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Talk to me about delaying school till they are actually full time

(48 Posts)
drspouse Wed 04-May-16 14:36:33

DS gets very anxious about change in routine. At the moment we inevitably have different pick up times on different days (e.g. if I have to work late I get him from nursery in the later session where they have their tea, rather than the main session which they finish with fruit and then we have tea at home). He asks pretty much every day, sometimes several times, what time I'm picking him up.

I'm thinking of keeping a few extra weeks nursery with his current sessions and then starting him at the point a few weeks into term when they are actually all full time. This would mean he just had nursery as normal, then school with a single change to his new timetable. Nursery offer half days for children settling in to Reception anyway so there will be some friends there on most of his days.

Has anyone else done this? Would you recommend it? Anything else to be aware of e.g. were school hard to persuade?

He will know 3 or 4 DC from nursery at his new school and knowing those particular children they are quite inclusive so I don't think friendship groups will be set in stone at that point. I can't really see that they learn their complete new routine during the part time weeks to be honest, so I'm not sure he'll miss out on that either.

I have also slightly considered starting part time for the whole of Reception year (or the first two terms) but if we did it would be 4 full days not part days, because I do need to work 0.8 on 4 full days (work would not really be happy about an early finish.)

Wolfiefan Wed 04-May-16 14:38:24

I wouldn't do this. I think having different children morning and pm would be difficult for him. Work with the school to ensure he settles well?

drspouse Wed 04-May-16 14:40:56

What do you mean having different children morning and afternoon? At nursery while the other children are doing their half days at school do you mean? Currently almost none of his nursery mates go full time so he's used to the other children coming and going mornings, afternoons, or full days depending on which day it is.

NynaevesSister Wed 04-May-16 14:47:03

You have the right to start him part time in nursery or defer his start he turns 5, or the summer term if he is born April to Aug.

This means that if you want to hold off starting until a few weeks into term it is your right as a parent to do so. As is sending him part time. Up until the day he turns 5.

So, you can decide what you want and tell the school. Look up the Admissions Code, Section 2, part 16.

Should you do this? I can't help you with that. I would suggest that you call the school and ask for a meeting with their SENCo and class teacher (if known) to talk about managing his transition to Reception. Take a recommendation with you from nursery. Be firm. Explain that you will not be doing the half Reception/half Nursery settling in as it is not in his best interest. You will be either delaying for a few weeks and sending full time or you will be sending him part time until he turns 5. This is not part of the discussion (and take a copy of the relevant part of the code with you just in case). The discussion is about how they can help you decide which of the two approaches works best for your son.

MiniMover Wed 04-May-16 14:52:06

Are you motives his anxiety or your childcare issues because if the former then school may be accommodating but if the latter then they obviously would not. Are you saying that after school on those weeks he'd need to return to nursery with his friends or that you'd just pick him up at 2pm? I couldn't work that out from your op, sorry. Tbh, school will argue quite strongly that those 2 or 3 wks are vital for relieving any anxiety the children may be feeling. They'll be shown regularly where the toilets are and all number of stuff like that. They'll get lots of practice at going to and from the hall and get to do a lovely picture on a name card for their tray. They'll get used to what happens at lunchtime; when to come, where to stand, where to sit etc.
I'd say avoid missing it if you can. As for the 4 day week, is there a specific reason you feel he needs this? Or is it just because you'd like to spend your day off with him? Nothing bad in that at all, he's still only little but it won't wash with school as a valid reason. Having said that, if he's summer born then I think the 2914 admission code says you have the right to apply for a delayed entry. Not sure about 4dsys from Sept though. Sorry. I'd call the school and gauge their opinion.

NynaevesSister Wed 04-May-16 14:53:18

Sorry I realised there I said when he turned 5. That is incorrect. It is when he reaches Compulsary School Age (CSA).

CSA is the term after he turns 5. However while a child born April to Aug doesn't reach CSA until the following September, they only have a guaranteed right to a Reception place if the start the PRECEEDING summet term.


Compulsory school age is set out in section 8 of the Education Act 1996 and the Education (Start of Compulsory School Age) Order 1998. A child reaches compulsory school age on the prescribed day following his or her fifth birthday (or on his or her fifth birthday if it falls on a prescribed day). The prescribed days are 31 December, 31 March and 31 August.

MiniMover Wed 04-May-16 14:55:42

Does the new code make it a statutory right to delay, NynaevesSister? I thought it made clear that parents had the right to petition the school for it rather than it being an automatic right. But I haven't read the document.

