The summer holidays are drawing to a close, everyone is out buying school shoes and uniforms and parents are getting ready to bid their babies goodbye for six hours a day as they head off into school. For some I have no doubt September is a welcome time after a long, hot and exhausting 6 weeks holiday, but I do wonder if they are anxious about the coming weeks and their little ones either heading back to or starting school for the first time.
It is after all a big deal for child and parent. Watching as your children head off without you gaining another bit of their independence from you. It is not however as clear cut as it once was. Currently children do not have to of to school until they are 5, however those who start school at five have to go into year 1 and not reception. Although they are starting school a year later they have effectively missed a year of school and are a year behind their class mates. It is however looking likely that it will become possible for parents of summer babies i.e. those born between the 1st April-31st August not to be forced into year 1, rather reception, should they start school at age 5.**
Both my children are summer babies. My daughter was due at the very end of August. She came at the very beginning so she will be the youngest in her year. She will just be 4 as she edges through those school gates when her time comes. Admittedly she is only two so we have two years to go yet. Before she was born I remember wanting her to go over her due date. I wanted her to be born in September because I wanted her to be the oldest in the year. I am a September baby and I liked being the oldest.
I wanted a September baby so she would be old enough to cope with starting school, the work, the other children to my mind there is a big difference between a four year old and a five year old. My Grandma however sang a different tune. She was very much in the August baby camp. ‘You’ll be glad of it when the time comes’ ‘They catch up’ They’re better in school anyway, they will just be bored at home’ she would repeat every time we had the conversation. She wasn’t the only one with that thought process. I remember having a conversation with another relative who said ‘Oh I was throwing him over the gates when he started school after five years’.
I can see both sides of the coin. Both my children will be almost a whole year younger than some of their counter parts. I am told I was able to read by time I started school, but lets face it thats because I was older. Developmentally there will be a big difference between the August babies and the September babies. I feel for my babies going off to big school and not being on same page as some of the others. Will they be too young or immature to deal with and cope with the school days? Are we asking too much of them?
That being said, I know a fair few teachers who have all said whilst the difference is notable at the start of their schooling career by time they have progressed to primary school it is negligible. Further the teachers are of course aware of the age gap and are trained to accommodate. There are of course those who at 4 will be ready and another year at home, wouldn’t be the answer as they would indeed be bored, as dear old Granny said. I do also wonder if it is better for the child, will the teacher and the school environment be more stimulation than the days I could offer them at home?
I think a large part of the decision will come down to the individual child. Judging by the child my two year old is now, I cannot, at this moment in time, foresee how keeping her home an extra year will be of any benefit to her (or me!). She is busy, into everything and always on the go. She loves being sociable and kept busy. I do not think I would be able to stimulate her in the way she would require come her 4th year. I also think she will flourish in the school environment.
My boy however, the jury is still out. He has only just turned one so it is certainly too early to tell. His development to date has been a little slow, which has been put down to his prematurity. Accounting for his prematurity should be a thing of the past by time he approaches his fourth birthday, so in theory he should be ‘the same’ as any other 4 year old. If he were to have to go into school into year 1, I doubt I would keep him home an extra year. If however is able to start a year later but go into reception and I felt he wasn’t ready or that he needed the extra time at home, would I keep him home or at pre-school? Its hard and I can honestly say I am unsure. I think it would take a lot for me to think he should stay home an extra year but if he really needed it then its nice to know I have the option.
What about you? What do you think? Do you have a summer baby? Would you, or have you delayed starting school until they were five? If so was it the right choice? I would love to hear from you. #whatwouldyoudo?
**Information taken from a paper published by the Department for Education, September 15.