school

"Am I wrong to send my son to school?"

This mother could do with a bit of advice.

My son is starting school next week, and I’m feeling worried.

He’s four-years-old, and will turn five in a few months’ time. He’s just old enough, legally, to start school. In fact, I could wait and let him start next year. I know a lot of parents would.

I’ve read articles recently saying that more and more people in NSW are holding their kids back a year so that they can be “bigger, stronger and smarter” than their classmates. Apparently, some countries where kids start school later, like Finland, do better in literacy and numeracy tests. On top of that, some experts have warned against kids starting school before they turn five because they often end up falling behind their classmates. In fact, there’s talk of making five-and-a-half the standard starting age across Australia.

Is four-and-a-half too young to start school?

In a lot of ways, I feel like my son is ready to start school. He loves books and is a curious little boy, full of questions about the world and keen to learn. He's friendly and outgoing and gets along well with other kids. I'm sure he'd enjoy school.

But he's small for a four-year-old. If this whole "bigger and stronger" thing is an issue, then he's never going to win, even if I hold him back a year. Do things really get that physical in the schoolyard?

I finished Year 12 when I was 16, just about to turn 17. I can remember what it felt like being in Year 12.  I couldn't wait to get out of school. I remember thinking that my real life would begin once I could toss that uniform in the bin and start doing what I really wanted to do. It was such a fantastic feeling to walk out of the school gates for the last time.

I guess I still have that feeling in the back of my mind. I want my kids to be able to start their real life as soon as possible.

I know other parents feel differently. I've heard some say that they want their kids to turn 18 in their final year of school, so they can legally drink when they go to schoolies. Personally, I hate the thought of my kids going to schoolies at all.

So my son's going to be one of the shortest kids in his class. Does that matter?

A lot of advice seems to suggest it's an individual decision. It's up to the parents to decide if their child is ready to start school. But how do parents make that decision?

I'd love to hear what other parents have done.

Did you start your children as soon as they were old enough, or hold them back a year? Either way, how have they coped?

Want more? Try:

"It's the part of getting my kids ready to go back to school that I dread the most."

The realities of your kids going to "big" school.

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