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Is anyone else not sure their child is ready to start in September?

(61 Posts)
annieversaire Mon 08-Aug-11 08:39:00

I can't decide whether to send him part time for ages, ie as long as he needs, or just not send him at all till Easter.

I think he could use some stimulation tbh but physically, he's no way ready.

He barely eats any proper food. He can't use cutlery, full'll be packed lunch or nothing, but what to put in it...

He can't use the loo by himself, he's too short, and can't wipe his bottom though he does wash his hands...but he washes them for like, 10 minutes. grin

He refuses to wear anything apart from a few selected pyjama tops and one pair of trousers, well, I only manage to get him out of them when he's spilt water on them or something.
Nothing else will do and anything I present as 'new' or 'school clothes' is met with an icy stare and 'that's not mine'.

This is quite apart from the fact that he can't recognise his own name, refuses to wear shoes (only wellies), can't say the alphabet, count above ten, thinks three means two, and the only thing he can draw is a scribble.

He was four in June yet refuses to be called four, he is still three in his world.
He is very shouty.

Has anyone else got a child like this and what are you doing about starting school? Now we have the option to defer till Easter I am seriously tempted, but I don't want him to be bored.

Bonsoir Mon 08-Aug-11 08:40:42

You know what? Peer pressure will help him grow up. He will find it much easier to learn all those physical self-care tasks in an environment where other children are also learning them than if he stays at home.

Catsmamma Mon 08-Aug-11 08:42:35

My youngest was a year late to school......we don't have the option of easter entry here in Scotland

He is now 13 and has sailed through school, primary and senior. I think four is very young to be at proper school and would not hesitate to keep a child back.

annieversaire Mon 08-Aug-11 08:46:35

Thankyou both, I am impressed that your ds has adjusted so well Catsmamma, were you unusual in keeping him back?

Bonsoir that is a very good point. I just don't want him to be in trouble all the time or feeling helpless as I know they aren't allowed to help with things like the toilet. He will be worried about it if I'm not there to help.

Or he might start holding it in and having accidents or something. I don't want him to regress when he's doing so well at home.

OTOH the eating could do with a helping hand so peer pressure would be great on that front.

Bonsoir Mon 08-Aug-11 08:51:46

Don't worry - no-one expects 4 year olds to know it all!

IndigoBell Mon 08-Aug-11 09:45:21

He doesn't sound ready to start school sad

Being able to go to the loo by yourself, and being able to get changed into your PE clothes, and being able to eat your lunch are pretty important skills to master before starting school.

I think I'd discuss it with school and see what they think - only you'll find it hard to do that in the summer holidays.

They probably have an email address, and they'll probably read emails during the holidays, so I think I'd email them with your concerns and see what they think.......

Does he go to nursery? What do they think?

annieversaire Mon 08-Aug-11 09:57:24


Indigo, they do answer emails as I had to contact them about something official last week. So the secretaries are there but I don't think they would know what to say about something like this. I think it has to be my decision iykwim...albeit one I'm struggling with.

The preschool lady said he was ready, at least mentally, and I know he is in that sense but it';s the rest of it that worries me. He is very young in many ways and I think he will need more physical help than they are able to give.

IndigoBell Mon 08-Aug-11 10:17:09

I guess first off, for the next 4 weeks, insist he get's himself dressed, feeds himself his lunch (give him whatever you would in a packed lunch) and goes to the toilet by himself.

(Probably this week give him lots of verbal prompting to do all that - and then gradually phase it out.)

Also remember they'll have little toilets at school, not full size ones.

Then you'll see if he can manage all of the above or not.

I wouldn't worry about any of the academics skills at the moment. They won't prevent him from starting school.

You still have a few weeks before you need to make a decision......

annieversaire Mon 08-Aug-11 10:33:41

Thankyou, I think I do need to test his abilities at home, you're right. That will make it a bit clearer.

