young doesnt mean she SHOULD. She still loves pictures and childrens stories as she's still a child. Let children be children....

GiddyOnZackHunt Thu 26-Nov-15 15:40:03

I had the same thoughts about my clever September baby at about 3. She probably would have been fine but I decided it would be nice to have the extra time together and didn't bother.

strawberryandaflake Thu 26-Nov-15 15:40:32

You CAN go into state secondary a year early. It may depend on your LEA. We have 2 students at our school who are (I'm the assistant head). You should definitely be able in the private sector.

It won't hurt them emotionally or behaviourally if they attend from scratch. It's good for them to have the stimulation if they are ready for it. Problems (if any) are caused by moving them up a year later on in life. Try calling some schools in your area and see what they say.

goshhhhhh Thu 26-Nov-15 15:41:01

I really wouldn't. I have a bright boy who is August bday. He essentially ( in my mind) started early. He would have been much better in year below for many of the reasons above. Whilst he is bright he has had to work hard to overcome many disadvantages. You would just make life harder for him.

strawberryandaflake Thu 26-Nov-15 15:42:08

You don't stop children being children by sending them to infant school! What a silly thing to say! They don't suddenly start reciting go the periodic table and doing 10 hours if homework a week!

R0nJ0n Thu 26-Nov-15 15:51:08

I wouldn't, he'll still socially be a three year old. DD is good friends with the youngest girl in her class. This girl isn't an early starter but has a late summer birthday, she's very bright, top set for everything but outside the classroom it's really obvious that's she's a lot younger than the rest of the class.

I can only speak for our school but if it's a case that a child is exceeding their year's work by quite a large margin they will be put into an older class for specific lessons, but for non academic things they go back with their peer group.

MashaMisha Thu 26-Nov-15 15:53:16

I really wouldn't.
My child is bright. I have no doubts they would have coped with school academically at 3.

But all the other things - using the toilets, coping in the playground with bigger children charging around, carrying a tray with their lunch balanced precariously on it across a busy school hall, holding their own socially with children who could be almost 2 years older. I wouldn't want to put my child through that, however well they could read.

And if they stayed with the same cohort going up the school, I definitely wouldn't want them to be considerably younger than their peers when they were all teenagers. I think the gulf might widen again then, when everyone else could legally drive, or go to the pub or whatever, and your child would have another year to wait. I think they'd either be socially isolated, or desperately trying to keep up, and I wouldn't fancy either scenario for my child.

SocksRock Thu 26-Nov-15 15:55:11

You would be better finding a school that is prepared to differentiate properly for him. At our school, children move around classes for the academic subjects but remain put for topic work, etc. My DD1 is very able at literacy, and she works with the next class up for that, but in her year group for everything else.

RandomMess Thu 26-Nov-15 15:56:59

I wouldn't either, captivate his academic interest with past times and hobbies (music???) but leave school until he's older because the social immaturity will show. If the academic gap is huge in reception he will need the social maturity to not alienate friendships!!!

Boglin Thu 26-Nov-15 15:57:23

Thanks for the replies, it's taken me a bit aback really as I hadn't heard of it before so just want to explore all the options. I know he could well even out with his peers as he gets older and I don't describe him as 'gifted' because I can't see any advantage to it at his age and also it's too early to tell. This seemed like the most appropriate place to ask though as he does seem to be heading that way.

I have been looking at schools anyway as I really want to do the best by him but we were hoping to move area once we decide which schools we'd like to apply for and that will not happen before January (house is on the market but no takers as yet).

Futureme, that's reassuring about reception being play-based. My concern really is that he has 2 more years before starting reception and if his progress in the next 2 years is the same as in the last 2 then he is going to be really quite far ahead. I just don't want him being bored and disruptive and losing his enthusiasm for learning.

Ugh, I was already tying myself in knots about schools and now this has been thrown into the mix!

howabout Thu 26-Nov-15 16:00:29

I was offered early entry for my DD1. I didn't pursue it. She is now 14 and I have never regretted sending her with her normal intake. Life is very easy for a bright child in their normal school cohort. I see no advantage to pushing them on early.

mouldycheesefan Thu 26-Nov-15 16:03:15

How can you tell he will be far ahead? You don't know what the other children will be able to do or not do! Some of them will be five years old when they start. There is a huge range of ability in reception but the key things teachers want are children who can dress themselves, wait patiently for their turn, put their hand up when they want to speak, share, go to the toilet by themselves, eat without help, put in own coats, sit nicely, queue up, work with some degree of independence, make friends, tidy up, remember their stuff etc etc etc all of these things are rewarded in reception.
Your son will be much better off being one of the older more capable ones than one of the youngest with the maturity levels to match.

