Friday, 17 July 2015

School Days, Past, Present and Future!

As it's almost the end of the school year I've decided to do a kind of round-up post of how school has gone for us so far.



Past

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.

Present

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. 

Future

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. 




The Reading Residence

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27 comments:

  1. Your children really have had a bit of a journey with school. I'm glad I read this as Little E is a summer baby and I have started to think will she be ready to start school just 8 weeks after she turns 4. Only time will tell but it's been nice to read about your experience x

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    1. I've been lucky as I've never had a child that has cried to go into school, I really do feel for the parents that have to have their little ones torn away from them in the playground. I think you know if your child is ready for school though, and mine were right from the start. x

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  2. My son is born in June. A lot of his classmates are way older and theres about 5-6 of them who was born in June and onwards. I have reservations too for him to start primary school before as his bestfriends are still in preschool.

    He is doing well but if its up to me I would have want him to start primary school this September rather than last year.

    #wotw

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    1. I think it's also a lot harder if it's your first or only child and they are younger x

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  3. Its hard for my daughter she is 5 but was born 10 weeks early and feel people expect way too much from her.

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    1. My daughter was early too but only a few weeks, but she is also very tall for her age and especially in the early years they did expect her to be much more mature than she was. It is sad when they expect to much, most teachers will listen if you express concern. X

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  4. I have a summer born baby too (31 August!) and he is average amongst his classmates in terms of learning. He may be the youngest but he's certainly not behind at school.

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    1. It really does depend on the child and for many Starting them early works out ok. I'm glad your son I is doing ok :)

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  5. I also have a summer babies my eldest was just a week over 4 when she started primary school,she is now at high school and doing really well. I do think about some of her peers almost being a whole school year older than her but she is doing so well.

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    1. There are times, more so in the early years, when you see the whole class together and your child just looks like a baby in comparison. It does improve as they get older though and the age difference seems to matter less if they are coping with the work, they tend to advance in their maturity to match their class mates. I'm glad your daughter is doing well :)

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    2. There are times, more so in the early years, when you see the whole class together and your child just looks like a baby in comparison. It does improve as they get older though and the age difference seems to matter less if they are coping with the work, they tend to advance in their maturity to match their class mates. I'm glad your daughter is doing well :)

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  6. I totally understand you have to weigh your options carefully. I struggled in school and went to three different elementary schools and two different secondary schools. School changes are hard even if the school your kids are currently in isn't ideal.

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    1. I know what you mean, it breaks my heart that they couldn't stay at their old school which was really nice. I am truly hoping that this school gets it's act together so I don't have to move them again.

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  7. It's hard knowing what to do for the best with them isn't it. All I'd say is to follow your gut feeling - you know what's best for them x

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    1. yes, thank heaven for parent instinct. We have to trust our gut feelings when we can't see which way to go.

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  8. School can be such a confusing and hard time, so many choices to be made. x

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    1. I know! and the kids think they've got it tough x

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  9. Both of my children were born in November so when they have started school has never been an issue for me. My daughter has got some very nasty girls in her year but I tell her just to walk away from them. I fear things will get worse at secondary school!

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    1. I was born in November, it's a good time age wise, not the oldest or the youngest of the class. There are always the nasty children though and that's a worry. My children are not the type to rise to bullying, but they get upset sometimes.

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  10. I have June and August babies and they have all done brilliantly at school. I think people forget that Reception is play-based learning just like Nursery so it is not a huge jump

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    1. I think it's more the social side of joining reception class than the learning, although if your child has an active social life then they'll probably fit right in no matter what year they join.

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  11. Star sounds like such a resilient little girl and I am sure her sibling will follow in her footsteps in that respect.

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    1. Thank you, I think I'm lucky that my children cope really well in most situations :)

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  12. I think the age gap becomes less significant as they get older. My youngest is a summer baby and at 4, nearly a years age gap is a quarter of their life. When they are sixteen it has reduced to a much smaller gap. I certainly would always advocate that parent knows best, no matter how old their child is.

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    1. That's an interesting way of thinking about Jen, yes a year is a quarter of a four year old's life! And age gaps do feel a lot less as you get older...if I'd met my current partner at school, well, he'd be in year 1 while I was in year 11..yikes!

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  13. I have worked as a sub teacher on and off for 8 years now and I do tend to agree with the idea that children born in the summer are less mature and probably less ready for school at 4! This does not mean to say that they do not catch up but the hard start can leave an imprint, in my opinion and from my experience.xx

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    1. The research has shown this to be the case, but a lot of summer born children still do well, we have to stay positive for them xx

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