DeWe Mon 08-Aug-11 12:40:05

Ds was 4 in June too. He doesn't seem ready compared to his sisters who were both winter babies.
I was worrying about things like getting changed, so a couple of weeks ago I started giving him his clothes and challenging him to dress. He'd rather go round wearing nothing, so I didn't think he'd be bothered. To my surprise he had a bit of difficulty in doing it, but within a couple of days I found he can dress himself, including socks etc. He'd still rather I did it, but I now know he can.
I just needed to stop doing so much for him. The girls did their own stuff because there was a baby so they had to. As my youngest it's often quicker and easier for me to do it.

stickytoffee Mon 08-Aug-11 12:47:20

DS 1 is a July baby. I worried about alsorts of things (although he was quite independent in the clothes/toilet/feeding stakes by then) but what I would say is that there are lots of kids older than my DS who weren't and also children with other behavioural issues. Our school (and of course it depends on the school) have been brilliant at handling these things. They have people there to help with lunch (packed lunch only requires hands anyway) some kids are slow eaters, won't eat anything other than cheese sandwiches etc etc... and are there helping to get them changed for PE.

Kids , as someone earlier said, learn from each other and perhaps putting him in this environment might make him sit up and think a bit. Perhaps see if he can do half days for the first term - he might then make the decision that he wants to go full days.

I found the whole sending off to school thing scary - I have an emotional and sensitive DS who finds separation hard but after we both got over the first few days (!) it has been amazing to see how much they grow up in a year.

THis might well be a turning point for him.

Saracen Mon 08-Aug-11 14:20:00

I don't think your little guy is ready for school. But I don't think that reflects badly on him. Why shouldn't he carry on for a little longer being shouty, pretending he is three and wearing wellies and pajamas? (LOL at the icy stare and "that's not mine"!) He's still very little, and he sounds a lovely character. If you tried hard enough, maybe you could get him to conform to most of the things which are expected at school. Is the price worth paying?

When you say your son might be bored if he stayed out of school longer, in what sense do you mean? Does he thrive on the hustle and bustle of being with lots of kids - in which case perhaps he could stay at preschool for another year? (Does he like preschool?) Or do you mean academically - in which case maybe you could do things with him at home? There are lots of four year olds all over the world who aren't at school, and aren't bored. Sometimes I think that parents' perception that children will get bored if they don't start school at the same time as other children around them is just born of the fact that "everyone else" goes to school and so it must be necessary, or maybe not realising that all children do need periods of boredom and moaning before they get motivated to find something to do, or maybe not taking a close look at what sorts of things can prevent the child from being too bored and making an effort to address that (such as getting out of the house more).

My first child didn't start school until she was older. She could have coped fine at school: she was sociable, bright, outgoing and conformist, as well as being autumn-born. I simply didn't want her to be told just yet to stop singing all day or to come out from under the table where she loved to lurk. When she did start school, the decision was easy and I didn't have a minute's worry. By then I was completely sure she could carry a lunch tray, stick up for herself and other kids, use the toilet, get dressed, speak up if something was bothering her... and in the meantime she'd had a great time playing with pals and being herself at home. The transition to school was painless for both of us because she did it when she was ready and wanted to.

Her little sister has special needs; she's a year older than your son and at a similar stage to where he is now. Again, she could have coped with school, probably. With the right support, she could have survived an environment that was designed for other children rather than for her. I hope a member of staff would have been assigned to help her use the toilet, get up the stairs, and change clothes. They would have coaxed her to use a pencil sometimes (she has no interest in that!) and maybe put a buddy system in place so someone would stay and play with her even though she can usually only walk a few steps, so tends to get left behind in a busy playground. But really, I couldn't see the point. Why bother with all that, when she was happy playing one-on-one with her friends and pottering around at home? Here she can do things whenever she's ready, blissfully unaware that other people would say she is "behind" or "challenged" or "in need of extra help" or whatever the current PC phrase is which means she doesn't measure up to what is expected of the average child her age?

Your son might just be too young for school this year, in which case time alone will make him ready and eager. Or he might turn out to be a wonderfully quirky character who will never be particularly keen to do things just because everyone else does, in which case a little more maturity will make it easier for him to get through school with his self-esteem intact despite being a square peg in a round hole.

(Removing home ed hat... uh, oops, it seems to be stuck on.)

annieversaire Mon 08-Aug-11 17:50:38

Thankyou all...Saracen what a beautifully written post, I was after doing home ed myself but my family were all steadfastly against it so I crumbled.

Ds1 really likes school though.
I will think some more about what he really needs and also what he really can do himself. I think he might surprise me.

Thankyou for all the ideas and thoughts.

