School readiness is a hot topic right about now. Everywhere we seem to go people are talking about it...kindy, the library, play dates, even people I dont even know at the supermarket have spoken to me about it.
We made the decision early on to send Little B to school when he is 6. This was for a variety of reasons not least that Mr B & I were young ones during our final years of school (in my case, seriously younger). This had quite dramatic repercussions for Mr B in the form of being badly bullied and also my younger brother struggled at school because he wasnt ready for the sit down, be quiet aspect of school at 5.
We also based our decision on discussions with preschool teachers, research overseas, after seeing talks about school readiness by Kathy Walker and also on reflection that due to a trend in Victoria to send boys later, if Little B did go at 5 he would be a year younger than 60% of the boys in his class. But ultimately, I believe that Little B deserves another year of freedom to grow, play, learn at his own pace, jiggle, wiggle and mature. So that he is socially mature enough for the playground.
The response to this from friends has been quite dramatic. Approximately half support our decision (either simply from friendship or because they agree with us). The other half are almost aggressively opposed. My closest friend believes quite strongly that I'm doing the wrong thing - she believes we are limiting his educational prospects. Others say that I am selfish and part of the problem of older kids in prep.
The response from acquaintances, strangers, teachers, work colleagues has been amazingly supportive. I've lost track of the number of women who have told me they wish their sons or brothers had been given a chance to start later, had that extra chance to mature and develop before the pressure of the school system began.
But ultimately it's a family decision that you need to base on your child. Little B is a highly sociable child but he is not socially mature. He would get lost in a school playground in a heartbeat as he can be quite shy with other children. He loves to ask questions and his thirst for knowledge is amazing but in our opinion he is not ready for the grind of a school classroom.
I found the interest in my choice quite confronting at the start and felt bombarded and even a bit defensive. Even though we had thought through this decision more than any other decision in our lives so far. But now I've made peace with the interest, and so I leave you with this poem which sums up how I feel completely...
I Took His Hand and Followed
by Mrs. Roy L. Peifer
My dishes went unwashed today,
I didn't make the bed,
I took his hand and followed
Where his eager footsteps led.
Oh yes, we went adventuring,
My little son and I...
Exploring all the great outdoors
Beneath the summer sky
We waded in a crystal stream,
We wandered through a wood...
My kitchen wasn't swept today
But life was gay and good.
We found a cool, sun-dappled glade
And now my small son knows
How Mother Bunny hides her nest,
Where jack-in-the-pulpit grows.
We watched a robin feed her young,
We climbed a sunlit hill...
Saw cloud-sheep scamper through the sky,
We plucked a daffodil.
That my house was neglected,
That I didn't brush the stairs,
In twenty years, no one on earth
Will know, or even care.
But that I've helped my little boy
To noble manhood grow,
In twenty years, the whole wide world
May look and see and know.
Some really great reading on the subject:
- Ready, set, go? How to tell if your child's ready for school and prepare them for the best start by Kathy Walker
- Nicole at Planning With Kids gives a great view on her personal experience with school readiness and how it differs between children
- Study Shows Birth Dates, School Enrolment Dates affect ADHD Diagnosis Rates -
- Raising boys is all about time by Michale Grose
- What is the best age to send your child to school?