Monday, September 15, 2014

School system rants - holding back younger kids

So let's talk about school for a bit.

In South Africa, kids go to Grade 1 in the year they turn 7.

Let's not talk about whether that is late or not... I know in the UK they're very early and their kids go to school when they're 4. I'm not sure if that's our Grade R (one year before Grade 1) or something else. Anyone?

Here's my thing - kids turning 7 in Jan and Feb are all in the same grade as kids turning 7 in Oct, Nov and Dec.

My kids are 5 months younger than my one friend's kids (more if you count the prematurity - by the way, when is that no longer a worry?) and I can SEE the difference between them.

It was never a problem in the early years with the crawling and walking because everyone knows babies develop at different rates, BUT at school, they're on par because of that "everyone born in 2009 thing".


And have you all read Malcolm Gladwell's book? I think it's Outliers that talks about how there is research that shows kids born in the first half of the academic year (I think the study was Canadian) always do much better than those born in the second half.

Now, do you want your kids disadvantaged?

Neither do I.

The interesting thing is that only ONE child is going to be kept back that I know of. The rest of them are all going to Grade R (and Grade 1 at the technically correct time).

Let me tell you his story.

This child is born in October. To my mind he is super bright and very well mannered (which scores extra points with me!) but he is physically small like my kids.

They are sending him to a private school and at the interviews or whatever, they mentioned to his mother that if he needs help due to his "youth", they have occupational and other therapists, etc.

She then decided that he will do Grade R at the pre-school, and then redo Grade R at the private school so he's a step ahead.

Honestly, that seems sensible to me.

I don't know what I think of lumping all the kids together though.

Do kids just have to "get on with it" and accept their limitations?

I went to school a year early (in my day we went to school at 6, and I went at 5) and I think they should have kept me with my real age! I excelled academically which is why my parents wanted me to go to school but I think I could have done with an extra year of growing up first.

Of course it's only now, at 40, that I feel super chuffed because all my school friends are actually 41 :) :)

I know Rebecca (Unexplained) held back M & H so although they're a year older than our 2009 kids, they're all going to school at the same time, now for the US kids. (So basically you guys are 4 months ahead of us!)

What do you all think? Talk to me!


  1. I was kept back myself. As an ex grade one teacher you can really see the difference between the kids born earlier in the year. Especially those in Dec should have been kept back but I didn't always have the power to make that decision.

  2. I also went early at 5.

    I am all for kids starting the year they must. I have one kid who did Gr R twice so he could be ready and one who they said was ready so started early - you know how well that turned out for us :-/ So Jack and Emma will start when they are supposed regardless of what teachers may say!

    David has read that book :)

  3. Both my kids have been kept back. It's done them a world of good.

  4. N is a Dec baby, so obviously this is something that I've obsessed about from time to time. If she wasn't ready I would hold her back. Luckily she seems perfectly.up to speed so we're going to see how it goes in GrR next year.

  5. I also went early at 5, but I do think I was ready for it. I am only just starting to research schools etc for Kade but I think he would technically fall into the "first half" of the year group being a 3rd of June child, so I would send him when he is "supposed" to go I think. Interesting to see the comments here so I can be educated a bit on the schooling system in my own country ;-)

  6. Well you know my feelings on this...Liam is currently in Grade R and doing well. However, he has only turned 5 in Feb this year.. which means according to our school system, he should only be in Grade RR so that he will fall into the 6 turning 7 group in Grade 1. Personally, I think he would have done well in Grade 1 next year. Academically at least. But lots of people said that emotionally, I should give him that extra year and allow him to proceed with kids who will ALL be 6 turning 7 in Grade 1 and if anything, I'd just be giving him the edge if I let him repeat Grade R. I still have my doubts.. repeating Grade R will surely be boring for him, no? However, I took everyone's opinion into consideration because they had BEEN there with their kids.. also the one thing that stood out for me was that he would not compete on the sports field with his class mates, because while they would all be under 7's, he'd still be under 6's.. also, he'll be starting at a new school next year, for his second year of Grade R so I'm hoping the different environment, structure and curriculum will at least keep him busy :)

  7. Well I think you know I have very fixed opinions in this - mostly, whats right for a child is what's right for them personally. A was school ready a year before and being and early January baby we could have sent her to school. The our pediatrician said asked us why do we want our child to be the youngest in the class when there is so much pressure? She kept her December baby back (a bright child) because of that. I have never been sorry we sent A on the right year and not ahead. She has a definite edge - that being said, the academic top achiever in their grade for the last tow years is an August baby. A has a friend that is a December baby that the parents (and advocate and dentist) dis exactly the same with and have done for her younger sister that's an October baby. With L it was a saving grace to keep him back . His neurologist stated that he doubts that boys born September onwards are usually ready for school. For C keeping him back would have been a disaster.

    At our school they look with particular care at September onwards kids for school readiness and call is a Psychologist to test if needed. Mostly kids are kept back in grade R because honestly that is the best time to make that decision. Last year they kept back 4 kids - or advised the parents to - a December girl and 3 boys that are September on.

  8. All I can say is that i am thankful that I am no longer in the position to worry about these things...I see how my children struggle and I don't ever want to go through that again.

  9. This came up as a topic of conversation at a work offsite this weekend funny enough. The people who brought it up are all around the age of 25 and they don't even have kids yet they had seriously strong opinions about it. To be quite honest, I hadn't even given it a thought before that conversation. Ethan is a December and Riley (yay! name chosen, baby not even born yet!!) will be born roughly a week after him so both our kids will have late birthdays so I guess I need to start giving this thing some thought. Also, with Ethan having started creche now, I'm seriously starting to think about grade R/pre-school. So yeah, I don't have an opinion but good food for thought especially everybody else's comments :-)

  10. My Mom once explained to me that it's not personal and that it has absolutely nothing to do with how clever or not clever your kids are. It’s all about emotional maturity. The kids who are not emotionally ready are the ones who cry at a drop of a hat OR they are extremely playful. One year really can make a HUGE difference in a kids life. Sometimes they appear to be emotionally mature. This is all a farce! Nowadays the sh*t hits the fan in GRADE 4 and this is where you can really see the difference between the kids and the babies. And the expectations are raised ALL THE TIME so it's better to just err on the side of caution. This kind of thing is honestly not a big deal to me. In fact, I may keep Joel back another year if I need to – he's just turned 7!

  11. Our boys started Kindergarten the end of August (sounds like your grade R), they turned 5 in May, so that means if they go to Grade 1 next year, they will be 6 years and a few months. I'm curious to see where they are at the end of Kindergarten. Right now, they are very verbal with a huge vocabulary and emotionally mature; however, I'm aware that both of them need to work on their fine motor skills. Liam is getting better at writing his letters, but Tommy's not there yet. Considering they will be working on writing all year, I'm curious to see how that matures.

  12. My current struggle is with my twins- Dylan is so ready to go and Ryan, not so much. Do I send them now, hope Ryan matures? I don't want to send one and not the other. I also don't want one to hold the other back. Ugh.


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