It seems like yesterday when Star was starting nursery. It's always an emotional time letting them go. The school backed on to our garden and you could hear the children at playtime. I would sit in the garden listening for her voice I missed her so much. I still had Boo at home though, a very content little girl who was incredibly easy to look after.
When Boo started nursery I'd just given birth to the Little Man, literally! There's no easier way to make friends in the playground that taking your newborn with you on the school run. Boo and Star both loved those early days at school. I was getting used to them being away, especially with a newborn to look after.
All to soon it was the Little Man's turn to start. Yes, it was very soon, he was only two years old and the health visitor had suggested I started him for two days a week at a pre-school because he was behind in his development. He was only just starting to walk when he started and had a vocabulary of just one or two words. I'm sure he would have caught up at home but he loved being with the other children at pre-school and he blossomed. By the end of the term he was on par with all his peers in his development.
Then we moved house and everything changed.
Boo and Star started a new school and it was a little hard for them at first, particularly for Star who was having problems with her neck by then.
The Little Man started his new nursery and settled in fine, but then halfway through the year the teacher left and they had to get used to a new one. That's very unsettling for three year olds.
Eventually, because of her health Star stopped going to school and was taught by the hospital teachers, first in hospital and then at home.
Boo, started a new year and found a teacher that she really liked and suddenly blossomed. She had always been a little slower than the other children but this teacher worked wonders with her and now she has caught up, if not exceeded her peers.
The Little Man started reception class and it's been a little mixed. He's definitely bright, despite his slow start in life he is now a quick learner and his reading and writing is amazing for a four year old. His teacher is very fond of him, it's hard not to like him because he is very cute and says the cutest things...but...he's also incredibly mischievous and always getting into trouble. He's not a bully and never picks on the other children, but he does naughty things like put things down the toilet that he's not supposed to, and paint things he's not supposed to. He very much reminds me of my eldest son who was always in trouble at school. Maybe it's a boy thing?
Star finally went back to school in January this year and although it may have been a bit of a bumpy ride she seems to be doing okay. It's a shame that the school has been a bit of a shambles, even since January she's had three different teachers. I know that sometimes these things can't be helped but that school does have a lot of teachers leave.
After much debating we have decided to leave the children in their current school. It's certainly not the best school in the area but if we did move them it would be difficult to find all three of them places in the same school. We are most worried about Star, but she really doesn't want to move, she has just one more year left in the school anyway. Then Boo, sometimes she's happy, sometimes she's not. She has progressed so well educationally since being there (Which is quite a surprise) but often has trouble with the other children who can be quite nasty and Boo is a very gently person. She says she doesn't want to move but if things do not improve next year she may be persuaded once her sister has gone.
The Little Man will be spending the most time at the school. I know they are trying to improve the school and hopefully they will do. I've seen improvements since my children started but they still have a long way to go. I do not want my Little Man turning out like some of the older kids at the school which I fear may happen if I leave him there and nothing changes. So, like Boo, I'm giving him one more year and then considering changing again.
Then we are faced with choosing Star's Secondary School which opens up a whole new kettle of fish. I've already tried to get her into a local Autism School but they turned her down. I will keep trying to find her someone suitable, but at the moment she has her heart set on going to the local secondary school, which is not much better than their primary school. I've been in this situation before so I know what to avoid and what to do if it all turns out wrong for her. I would like her to stay in mainstream for now, but with her medical conditions on top of her autism it may not always be possible.
A Little Word on Being Ready for School
All three of my children are summer babies. Star was born at the end of August, The Little Man, early August and Boo, late July. I had reservations when Star was about to start school and I put my feelers out over the internet. The response I had was incredibly positive, it seemed that very little people had experience of problems with August born children starting school straight after turning four. It's now five years later, and even though Star has autism and has medical issues she is still not struggling with her school work. She's not the brightest in the class, but she's not in Special Needs either, the only time she has had any extra help at school it has been because of her autism, OT, and physical disabilites, PT. Then, Boo was just four years and five weeks old when she started school and she did struggle a little at first, but soon caught up to her peers. Changing schools made a big difference to her and she has come on so much since doing so. She's never had any extra help in school. The Little Man has just left reception class and I was actually advised to put him into the school system early because he was considered a slow learner. Being with other children has helped him grow and he doesn't need any extra help and is actually showing signs of being the brightest of my three children at school. So, in my honest opinion, I do believe that summer babies are not at a disadvantage when starting school at just turning four years old.
However, research has shown that these children are having difficulties and many end up in Special Needs or needing extra help. So the School Admissions Policy is being reviewed to make some changed for these children.
Currently, if you hold back a summer born baby from starting school at four years old, when they start at school they go straight into year 1, missing out reception class. I believe this instantly puts them at a disadvantage. Parents would choose to delay their child because they are not ready, but then they have the extra pressure of catching up on a year, I can see how they fall behind their peers in these cases.
So, under the current system you have a mixture of immature children starting school and children being held back for a year finding themselves starting at a later level. It's hardly surprising then that a survey has shown that these children are not doing so well as the others.
I really do believe it's down to the individual child, but I've seen reports of so many summer born babies thrive by starting school in reception class at just turning four years old.
If a parent really thinks their child is not ready then I agree, they should be allowed to start a year later in reception class, otherwise what is the point?
All the children will be sixteen by September of year of leaving school, so what is the problem?
For me, the only problem is the way this has been portrayed, it just adds extra concern and worry to parents of summer born babies.