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Reception, at age 4, please explain to an American

(81 Posts)
PITA5000 Fri 05-Aug-16 23:38:09


We have just moved to London from the US, we have 2 daughters age 4 and 6. We are in the process of seaking a flat in order to determine what school our 6 year old will attend. In the states children begin school in kindergarten at age 5, so had we stayed in the US my 4 year old would have stayed home with me this year. (Admittedly, many Americans send their young children to preschools or pre-kindergarten, but these cost money and we have not been in a position to pay tuition even if we had wanted to).

Would it be very, very, very, odd if I chose not to send her this year, as it has never been a part of our plan? I feel like I'm losing out on a year of her childhood that I had been counting on spending with her. I will of course be educating her at home so that she does not enter school with a deficit of knowledge. Do other Americans do similarly? Do any locals?

Thanks for your advice

404NotFound Sat 06-Aug-16 00:01:06

Reception is essentially play-based, a small step up from nursery.

The problem you may have if you don't send her to Reception, is that popular schools will fill up and won't necessarily have a place available for Y1. Also, friendships will be made, so she will miss out on a year's worth of socialisation within her peer group.

Ofc if you can find a school that will help you get round that, then there's no reason to assume it will cause long-term problems. But certainly in the mainstream UK system (rather than international schools, or maybe some private schools) it would be an unusual choice, so you would be going out on a limb a bit.

pleasethankyouthankyouplease Sat 06-Aug-16 00:05:29

Not odd. Find s school that will take her into reception at 5 . Enjoy your year together x

JellyMouldJnr Sat 06-Aug-16 00:09:28

ha easier said than done pleasethankyou! It's not odd but I would speak to the school about it.

rollonthesummer Sat 06-Aug-16 00:14:28

You might struggle to get a place as the places at popular schools would all be filled.

Friendship groups will also have been formed which could be an issue.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Sat 06-Aug-16 00:16:30

No school will take her into Reception at 4. They might take her into Year One at 5.

I sympathise (also American) but I fell in with the school system here - in my experience there's not the same leeway/rule bending as in many other countries so I doubt you'll be able to write up your own plan. I'd prepare myself to send her.

The good aspect is that the play-based Reception curriculum is very good.

School hours are very long though sad

ijustwannadance Sat 06-Aug-16 00:16:35

Technically she doesn't have to start until the term after her 5th birthday but you still need her to have a place available at a school.
As pp said, reception feeds year 1 so you may not get a place if you wait. Having an older child at a school is no guarantee of the younger one getting in next year.

Also, most school places are filled by April for the September so you need to get on waiting lists asap.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Sat 06-Aug-16 00:16:56

Sorry first sentence should read No a choo will take her into Reception at 5.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Sat 06-Aug-16 00:17:05

No school!!

MachiKoro Sat 06-Aug-16 00:18:47

Which month does she turn 5?

Sootica Sat 06-Aug-16 00:19:04

When is her birthday? It's now I think possible to delay summer born children to start reception at age 5 but i understand it varies from area as to how easy it is to do

Dripdrop Sat 06-Aug-16 00:22:22

holdme that's not true, especially with the new summer born stuff.
I'm a reception teacher and I have a five year old coming into my class in September and know of quite a few. It does depend on the area though. Some are more open than others.

annandale Sat 06-Aug-16 00:22:38

Look for a school that holds out against the constant pressure to have children visibly doing things that look school-like, and makes it happen with play. That's what we used to have in this country and it was great. Really not sure if it still exists like it used to, hope others will reassure me.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 06-Aug-16 00:24:51

No school will take her into Reception at 4

This is simply not true. Children join reception in the academic year in which they turn 5. So with the exception of children who turn 5 on the first day of reception, all children who start reception are age 4.

Of course you can keep them at home for reception year and apply for an in-year place for year 1. But they may not have a space.

The rules have changed slightly around children delaying starting school but afaik it's not simply a case of keeping them at home then putting them into reception age 5.

StrumpersPlunkett Sat 06-Aug-16 00:29:47

If you plan for her to be here for year 1 I would suggest you get her into reception
It is a lovely very gentle introduction to school very much about the route of school Andy basic academic stuff.
Unfortunately year 1 has become v learning based and if she goes from home into year 1 it will be a bigger change for her. If you know what I mean.

mrz Sat 06-Aug-16 07:44:44

It's usual for children in England to start school in September following their fourth birthday but they don't need to be in full time education until the term after their fifth birthday. Reception is part of the early years foundation stage (birth to five) and as others have said is play based. The prime learning areas are speaking and communicating /physical development/ developing socially and emotionally (not academic subjects although most children will learn to read, write and basic maths during this time.

prh47bridge Sat 06-Aug-16 10:09:22

The first thing you need to do is get a place for your youngest. Once you've achieved that you can defer entry until the start of term after her fifth birthday. You can also choose to have her attend part time until the start of term after her fifth birthday. These are your choices, not the school's. But she must, by law, start full time education no later than the start of term following her fifth birthday.

