Today’s modern families seem to be incapable of steering clear of the constant bombardment of information, all conflicting, on child rearing including when and when not to send a child to school. This most certainly applies to children whose birthdays fall between February and July. Children are eligible to start the next school year if their birthday is between 1 August and 31st July. By law, all children must be enrolled in school by their sixth birthday.
When I was young, you went to school if your birthday was before the cut off date. I don’t believe there were any conversations around whether or not to hold a child back from starting school if they were of the legal age. Children went to school, simple as that. In all my classes from kindergarten to finishing I’m not aware of any class mates being more than 6 months older as me given my birthday is in January. I had several good friends whose birthdays were in May and June and there is no evidence they suffered as a result. On the contrary they are doing very well in their chosen careers.
When my daughter started school in 1986, it still wasn’t a topic of discussion and my daughter’s birthday is in April which is considered, by today’s standards, as on the fringe. My sons birthday’s were in March and January so I didn’t give it a second thought. Looking back, if I kept my daughter from starting in the year she turned 5, all I would have achieved was to have a bored little girl who would have ended up starting and finishing school one year later. So nothing would have been gained.
I can’t help but feel that today’s parents take on board too much conflicting and confusing information from so-called-experts who want to inflict their ideas onto parents. You have child psychologists, pre-school teachers, other parents and grand parents all sprouting their opinions by whatever media is available to them such as TV, radio, magazines, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and books.
I had one book giving me the run down on what to expect from conception to when the baby turns two years. I knew the book was flawed from the beginning as my baby wasn’t following the book verbatim. So I figured is was time to take control and work it out myself. And my first piece of advice to my daughter when she was pregnant with her first baby, my first grandchild, and who bought every damn baby book available – “don’t overload yourself with too much bullshit sprouted in the books or the internet or TV”. “Follow your instincts and don’t under any circumstances let the baby rule the roost”. For the most part she follows this simple advice but every now and then I have to remind her not to listen to others because it will only screw with her capability to make important decision for her children.
As I mentioned earlier, when it came to sending my kids to school I didn’t ask anyone for advice because it just wasn’t an issue. However, today it’s an issue and I’m exposed to this through my daughter whose daughter (my grand daughter) is eligible to go to school next year and until now the topic of when she’s going wasn’t up for discussion – she’s of school age and she’s going, simple as that. But as the start of school is looming for my granddaughter it’s becoming apparent that many children of a similar age are being held back. On the most part I haven’t heard a valid reason other than what they’ve heard or been told by others.
And here lies the issue – too many opinions, and on the most part not backed up by any supporting evidence. This bombardment of information is taking away the responsibility of parents to make decisions based on the their knowledge and understanding of their own children. With all the hype going on around this topic, even my daughter has questioned, for a moment, her decision to send her daughter to school next year given her birthday is in May.
I can’t help but wonder, if there are concerns in sending children to school before they turn five and there was enough supporting evidence to prove sending them was detrimental to their long term development, wouldn’t the school age be increased?
Holding children back from starting school will have the negative affect at the end of their schooling life because many child turning eighteen in year twelve have two things, possible three, on their minds – getting drunk, getting laid and getting high! And there isn’t a thing a parent can do to stop their eighteen year old, who technically is an adult, from doing all three.
So before you make one of the most important decisions on behalf of your child, ask yourself one important question foregoing all that ‘others’ have said: is your child intellectually ready for school? And what good, if any, will come from holding them back?
Simple questions with simple answers.