My child was born in winter – when should it start school? – The Press & Magazine | Team Cansler

Parenting is full of choices. And parents of children born in winter have to make an additional and crucial decision.

Those with children born in December, January and February face the dilemma of when to start their children’s school.

Should they start school at the age of four as one of the youngest in their class?

Or should they wait a year to give them more time to mature and develop?

How do you decide if your child is ready for school?

If your child’s birthday falls between the day after the first day of school in August and the last day of February, Scottish Government recommendations state that your child will normally start school in August of the year before their fifth birthday.

However, if your child is still four years old on the day they normally start primary school, you have the right to postpone the start of school.

Subsidized childcare for children who start school later

From August 1, 2023, all children who postpone their school entry are automatically entitled to an additional year of Funded Early Childhood Education and Care (ELC). This also includes children who are postponing the 2023/24 school year.

The law change came under pressure from the grassroots campaign Give Them Time.

While it will soon be easier to give winter kids an extra year before they start school, parents still have a choice to make.

As a parent, how do you make the right decision for your child?

Emma Niwa from Wick has two children born in Winter.

Jessica, 7, was born in December and Harvey, 10, was born in February. Both postponed their start at Newton Park School until they were five years old.

Emma Niwa from Wick with Jessica (born December) and Harvey (born February).

“It’s an extremely difficult decision to make as a parent,” Emma said.

“You’re just looking at how your child is doing on the spot, but you have to think ahead about how they’re going to do in school for years to come. Would they benefit most from being the oldest in the class? Or do they get restless if they stay an extra year in kindergarten?

“I made my decision based on the advice I received, reading psychology reports online and then as her mother what I thought was best for her.

“I didn’t want them to be the youngest in their class and then that would affect secondary school. Things like being young when taking exams, how they would deal with peer pressure as the youngest and how that would affect them both socially and academically.

“As her mother, I felt like I would beat myself up forever if any of those things went wrong. But if I gave them the extra year to grow and develop it would hopefully help with all of those factors.

“Ultimately, you must do what you think is best for your child.”

Parents know best

Julie Jones is Lecturer in Childcare at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) in Inverness.

In her opinion, a good place to start is to block out the noise surrounding a potentially sensitive subject.

“For parents making that decision, they know their child,” she said.

“They know what is right for them and they don’t have to listen to outside influences. That’s the most important.

“If you’re trying to just focus on your child and not let what you’re thinking affect you should do, then you are doing the right thing.”

“Don’t listen to outside influences,” says Inverness-based lecturer Julie Jones.

She believes parents shouldn’t feel guilty about delaying their children’s start to school and not remembering that their children are being “held back”.

“Parents sometimes think, ‘Am I holding them back for developmental reasons?’

“But four-year-olds should play and enjoy life.

“Their body isn’t made for sitting, their bones aren’t made for writing, until they’re about six or seven years old. And emotionally, starting school at such a young age can be overwhelming.

“We have one of the earliest starting ages in Europe. Scotland has children starting school at four, while the average school entry age in Europe is six.”

Only 12% of children worldwide start school before the age of six

The SNP backed plans to raise the school entry age in Scotland to six at its October conference.

We asked readers in August what they thought about raising the age of enrollment to six. An overwhelming majority of you (77%) supported plans to raise the age to six.

A recent study in the US showed that only 12% of children worldwide start school before the age of 6.

But given the current system, what should parents of winter children consider before deciding when their child will start the school trip?

Things to consider for your child

When your child starts school, it can have repercussions later in childhood.

Thinking about moving your child’s P1 record? Here are some things to consider, according to Parent Club, the Scottish Government’s parenting advice service.

  • If you’re concerned about “school readiness,” remember that it’s not the child’s job to be “school ready,” it’s the school’s job to be “kid ready.”
  • What does the school think about postponing your child’s start of school? What support could you offer your child if you choose not to procrastinate?
  • What feedback has your child’s ELC attitude given you? You can ask for an interview to get advice from the day care center or childminder.
  • If you choose to delay your child’s start of school, what support and challenge will they receive from the ELC facility?
  • Think about what procrastination means when your child is older, for example when they are 12 or 16 and perhaps one of the youngest or one of the oldest in their class.
  • Understand what this means for acquiring qualifications. Postponing school entry could mean leaving school at 16 with no qualifications.

“When children are emotionally secure, they are ready to learn”

Dorothea Scherer is a lecturer at the School of Education at the University of Aberdeen.

She thinks what matters is that the child feels emotionally safe enough for school.

For some children this is the case at the age of four, others benefit from it when they are a little older when they start school.

“Some kids are just emotionally unready and socially unready to go to school. I think that’s really the main factor.

“It’s not so much about a child’s cognitive abilities. It’s more about how they learned to interact socially. This is the main thing to consider when deciding when to send your child to school. When children are emotionally secure, they can learn.

“I’m not necessarily against children starting school at four.

“There is evidence that certain children benefit from starting school earlier. You may find it helpful to get challenges and social interaction. So you have to weigh that up.”

“Parents are a child’s first educators”

She added: “My first step would be to make my own judgment about your child.

“The second would be to ask for advice. Ask early childhood professionals how they perceive your child in this environment. How do they get along with other children in their environment? How is their emotional and social development in kindergarten?”

She agrees with Julie that parents must make their own decision based on their own knowledge of their child.

“Actually, the parents should make the decision,” says Dorothea.

“At the end of the day, parents are their child’s first educators and they know their child best.”

More real parenting dilemmas

Do I use Grandma and Grandpa for “free childcare”?

Seasonal Affective Disorder: How to take care of others when you’re having a hard time taking care of yourself

Parenting Problems In Real Life: Is It Possible To Have A Good Work-Life Balance?

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