How I handled the great 'when should my child start school' dilemma
Thanks to the school cut-off date, eight days would make the difference between my daughter being among the youngest in her year group at school, or comfortably among the older kids.
If she had come eight days later, I wouldn’t have had to think about sending her to school early or waiting a year. The decision would be out of my hands — as it was with my first daughter who had been born in July.
Your child might be academically ready. But would they benefit from another year?Credit:Stocksy
No such luck. My daughter popped out on schedule. Consequently, I’ve spent more hours than I care to think about having conversations about school readiness and starting dates.
I approached these conversations with an open mind, listening attentively to parents who sent their child to school as soon as the child was able.
Some parents were adamant that sending their child to school early was the right decision because delaying another year would have meant a bored and potentially disruptive child.
Other parents said that their child had struggled being the youngest in the class and if they had their time over again they would have chosen differently.
One of my friends was so convinced she’d made the wrong choice by starting her son early that she changed schools after the first year so he could repeat.
But then there were the friends at university who were younger than the rest of us, but seemed to get absolutely brilliant marks and as adults are thriving both personally and professionally. Other than having to sneak into the uni bar underage, starting school seemed to have had no effect on their academic performance whatsoever.
I also quizzed everyone I met who had delayed their child’s start date. These parents were just as emphatic about their decision. And just as divided.
Some talked about how easy their child’s transition to school had been because they had waited a year. Others worried that schooling was coming too easily for their child and that they were not sufficiently challenged. They worried that this would dent their child’s ability to develop a work ethic.
There was also the not insignificant issue of money.
Given the cost of childcare, delaying school an extra year comes at a significant financial cost. I wondered that instead of shelling out another 20 grand on childcare, my kids would be better off if I put the money in a term deposit for a future home loan. Or maybe we could just go on holiday that would be culturally and educationally beneficial.
With a spinning head, I turned to the experts. At kindergarten, my daughter was given a school readiness test by a maternal and child health nurse. She was asked to complete a series of tasks to determine her academic and cognitive performance, language development, and physical development.
My daughter aced the test. The results were clear cut, and for a fleeting moment I thought I’d found my answer to whether my daughter should go to school next year or delay another year.
And then came the follow-up call from the maternal and child health nurse.
Even though the test found my daughter to be school-ready, the maternal and child nurse suggested that I consider keeping my daughter at home another year. The nurse had observed my daughter performing the test and noted that my daughter made it quite clear — in ways that only a three year old can — that she’d rather be playing outside instead of sitting down doing a test. Being academically ready is not the same as being emotionally ready.
After all that, I have decided that my daughter will not be starting school next year.
The reasons for delaying turned out to have nothing to do with school readiness, but rather about life in general. We spend a long time being adults. Giving my daughter one more year of childhood is a precious gift.
Source: Read Full Article