UnSerpentQuiCourt Mon 08-Aug-11 21:16:05

Saracen, how old was your first daughter when she started school? I so identify with your wish 'not to want her to be told just yet to stop singing all day or to come out from under the table'. My dd is about to start reception a year late at 5.2 and I am very ambivilant ....

AdelaofBlois Tue 09-Aug-11 13:16:59

Basically, your DC sounds 'needy' but 'ready', and far from a disaster case. He can eat after all (providing you give him a lunch, as many parents choose to do) and he is toilet trained (he just needs a stool). He'll need more help than others getting changed, but most Recpetion children need some help. He'll have to wear clothes he doesn't like-as will many kids in uniform. And he'll have to be a little less shouty-as do most reception kids. And the intellectual knowledge stuff is irrelevant-just put a marker on his stuff-a sticker or key chain until he recognises his name.

It is very scary. My DS turns 4 four days before the cut off date-he will be the youngest in his year. He eats messily (with mixture of cutlery and fingers), has been fully toilet trained for only about a month and a half, can't get any clothing tops on himself (has huge head-what he can pull over is three years too big for him). He copes at nursery, but there is more support there. But he is getting there-he will do what he can when he has to and will ask for help when he won't ('I do it myself but call for help if I need', he announces). I think that he will need more support but, providing it is clear he is doing his best, hope it will come.

It is a huge worry but, believe me, given two months ago he was regularly crapping himself with a smile on his face, there is a real difference between 'difficult' and 'not actually ready', and I think you should be grateful your child can cope.

An0therName Tue 09-Aug-11 13:52:41

Hmm - - could he stayat preschool ?
but remember reception isn't really "proper" school - its is or should be loads and loads of play-not that different from pre-school really
has he been for a visit? Its normal in england to do so in the summer term
what did he think? Does he know any other children who are going?

the toilet - they are small at school so may not such an issue - although I would work on the bum wiping

and agree loads of children need help getting changed
I think I would try part time - although some children find that more difficult as its unsettling
food - personally I would give him school dinners - my DS1 suddenly go way less fussy when he had them - and he can just copy the other children for knife and fork

Saracen Wed 10-Aug-11 05:39:10

UnSerpentQuiCourt: My dd was nine when she started school. Several families in our local home ed group planned to wait and send their children to school at six or seven because they felt four was too young. About half of them did start school around that age, and the kids found school an easy adjustment. The others, like us, found that their children were enjoying home education so much that there didn't seem to be any particular reason to send them to school at 6/7 after all, so they stayed out longer.

I had expected it might take a while for my dd to be accepted, you know how everyone says it can be hard to break into established friendship groups. But the children were all eager to meet someone new and were very welcoming. I also thought she'd be somewhat on the back foot because everyone else knew the school routines, played the same playground games and sang the same songs etc... but again, they were glad to meet somebody whose experiences were different to their own and could teach them some new games and songs. They clearly enjoyed being helpful and showing her how things were done. So she was quite popular from day one.

I'd also thought she might take a while to get used to having to do things in a certain way, such as eating all of her lunch at lunchtime instead of eating half of it and then snacking on the rest throughout the afternoon. But she quickly figured out that if she didn't eat it all up then she would be very hungry by the end of the school day. When she was four, she definitely didn't have the ability to plan ahead like that! Loads of other little things like that come easily to an older child but not to a young one. That was a real benefit to being older when she started.

It seems odd to me that just one or two adults are on hand to look after so many small children at school: childminders aren't allowed to look after anywhere near that number. So there is a need for children at school to have emotional maturity and self-care skills which are more advanced than they would need elsewhere, and a need for all the children to be doing the same things in the same way at the same time of day. If that doesn't come easily to a particular four-year-old, it's hard on both the child and her teachers.