NynaevesSister Wed 04-May-16 14:56:31

MiniMover that's not accurate. All parents have the right to send their child part time until they reach compulsory school age and the school had to allow this.

Here's the relevant section of the Admissions code. It is quite clear:

b) the child’s parents can defer the date their child is admitted to the school until later in the school year but not beyond the point at which they reach compulsory school age and not beyond the beginning of the final term of the school year for which it was made; and
c) where the parents wish, children may attend part-time until later in the school year but not beyond the point at which they reach compulsory school age.

Twistedheartache Wed 04-May-16 14:57:21

I wouldn't tbh. Dd started reception last Sept after being in ft nursery from 10 months.
Although I was sceptical about the gradual build up it was really useful to build new routine, get used to having so many children around her, especially in playground after lunch. It was a week at a time transition too so not every day different.
Also they were all adapting together, whereas I think it would be hard if everyone else was comfortable with the routine & he wasn't.
I'm sure legally you can do it but I don't think it's a great idea.

MiniMover Wed 04-May-16 14:58:41

Yes, I've just read that bit but wasn't clear whether it was saying parents had a right to request it or an automatic right to receive it.

NynaevesSister Wed 04-May-16 14:59:21

Yes MiniMover the School Admissions Code 2014 quite clearly and unambiguously gives the right to defer starting or to go part time to the parents, not the school.

This is not to be confused with delaying a start in Reception for a summerborn until the following year. That is something parents can request but it is up to the Admissions authority for the school to grant.

NynaevesSister Wed 04-May-16 15:01:33

The words 'where the parents wish' make it clear and unambiguous that it is an automatic right of the parents.

MiniMover Wed 04-May-16 15:06:16

Ok, that's good for the op. I planned all 4 to be Autumn babies so it's not something I've come up against but in many cases the younger ones would benefit for a gentler inttoduction to school.
However, I think the op's son would miss out on a lot during those initial weeks esp if he was the only one.

drspouse Wed 04-May-16 15:09:43

Are you motives his anxiety or your childcare issues because if the former then school may be accommodating but if the latter then they obviously would not.

The former. I have some days AL I can use to pick him up at 12 (it seems to be 12 here not 2) for his part days, and if I don't have enough DH can do it or I can take unpaid.

If they actually had lunch on site and went home at 2, and didn't do a couple of weeks of mornings followed by a couple of weeks of afternoons (why?!) then I might just pick him up at 2. But it seems to be completely random and drag on forever. If it was 2pm, he wouldn't notice that was different except for the Y1/Y2 not crowding the entrance at home time.

I just don't see the point of part days. I see the point of teaching them all the practical stuff they need to know but why confuse them with coming home at lunchtime, then later, then going IN at lunchtime? It's not some children for half the day and others for the rest either. All the schools here seem to do a week or two of very short mornings (some do the two days at the start of September plus a week, some do two full weeks) then a week or two of afternoons then some do extra weeks of short days.

Both schools that we may go to have a separate Reception playground, but the entrance is shared with other years. Neither of them bring half the children in for mornings, half afternoons - for both of them it's all in for mornings followed by all afternoons.

I do know we have the right to do part time school until he's compulsory school age (he's a Spring birthday so that will be April). The reasoning behind that would be that he gets very tired and isn't used to being in an educational setting 5 days a week and I know school is more tiring than nursery (even when children are in nursery 5 days they seem to find this) so a term or a little more of 4 days could help with this. I'm not completely convinced this will be the right thing for him (and TBH for DC2 who is nursery age and also needs some one to one time).

MiniMover Wed 04-May-16 15:19:52

Sorry, that sounded more aggressive than intended, I was just trying to understand where you were coming from.
It seems the new code does give you the right and if you think 4 days are best then request it but I'm still not sure missing those weeks would help him settle and may even make him more anxious when he does start as everyone else will seem to know what they're suppose to do (as much as 4yr olds ever do)

drspouse Wed 04-May-16 15:25:56

He rarely seems bothered that he's doing something different to everyone else (he is a bit of an individualist to put it mildly!) but he displays anxiety every day over whether there is a change in routine, pickup time, etc.

Maybe we should just tell school he's staying from 9 till after lunch every day (I know this is also our right, and as I say he would not notice if it was 2pm or 3.15 pm). He is used to staying late on his own/with DC2/one or two others at nursery, and he quite likes the extra attention.

NynaevesSister Wed 04-May-16 15:28:29

I'd be inclined to do as the others suggest and start him with everyone else.

From your first post it sounds like as long as he knows exactly what he is doing that day he is fine.