Boglin Thu 26-Nov-15 16:05:04

Cross-posted with quite a few then!

Socially, he's pretty confident, he tends to seek out slightly older children anyway (my friend has 4 children and my son spends more time with the 6 year old than the 4 or 3 year old) and he is quite physically able. I get what you're saying though, he's still a baby really and I don't feel ready for him to start next year but I want to give the idea full consideration!

Perhaps my question should be how to find a school that differentiates properly? That sounds like something I'd be much happier with. If anyone can recommend any schools in Greater Manchester that would be great, as I mentioned upthread, we are willing to move area for the right school.

Boglin Thu 26-Nov-15 16:08:56

mouldycheesefan I can't tell, that's why I said if he continues at the same rate he'll be ahead. He can already do a lot of what reception-age children can so I don't think it's a ridiculous speculation to think that he will progress more in the next 2 years. But who knows!

Boglin Thu 26-Nov-15 16:11:11

Thanks howabout, that's good to know. Who offered the early intake, the school?

howabout Thu 26-Nov-15 16:14:50

Yes, her nursery was attached to the school (in Scotland) and it was in the context of parents' meeting at nursery.

mouldycheesefan Thu 26-Nov-15 16:15:57

My issue wasn't that they could already do what reception children could do, in fact this wasn't the case at all as so much of it is behavioural based and they found it tiring going into a new environment and learning the ropes, it was more that during the last year of nursery they were not academically challenged but looking back now it was time well spent doing forest school, planting things, splodging and gaining confidence. They zipped along in reception and that extra year in nursery was time well spent

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Thu 26-Nov-15 16:17:21

In what ways is your DS exceptionally clever? Can he read? Can he write or do simple addition?

I have a bright August born DD, who is 4 and whilst she is very bright and, to use her teacher's words, "way above the level a Reception child should be at by November" she is still much younger emotionally than some of the now 5 year olds in the class.

That is what I would be concerned about, sending your DS into a setting he wasn't emotionally/mentally ready for, even if he could manage well academically speaking.

Noteventhebestdrummer Thu 26-Nov-15 16:32:08

I know a great S Manchester violin teacher who loves teaching bright 3 year olds smile if you're interested

Boglin Thu 26-Nov-15 16:37:37

mouldycheesefan his behaviour is definitely not advanced! grin It's really useful reading others' experience of this so thank you to you and everyone who has shared theirs.

Santas, in a word, yes. He can spell out and blend simple words (cat, bat, mat etc), he knows his alphabet literally inside out and can recite it backwards so fast that my dyslexic DH just looks at me for confirmation of whether or not he did it right. He can write and type his own name and mama, dada, his sister's name and our surname. He knows what combinations add up to 10 and can count to 100. He's good with shapes (my dad described something as an oval and DS corrected him and said it was an ellipse. We were all WTF?). He's obsessed with letters and numbers and almost everything he does is related to them.

He is not emotionally mature though, he had a screaming meltdown over pancakes this morning. He also doesn't deal with change very well which is why we are agonising over schools because I only want to move house once so this move has to do for the next 15 or so years.

Boglin Thu 26-Nov-15 16:40:13

Noteven, I'm not sure my nerves could cope with the screeching beautiful sounds of a small child learning the violin! grin Especially as he would no doubt become obsessed with it and want to practice it for 18 hours a day!

Mistigri Thu 26-Nov-15 16:43:12

From what I gather, you will struggle to do this outside the independent sector.

However FWIW and to give a slightly different perspective, I have two kids who both started formal education a year early (but we live in a country where compulsory education starts at age 6 and more "formal" reception-equivalent work at age 5) - and quite honestly within a few months of being moved up, the age difference becomes a non-issue especially for children whose birthday falls early in the school year.

My oldest is obviously "gifted" and was identified by the her preschool within weeks of starting (was reading fluently at 3). Also socially mature for her age. She's now 14, in the equivalent of Y11 (at a French lycée), and very happy - flying academically on a highly selective course, socially integrated.

My son is very able - I couldn't say if he's gifted. Birthday falls just after the cut off and because he was already reading well his pre-school insisted on putting him up a year. Academically it's been fine, and surprisingly - given that he's not the most mature or sociable boy - he's had no issues socially either.

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