I read the news earlier in the week. The UK government have agreed to allow parents of children born between April and August to keep their kids back from starting in Reception year of Infant School until they turn five. I didn’t think too much more about it until a friend with an August born child (EJ is late July) asked if I was considering taking the government up on this offer.
It seems like she is very seriously considering doing so and she gave a lot of reasons why it would be a good thing to do including her research that summer born children who start school at just turned four have more trouble getting to grips with learning and are not necessarily physically able to get through such structured days at such a young age.
We all know the statistics about the UK being one of the only countries to start children in formal school life at such a tender age and the general consensus that this not a good thing. The only thing is I have got used to the idea that despite a nearly three year age gap between my boys, the fact that they will only be two school years apart will make them closer experientially, throughout childhood.
I did feel a bit shocked a couple of months back when I realised that my little dummy-sucking, muzzy-nuzzling toddler (now pre-schooler) will be starting at big school next year and the applications process kicks off any minute – that felt weird after the extra year out with a September born older child – but to be honest, I was mostly OK with it until I talked to my sister – a Teaching Assistant in a primary school herself so right on the frontline – and she urged me to seriously consider taking the government up on their offer.
However looking into this I read that although studies have shown that summer born children tend to fall behind a bit educationally, further studies have found that there is no marked difference in the careers and achievements of adults who were born either summer or autumn.
Also, for a lot of working parents the beginning of formal, week-long school education equals a huge reduction in childcare fees and that has to play into our decision too. I realise that the government has promised 30 hours of free childcare for all but I’ve also read that this may not be implemented until September 2017 so that puts us in the unhappy position of being the year that misses out on the luxury of simply choosing free childcare over free school-based care.
On the other hand we may be looking at a long school career filled with expensive tutoring on the side if our child is constantly struggling to keep up with children who were ‘ready’ from the off.
And the targets – oh the targets! Up from a 60 to 65% pass rate for Year 2 children in the past year and apparently up to an 85% pass rate by 2017 so no pressure there then!
What a minefield.
Ideally it would be lovely if the government could just realise that this tough target driven approach is all wrong at such a young age and learn to see the wood for the trees.
I never had to think about this at all with JJ so this whole decision is making my head spin.
Do you have a child in a similar position? Are you planning on deferring? Or do you have an older summer born child and if so how do you feel they have coped and would you have made this decision if you had the choice when they were starting school? I would love to hear from others what they are planning to do.