My son was the same and what really helped with his anxiety was using a timerable that had little pictures on it. Each day was a different colour. We used it in the holidays when there was a lack of usual routine. But you could try something similar for his settling in days.

Do see if you can meet with the school. Their SENCo may have something similar or cue cards that can help reduce his anxiety each day.

MiniMover Wed 04-May-16 15:50:11

A lot of good Reception classes have visual timetables. These can really help younger children grasp what is happening when. This has the added bonus of helping to soothe anxiety esp change anxiety.

tdm1 Wed 04-May-16 15:51:09

I agree with Mynaeves re a visual timetable. You can make one at home with days of the week and pictures representing different activities / places / meals etc to help him think ahead to what's happening. Most important for him is knowing when you're going to pick him up (after lunch etc). Separation is hard and a new environment is hard, so I think starting him with the rest of the children in a gradual way is important, and then gauge how he's managing. You can always negotiate earlier pickups / less time at school if he's struggling - and you'll get more help with this if he's there and both you and he are engaging with the teacher. Whatever you imagine it will be like may not be how it turns out. My son was exhausted in reception, which his teacher was fully aware of, and she supported my decision to take him out earlier in the day. However, he objected strenuously as he didn't want to leave his friends!

drspouse Wed 04-May-16 15:54:33

as long as he knows exactly what he is doing that day he is fine

He really isn't. He asks about five times the night before what's happening the next day, and about five times in the morning, and again when I drop him. If it's a different day (even if it's been explained several times e.g. we are picking him up early for an appointment, or he went to the late session yesterday and is going again today) he is really difficult to manage. He specialises in hitting and kicking, and throwing heavy objects.

As he has little sense of time, it doesn't really help him to know that A will happen after B because he just keeps asking whether it's time for A now, as soon as B finishes, and keeps on and on and on asking. He knows the order of everything at nursery, and at home, but it doesn't seem to help, and visual timetables aren't going to help him know how long it is - you can only really get the length of time something takes from either being able to tell time, or doing it lots of times the same.

Why on earth do they have to do this anyway? Surely if children are better with routine you want to start with a routine and stick to it, not chop and change?

drspouse Wed 04-May-16 15:58:26

Though I do agree it is most important for him to know when I'm going to pick him up - why on earth can't they just make it the same every day?

That's what I'm trying to achieve. We try to do this at nursery but it doesn't always work, but deliberately making it different over the first few weeks at school seems perverse.

LaughingHyena Wed 04-May-16 16:16:27

The first few weeks were really hard here, our school do a week of mornings, then afternoons etc building up to adding in lunch then a full day. Sounds like your school do a similar system.

On the plus side it was a lot quieter in the classroom as they only have half the class for each session, so the teachers were much more able to settle the children. But the constant changing of routine was hard going.

Have you spoken to the school, I know there were a couple of children in DSs class who stayed full time after the first couple of days. We also talked about doing just mornings for the first few weeks so his routine was the same. For a few reasons we didn't go that route.

It was all learning the routine though, from where to hang your coat to how the teacher got the classes attention, I think they would miss out on quite a bit by starting later.

drspouse Wed 04-May-16 16:23:40

Ours seem to have the whole (60, in both schools it's a flexible space with 2 teacher and 2 TAs) class there for the whole session. It would make more sense if it was half the children.

We don't know which school it is yet (this is from last year's settling weeks as I have several friends with DC at both schools). But when we do, I will ask what they recommend.

NynaevesSister Wed 04-May-16 16:34:28

The visual timetable does help. I can't explain why. But the pictures do seem to give them a better grasp of the order of things. maybe try putting in as much detail as you can, including getting up, breakfast, getting dressed, screen time, time to brush teeth etc. You've plenty of time to give it a go and see if it works.

Otherwise follow your instincts and really don't get too worked up yourself. It seems absolutely huge now but it will be something he barely remembers eventually.

My son went in every day screaming, crying, and being peeled off me in Reception. For eight weeks. He also had huge problems settling in to lunch and I ended up going in for two weeks and having lunch with him.

He is now year six and those experiences had absolutely no lasting effect on him.

Me on the other hand ... Still a little traumatised!

Twistedheartache Wed 04-May-16 16:51:06

Ours did all 60 doing the same thing.
Week 1 was til 11ish
Week 2 was til just before lunch
Week 3 was til after lunch & playtime
Week 4 was full days.

If i'd not been on maternity leave it would have been a real pita but it really worked well.
I wouldn't make any decisions yet - they change so much in the last few months before school anyway. I would imagine nursery will spend the next few months preparing him & there will be school visits too between now & July.
Have an idea but don't be too rigid is my recommendation

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