To Delay or Not Delay School – That is the Question

Sometimes in life it might be better NOT have a choice about something.

Sometimes trying to make a choice can prove too stressful.

This week has been pretty stressful for me.

It’s a week I’ve been dreading for a long time… My twins have started school…

I’ve dreaded it for a number of reasons, the first of which is that I will miss them desperately. They are my last children of four and I’ve been a stay at home mum for the majority of the time. I’ve pretty much always had a small child with me for nearly 15 years.

It’s a huge deal. A new chapter.

But that’s not the main reason. I’ve been worrying about the noticeable differences between my twins and their fellow classmates since they started nursery back in January. That, as well as the difficulties with separation from me and settling in.

I’ve talked about it all at length in some previous blog posts. You can read them here.

It’s this whole Summer Born Baby‘ situation… I had no idea about it really before I found myself to be a parent of a summer born baby (or babies in this case!). I’m guessing that unless you ARE a parent of a summer born child this is something you might not be aware of either!

It’s the research that backs up what is, probably, obvious if you were to think about it comprehensively, that summer born children tend do less well at school than their older classmates, especially August born children. There is cold hard fact from research that shows children born in the summer months are more likely to be unhappy at school, be bullied, struggle with school work, won’t do as well at GCSE’s, A levels (that’s if they get that far) and then are less likely to go to a high end university.

I’ve read all of this research intently because my little, identical twin boys just didn’t seem ready at all to go to school. They are practically a whole year younger than some of their classmates and this could have a huge impact on their confidence simply because they are not mature enough. They haven’t had as much TIME to mature as some of the others in their class.

If you imagine a linear graph measuring how well a child does at school according to age, with the highest point corresponding to a September child for example, it would slowly angle down month by month to the lowest, being an August born.

I know a lot of parents with late summer children will say their child did ok at school, excelled even, but the facts are this is not the norm. Some kids close the gap on their older classmates academically (they never truly catch up) over time but is this the best we should expect? Should MY little boys simply ‘get by’ in the hope they just do ok?!!!

This very recent article in the telegraph is interesting…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10302249/Start-schooling-later-than-age-five-say-experts.html

It’s not just about their date of birth though in my case. On top of that there are added obstacles for my twins which would take that imaginary line down even further. These are:

  • My twins are TWINS and this in itself means that with the whole shared development aspect, they will have developed at a slower pace than a singleton child.
  • They were 5 weeks PREMATURE, and if you take this date as their birthday which one should when measuring their milestones and abilities, it makes them even younger. Had they been born at the right time, at the end of September, they would be going to school NEXT year and not this.
  • They are BOYS, who notoriously mature slower than girls.
  • They are painfully shy, which is quite crippling in itself and a huge obstacle to overcome before they can even start to feel comfortable enough to learn. Plus they are very clingy.

The problem I have is that I feel as though we have been swept along within the confines of the system, applying for a place at school and then starting, even though I knew in my mind that they might not be ready. I didn’t know I had options available to me. And now I’m worried that it’s too late to start changing anything.

I wish I’d known much earlier that we, as parents, have options.

I’ve only known about ‘delaying’ school since I started looking into all of this at the beginning of this year but I kept thinking, and being told on a regular basis by their teachers at nursery, that my boys ‘will be fine’.

The guidelines on delaying were always a bit confusing to me.

Basically, if you delay school for a year, the child would automatically go into year 1. This is what most local authorities insist on, they don’t like admitting children to a class out of their normal age group. But going straight into year 1 is not an idea many parents are keen on. Missing that vital reception year of transition and learning through play is not ideal.

There has been a lot of campaigning recently about this and the truth is that local authorities ARE allowed to place a child out of their year group if it’s in the childs best interests. The campaigning has resulted in the local authorities being challenged and having to prove that it is indeed beneficial for a child to start in year 1 having missed out on that very crucial ‘Reception’ year…. they would find this hard to prove.

I know I have a good case to challenge my local authority.

I called them and they insisted I start my twins as planned last week and see how it goes. I wasn’t really happy about this but I went along with it. The lady I spoke to said I would have a stronger case if I at least gave it a go.

