My little boy thinks he’s a baby T-rex. But should I still send him to school?
My little boy won’t eat anything that’s green, can’t sit still for more than three minutes, and boils into an limb-flinging rage if his sister touches his toys.
But I should totally send him to school, right?
It’s that time of year. Crunch time. He’ll be four, turning five in the middle of next year. Technically, he COULD go to school in January.
It would save us a lot of money. Six years of children in child-care has left us in a muddle of debt. So kissing goodbye to the last of the preschool bills and everyone going back to five days of work would be lovely.
But… he thinks he’s a baby T-rex.
This is the kind of tussle that goes on in houses all over the country at school submission time. And it goes on, especially, in houses of people with boy children.
The word travels like wildfire around playgrounds and preschools: "Boys do better if you hold them back."
"Boys aren't like girls. They mature slower. They're not as resilient."
All of this oozes into the parental ear like so much tainted honey. If we're privileged enough to have a choice about when our child can start school, we trash our advantage with a fretful anxiety.
So do I look at my son and think he's a baby because he's a boy? Or because, as my youngest, he is my baby? Or because he really, actually, cognitively is still a baby? Who knows what the hell I think.
In case you missed it, girls are being told to lengthen their skirts at a New Zealand school. Post continues after video...
The whispers persist:
'Louise is starting Tigger next year, but he won't be four til June. Is she crazy? He's going to have such a hard time...'
'Annabel's holding Jim-Bob back another year. Can you imagine? He's going to be a foot taller than the other kids! He'll be so left out!'
'I've heard that if you start them early, some high schools won't take them...'
'Just start 'em, and if they don't do so well, they can repeat! What's the harm?'
'It's just not fair that Xarer has to compete with kids almost 18 months older than her! Who are these people who can keep their kids at home?'
And so on. And so on. Just another time in your brief small-child-focused years where the weight of the decision you're about to make seems impossibly heavy. When in reality, we probably know what's the right thing for our kid.
My daughter started school young-ish. She wasn't quite five.
But she was ready. She was jumping-out-of-her skin ready. I don't mean academically. She couldn't reliably write her name and she certainly couldn't read. But MAN, was she ready to throw herself into school. A sociable creature who thrives worships a positive authority figure, she could not wait. And she hasn't looked back. She's happy. I never considered, even for a moment, that I might not pack her off to kindy and cross $450 a week off the family budget.
But my boy? Well, I might have mentioned, he still thinks he's a T-rex.
This is the point at which people start telling you about Finland. Across the world, opinions about when kids start school vary wildly.
In Britain it's five, but not at all uncommon to be four. In other European countries, like France, Germany, Greece and Spain, it's six. In Finland, which allegedly has the world's finest education system, it's seven. In most of Asia, including China, it's six.
What do you do with all that information? What do you do with the differences in starting ages between the Australian states? What do we make of the fact that in New Zealand, many kids just start on their fifth birthday, whenever that is?
It's bamboozling. It's stressful, and the answer's all yours.
Well, actually, it's my son's. And he still thinks he's a baby T-rex. So I think he'll be stomping and roaring around his preschool for another year yet.
What did you do?
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