I’ve popped up on Babyology’s The Parent Panel podcast talking about holding kids back at school, mothers-in-law, doing your kids’ homework and what I do when the kids yell. Yeah, just hanging out with Shev and Kochie, as you do.
You can listen to the podcast here:
Let’s talk a bit more about holding kids back at school
We are in NSW and the ‘cut off’ for kids is a very random 31 July. So, technically, kids can start school if they turn five before 31 July. It’s considered ‘holding back’ if you don’t send the four year old. However, at the other end of the age range, you simply need to start school before you turn six.
Which means that a a kid turning six on 30 January, can start school on 1 February along with a kid who is still four. There can be up to 18 months difference in age, if not more.
This is definitely true for my youngest, Lottie. She is 10 and in Year 6. She turns 11 in June. One of her besties turned 12 in December last year.
This helps: 21+ things to know about starting high school
Why we didn’t hold her back
It’s fair to say that as we stare down the barrel of high school starting next year (when the bestie will start at 13 and Lottie will be 11, and not 12 for six months), we regret starting her ‘early’.
There’s a combination of reasons why Lottie started young. It wasn’t something that we deliberately chose. Max is a May birthday and he started the year he turned six. We would have done the same for Lottie, but that’s not how life turned out at the time.
Briefly it was a combination of:
• Her preschool teachers telling us that she was 100% ready to go.
• Our eldest two being only one year apart at high school and our thought that a three year gap for Lottie would leave her left out of the sibling gang.
• A planned family move to the UK, where all kids start formal schooling at four.
It was the last point that was the decider. With a move to the UK on the cards, we wanted to start Lottie’s formal schooling at the same time as her UK peers. As it turned out, we didn’t make the move to London, so there we were. With a four year old in Kindergarten, loving herself sick.
Other times I’ve been on The Parent Panel:
Questioning her age every year
When we made the decision to start Max at five, rather than four, it was an easy decision, done and dusted. We’ve never once given it another thought.
Sending Lottie at four, however, is something we’ve questioned every single year of her schooling. That’s not fair on Lottie, of course. Every kid struggles here and there at school (and Lottie has probably struggled far less than most), but not every kid has parents thinking “it’s because she’s so young”.
Now she is in her last at primary, the age-gap seems bigger than ever. High school suddenly seems like a very big place for an 11-year-old.
Age gap seems bigger than ever
Is being young a convenient excuse? Perhaps. But now she is in her last at primary, the age-gap seems bigger than ever. High school suddenly seems like a very big place for an 11-year-old.
Of course, there will be heaps of other 11-year-olds tackling their first day at high school too. There will also be 13-year-olds, who I can’t help but feel will be more ready than my daughter. I get that kids mature at different ages. I know she’s a mature kid for her age. But she’d be an even more mature kid at 12-turning-13, and wouldn’t that be great?
Don’t hesitate to hold back
Bottom line is, I wouldn’t hesitate to hold kids back at school if I was deliberating about it. I remember when we were explaining our reasons for starting Max at five, I said to a friend, “You don’t want a 14-year-old boy making a 16-year-old’s decisions.”
When it comes to holding kids back at school, this is where I’d be directing my thoughts. Way, way into the future.
I think I nailed it with that statement. Whatever your kid’s academic success, emotional maturity, social fit – the reality is, you don’t want a 14-year-old making a 16-year-old’s decisions. And you really don’t want a 16-year-old making an 18-year-old’s decisions.
When it comes to holding kids back at school, this is where I’d be directing my thoughts. Way, way into the future. Not to how my kid appears at four-years-old. They might be ready for school at four, but will they be ready for high-school at 11? Ready for final-year exams at 16? Ready for university at 17?high
She’ll be fine, of course
Whatever happens, I’m confident that Lottie has the smarts and charisma to conquer whatever high school sends her way. She’s also got a family that loves her to bits and two siblings watching over her like a hawk. She’s got this.
But that still doesn’t stop me from second-guessing our decision to send our big kid off to big school at the age of four. I really wish we’d thought of it as sending our little kid off to even bigger school at the tiny age of 11.
Listen to the podcast (Kochie is hilarious) and let me know your thoughts on holding kids back at school.