You can only delay a full year if your daughter was born between 1st April and 31st August you can defer entry for a full year. However, the school (or the LA depending on the type of school) has the final say as to whether or not your daughter can go into Reception at that time. If they refuse she will have to go into Y1 so, due to the laws around class sizes, etc., she is likely to end up at an unpopular school.

PITA5000 Sat 06-Aug-16 14:55:39

Hi, OP here,
She turned 4 in June.

So, what I am gathering is that many children do go into school at age 5, not having attended a nursery school?

This may be for another thread, but we do not have a lease yet and plan on older daughter attending a state school. My understanding is that until we have an address secured, we can not apply to state school. I realize, most families have that squared away much earlier in the year, it was simply not possible for us to be here that early.

Once we have a flat, should I then apply for both girls? But with the understanding that the younger one will start after she turns 5. Will a place be held for her until next fall?

Thanks for helping me sort this out as it is very different than what I am familiar with.

SuburbanRhonda Sat 06-Aug-16 15:11:57

I'm glad prh47bridge has posted because she knows a lot about these things.

I wasn't aware that the law had changed so much that a child can now start reception in September once they are already 5, so that's interesting to know. I thought if they did that they'd have to go straight into year 1.

Hope it all works out for you OP.

mrz Sat 06-Aug-16 15:22:08

"*So, what I am gathering is that many children do go into school at age 5, not having attended a nursery school?*"

It's very unusual for children to start school without some kind of pre school /nursery experience, most children will start reception the September following their 5th birthday although parents of summer born children do have the right to request that they start in reception the September after their 5th birthday. Schools and LEAs must consider each case but there is no guarantee the request will be granted.

Bobochic Sat 06-Aug-16 15:29:47

Do not underestimate how bored and lonely your reception-aged non-schooled child may be. I live in France where all DC start school in the September of the calendar year in which they turn 3. My November born DD started school aged 2.10. It felt young to me - it was young - but it was the only way for her and me to have friends and a social life as all DC her age were at school.

EnquiringMingeWantsToKnow Sat 06-Aug-16 15:37:14

I think that was a typo from Mrz. Should have been "Most children will start reception the September after their 4th birthday."

With a June baby you can ask to defer and have her start in reception one year later but it will be very rare and you may not be successful. As ph47 suggests you may be better off getting her a place in her normal chronological year group but deferring her start, or going part time, until her 5th birthday. That risks her being behind, but since it sounds like you're prepared to do a bit of well informed and committed home education you should be OK.

ijustwannadance Sat 06-Aug-16 15:42:11

Most children in Britain can attend half day nursery age 3-4. Very few defer starting reception at 4. The most likely think if you defer us that she will have to start year 1 at 5.
As her birthday is june they will not hold a place unless she starts after xmas or easter and not every school will allow this.
She cannot start in june for only a few weeks. No school will keep a space open all year 'just in case'. Not with people fighting for places.

You can't do anything without an address. If it was me I would suck it up and get both girls in the same school asap. If you try next year to get youngest into year 1 they might not have space as reception moves up so places alteady filled.
My DD has just finished reception year and had a lovely time and made friends. It just play based learning.

Wigeon Sat 06-Aug-16 15:52:12

Just to say that in my experience, every single child I have ever known starts school in September, in Reception, aged 4 (turning 5 in that academic year). I have two DC who are in primary school. So although you do have various rights (as set out in this thread - prh47bridge is especially knowledgeable / accurate about the rules), you may find that you are in a very small minority.

That doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't do what's best for you /your child, but in the area I live (just next to London, within the M25 motorway around London), but you might find it quite hard. The school my DC go to would have been very reluctant indeed to agree to any kind of variation on "start Reception in September when your child is 4". Not saying that's right, just that that's my experience.

lljkk Sat 06-Aug-16 16:04:26

many children do go into school at age 5

Not many, maybe some, but it's still fairly unusual.

Will a place be held for her until next fall?

ha! ok, maybe fine if it's a private school. Else it's pot luck what you'll be offered. The kids are 4yo for at least half of reception yr (on average) so the environment is set up for 4-5yos.

I am American. Like most people I was happy to send them off at 4yo so I could use school as childcare. Maybe some schools still offer half days to start.

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