Last week I discussed School Starting Age – Latest Research On Australian Children. There are some fantastic contributions in the comments that I would highly recommend you read, if you are contemplating what age your child should start school.
In this post I will share our personal experiences on the issue of school starting age, looking at each of our five children. I will state firstly that I don’t believe that there is one answer to the question What Age Should My Child Start School? My advice to parents looking for an answer to this question is as follows:
- Each child is different and decisions need to be made on the personality and circumstances of each child (eg. what might be good for their best friend, or sister, may not be good for them).
- Take advice from your child’s preschool teacher, they will be able to give you invaluable insight to your child’s cognitive, social and emotional development.
- Remember that education is not a race.
Thinker – 27th November
Thinker had a Montessori Preschool education for two years. I loved the Montessori approach of following the lead of the child and Thinker relished the practical life opportunities it provided. He started school when he was 5 years and 2 months and settled straight into school life, loving it instantly. He was the second youngest in his class, yet for him this hasn’t made any difference.
Little Rascal – 20th April
I couldn’t tell you how many hours I agonised over what to do about school entry for Little Rascal. Cut off for entry to school in Victoria is 30th April, so if I was to send him to school the year that he turned 5, he would be very young. I had undertaken some serious research and my husband and I also discussed our own school experiences. We were both “young” starters in our school careers. We decided that given the personality of our gorgeous second child, that he would benefit from starting school when he was older. A significant factor in this decision was actually not to do with the early years of school, but the later years in secondary school. Mr I and myself hit puberty on the later end of the scale and thought there would be a good chance that Little Rascal would be the same. This, combined with being one of the youngest kids in class, we felt wouldn’t produce the best educational or social outcomes for him.
So Little Rascal started 3 year old kinder when he was 3 years and 9 months and entered school when he was 5 years and 9 months. Watching Little Rascal develop in the last 6 months of his last preschool year, we knew that we had made the right decision for him. He settled smoothly into school life and coped beautifully with the social demands that school placed on him.
Possum – 10th December
By the time it came to making a decision about Possum’s school entry age, I had been in the school system for nearly 5 years. In this time I had seen:
- Girls with Feb, March birthdays start school at four and thrive.
- A Girl with a Dec birthday only lasted one term at school and go back to kinder (her kinder teacher had recommend that she stay at school for another year).
- Girls and Boys with Feb and March birthdays who were only just coping at school.
- Boys with Dec birthdays start school when they were 6 and thrive.
- Girls and Boys with March, April birthdays, who started school early, then repeat a year of school when they changed schools at Grade 5.
My conclusion from this was that it didn’t really matter what other kids did, I needed to look at Possum, listen to her teacher and make a decision that I felt comfortable with. Possum went to school at 5 years and 1 month and she had a wonderful year at school. She is the youngest in her class and she did get very tired at the end of the terms. In term one, on a number of occasions I offered her a day off, to recharge and only once did she accept this – she didn’t want to miss out on school! On the week ends sometimes, she would actually take herself off for a sleep, but sending her to school was certainly the right decision, she flourished both socially and academically.
Babaganouski – 30th April
Babaganouski was due date was 25th April and when I was pregnant with him, the socialist in me hoped that I might go over and have a May Day baby. Not only would this suit my red side, it would have also solved the issue of when to send him to school!!! In the end, this head strong baby pipped me by 35 minutes! He was born at 11.25pm on 30th April.
As we watched this beautiful little baby grow into a toddler, we needed to decide when he should start kinder and therefore when he would start school. We looked at his personality and the positive experience that we had with our second child starting later, so it is this year when he is 3 years and 9 months, that Babaganouski will start 3 year old kinder. He will start school when he is 5 years and 9 months and be one of the older children of the class.
Baby – 22nd January
Too early to tell really!!! However we will enroll him for 3 year old kinder the year that he turns 3 and make a decision year by year from there.
Entry age into school in Australia currently sits within a range from 4.5 – 6 years old. This range allows parents the flexibility to make a decision which will provide the best outcome for their child. As a parent I have made decisions with the hope that the result will be my children settling into school in a positive and enjoyable way – so far so good 🙂 .