My boys screamed their heads off on their first day. Didn’t want to go the next. But on Friday were reasonably ok. I don’t know if this is because they were happy or because they felt resigned to it.

They don’t really want to go but if I waited until next year would they be any different?

They may not WANT to go next year either but at least they will be stronger, more confident, more able. They will have a much better chance of getting to grips with whatever tasks they are given to do.

But then again, who’s to say they will be less able now than some of their fellow peers? Who’s to say some of the older children won’t have learning difficulties and therefore fall behind where my twins are academically?

I’ve heard that shy, quiet children can sometimes progress quicker as they are not the ones shouting out and playing around, they are sitting quietly, listening.

Maybe being with slightly more able children will encourage mine to try harder and challenge themselves, this could be a positive thing?

Maybe after a few weeks of being at school they will absolutely love it?

What if my boys realise later on that I kept them back because they weren’t ready and feel stupid, or worse be ridiculed?

What if they go into Reception next year with children much younger but are academically very advanced, therefore leaving my twins feeling even more inadequate?

These are all scenarios I’ve got rattling around in my head right now. I’m so bloody confused.

Deep down in my heart I feel that they would benefit from another year to give them time to mature but I’m afraid of having a battle with my local authority. I’m worried that if I pull them out of school and they don’t get a place next year it will leave us all devastated.

I need to make up my mind. And soon. But trying to make a decision is killing me!

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Comments

  1. It is a hard one. My son is August born and will start school next year.
    Personally for me,although he will be young, i don’t want to delay his start or for him to go part time as i feel that may affect him socially which in turn could make the transition ever more difficult.
    You just have to do what you think is best for your boys though.

    • Mummy Endeavours says:

      Thanks, I think it boils down to THEM and to me they don’t seem ready at all. Quite baby like at times. I will keep them going half day for now x

  2. Mine’s late July and smallest in size for her class year. People think she hasn’t started school – She’s in year 2! But she is so so so very big inside that she makes up for being the youngest and tiniest. Let your twins find their way and remember, you have the power to strengthen them! X

    • Mummy Endeavours says:

      Ah that’s greats great, glad your little girl is doing well!! My boys could surprise us too I guess… Only time will tell!! X

  3. I would start them and take it slowly, they’ll probably surprise you.
    I am the opposite to you, my daughter is a September baby and starts school next year, by which time she’ll be almost 5 and massive!!
    My other children are December and January babies.
    Good Luck in whatever you decide.

  4. I was an August baby and going on my due date should have been in the year below, but I thrived at school and ended up graduating at 20 (because of where my birthday fell) from a top Uni. My son is an August baby too and I am worried because although I was ready for school, I know every child is so unique. I think I will be sending him as soon as he turns 4 but he is a very confident child (and bigger than some 3 year olds we know despite having just turned 2) and I already think it will be right for him. You can only do what you think is best, and I am sure whatever you decide, you will do your best to give the twins the best possible start.

    • Mummy Endeavours says:

      Thank you. If my boys were confident I probably wouldn’t even be thinking or worrying about it but because they’re so shy and vulnerable it just makes things much worse. To be the youngest ad smallest for a boy mustn’t be very nice!! I know they’ll settle etc but equally I know they’ll settle better and easier next year. Xx

  5. very interesting, our little chap was born in September, so this is something that we will be thinking about soon.

  6. Nikki Hunter-Pike says:

    I was a late summer child and obviously my mum wasnt given the option to delay starting school, it never really affected me however if i was to ever have a summer child i think it’s really important to look at the individual and i would delay them starting school if i felt that was the right decision for my child. I’m actually thinking of going down the home school route now for my eldest daughter which gives me even more freedom with her education!

    • Mummy Endeavours says:

      I’ve thought about home-schooling my kids on so many occasions. I’d love to, but I wonder if I could be enough for them. I’d worry they weren’t learning as much as they needed to! Life with children is short though, so I’m rather envious of mums who home-school and get to be with their kids 24/7. I’d love that! x

  7. Thank you for a lovely blog

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