UnSerpentQuiCourt Wed 10-Aug-11 21:01:22

I am a teacher. The only way I can manage 37 children is if they do what I say when I say it. I know that that is not right for the majority of the children and that the most able are bored, the least able are bewildrered and alienated, the most creative are frustrated and lose self belief .... this is why I hate the idea of the system for my dd, who is very creative and not very able, as well as being rather timid. sad I know the harm it does.

titchy77 Tue 16-Aug-11 08:50:32

I am in the same predicament, my dd cant dress herself independently, I don't know how she will cope at lunchtimes & she still is wetting herself if I am not constantly reminding her. I really dont know what to do but she will be 5 in Feb and not sure if I can even defer her place. She may come on in leaps and bounds but I'd hate to think that it will set her back when she may not be ready to go. Did you email the school and have you made a decision on what to do? I will be intrested to hear what you decide to do!smile

SDeuchars Tue 16-Aug-11 09:27:07

The government says:
A child becomes of compulsory school age when they reach the age of five and, where a parent has elected to register their child at school, they must start school in the term following their fifth birthday.

So, legally, your DD does not have to start school until the summer term next year. How that would affect the school at which you have accepted a place, I don't know but you could find out, knowing that the law is on your side.

You could simply write to the school and say that you no longer require the place. You would then be home-educating from February (but you can just continue with whatever you are doing up to then - there is no magical change on the 5th birthday). If you decide to send her to school at a later stage, you go through the applications process again, for the age-appropriate year (just as you would if you moved house).

AdelaofBlois Tue 16-Aug-11 11:33:28


I really think the advice to defer or home ed on these threads is really unhelpful and reflects a huge amount of crap talked about readiness, especially in terms of physical self-care (as opposed to cognitive or interactive problems)

Many reception children can't dress fully independently, nor indeed can many YR1 children. It's great if they can, but not such an issue. Similarly, feeding from a lunchbox needn't be so hard, and younger children can be supported at meals. Toilet training is more problematic, but you should communicate to the teacher that she will need reminding and she will be accommodated. There are children in our reception in nappies, who are fine to cope with school otherwise, and accidents happen.

Mrz will jump on me, but I'm sure Reception teachers ask for children to be moved towards full(ish) self-care not because these are genuine pre-requisites for school, but to focus parental attention on what is really helpful in the classroom. If 15 kids out of 30 can dress themselves, 20 eat tidily and 28 be basically dry then there is time to devote to the care needs of those who for various reasons struggle.

If you or the OP have real concerns about readiness then ask the school for an EP assessment. Seek medical advice on continence issues if you haven't already. All that can be desired is that you give your daughter as much help as you can in moving her towards self-care, not that you have succeeded totally.

Can she talk clearly, communicate and hear? Does she interact well with other kids? Does she show signs of learning and remembering stuff? Are the other issues improving so as to suggest development? If the answer to those is yes, she'll be fine.

mrz Tue 16-Aug-11 11:45:41

It really isn't a problem if your child can't dress and undress, eat school lunch or do quantum physics. It's helpful all round if they can make an attempt at putting on their own coat I'll help with zips and buttons if needed, I'll cut up food and show how to hold knives and forks and I'll even support wiping their own bum. I expect young children to have toilet accidents and I hope parents will let me know if there is a medical issue ...

emeraldislander Tue 16-Aug-11 13:48:03

telling posters to write to the council saying you no longer want the place is a bit risky - there is no guarantee there will a place for your child in Year 1

titchy77 Tue 16-Aug-11 16:06:47

Thank you for all your advice.
I think you are right Adela, i'm sure she will be fine. My main worry is the wetting but I will speak to her teacher & explain everything. Yes she can speak fairly clearly and can talk in full sentences. I think if I defer then I maybe making it harder for her to mix & make friends. I have been teaching her to dress herself each day and hopefully by the time she starts she will be almost there.
Another question I wanted to ask is do they need to be able to write their name or anything? My dd can count to around 15 but is unable to write letters/numbers...we do sit with her and teach her but again I'm hoping this will come with time, is this normal??
Thank you again for all your advice

UnSerpentQuiCourt Tue 16-Aug-11 20:24:10

Adela, why are you so keen to get all these four-year olds into school, ready or not? In other European countries they often don't start until 6 or 7, with no negative educational outcomes.
Titchy, in my experience (primary school teacher for 10+ years), I have seen many children join classes at different stages, with no problems making friends ... and some who started from the beginning who find it really hard to integrate.
Don't overthink what could happen at school; think about your child. Do you feel that she is ready to be away from home and independent five days a week? Do you think she would enjoy it? If not, wait until you think that she is/would.
She will be in the education system for at least 13 years. I think that it is really important to make a positive start, even if that means waiting a few weeks or months.
Good luck!

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