View Full Version : Start school at age 5 or 6 - gifted boy?
My ds is gifted in language & maths, already reading probably half way through prep level despite only starting kindergarten (we're in Victoria) a few weeks ago.
He will turn 5 in mid-January next year and I had planned for him to start prep a few weeks later. In Victoria the cutoff is April 1st, so he will be one of the younger boys, but not the youngest. Socially & emotionally to me he seems fine this year with settling into his kindergarten beautifully and seemingly making heaps of new & close friends. He's not toilet trained at night, but has been dry for daytime for 8 months.
I'm concerned that he'll struggle at school as his language, maths, spatial ability, etc is so advanced & that he'll get bored. But if he wasn't advanced I would have considered starting him at age 6, but as he is gifted I had planned to start him at age 5.
So the problem is that my mum (a retired kindergarten teacher) started telling me today that she thinks we should keep him back til he's 6 as she's not 100% sure that he is socially/emotionally ready - but what she is really concerned about is that he'll be one of the younger boys in his grade and that he'll struggle once he gets to high school with those social/emotional issues - eg. starting Year 12 at age 17. She went so far to talk to his kinder teacher about it today when she picked him up (not happy that mum did that, but she doesn't usually interfere so she must feel strongly about it) and the teacher said it was too early to tell and she'd decide by mid-year if he was ready for prep next year or not.
I want to send him at age 5, but if his teacher suggests waiting a year we will wait. BUT is he's already so advanced won't starting him later make that all so much worse?
Sorry for the ramble.
From everyone I have ever spoken too, social/emotional is the main indicator to go by. Being in a social situation before they are ready to handle it, can actually set them back in their emotional development, and also actually cause problems in self-confidence later in life too. I had friends at school that were june babies and started the year they turned 5, they never really caught up to the rest of our friends emotionally, and I know my niece (may baby) also feels she had to kinda grow up too fast and lots of things were really hard for her.
That being said, it is still REALLY early days. I found my DD1 (march baby) developed alot in terms of social skills a few months before she turned 5, and then the month she turned 5, it was like a light switch suddenly was turned on. It was amazing. So despite him not appearing to be ready now, in 10months time - it might be a very different story.
The other thing to consider is that if he was born a month earlier - you would HAVE to send him to school next year, so there will be kids that are only just older than him, and perhaps closer to him socially/emotionally.
I'm planning tentatively to keep my March baby back but since he is only just three I'll wait until next year to see.
If I were you I would wait until half way through kinder to decide. The kinder teacher can help guide you with the decision. Prep is a social/emotional year, not focused soley on the academic, so don't be surprised if your Childs learning plateaus during the year. The school will be able to help with your decision but only based on what you tell them. The kinder teacher is your best reference point.
Oh, should mention that I've taught prep in Vic. (on Mummy leave) If you have any questions just ask.
I think you do need to wait - come September, say, you should have a better idea as to how happy he is socially in his kinder group, and his kinder teacher should have a better feel for how emotionally and socially ready he is for prep.
Frankly, if he's already ahead on maths etc, the year is not going to be an academic one for him, and the intellectual' component won't be a factor for him. He'll be learning to sit at a desk, the routines of the classroom, how to solve problems in the playground, how to BE at school basically.
Taking the skills he's already got forward will take a back seat to those other things and the teacher's job is going to be to find him OTHER things that do make him want to come to school, whether it be art, or storytime, or whatever. But the question you have to ask yourself is wouldn't he just have to go through the same process the following year?
Sometimes I'm a bit dubious about the 'social and emotional' maturity argument because I think its a way of saying 'we want kids to conform to x and never mind what their individual learning styles and personalities say about it.'
No one would suggest the 3 year old boys who come into my school's classroom are more ready than your boy would be; the difference is that no one is expecting them to conform to a specific idea of what "ready" looks like. If they are being rowdy and can't sit still, they are sent out to weed the garden or wash the windows. If they aren't happy to sit on their bottoms and listen to a story, they are free to play in the sandpit or do an activity that will help them calm themselves down. After all, their main job is to learn the rhythms of the classroom, learn to love coming to school, and learn to contribute to the class environment.
But that's my Montessori bias coming through, and I realise other classrooms are not that accommodating. I'd say keep in close contact with his current teacher, and have a good long chat with the school, too, to see what they have to say. Good luck!
I know a boy who went early. Academically always fine. Now in year 9 some friends in the same year are close to 2 years older. They are "men", tall, shaving, hairy, and this boy is still a "boy". I do wonder about his ability to socialize and hang with the girls like his mates. Personally I would not put my boy up a grade. Teenage years are hard enough without feeling like small fry.
I think you will find there are plenty of boys who are older than the average boy in their year that are still in the same boat, I know both my DH and brother were!!
My advice is wait. Base the decision on your own child, as each child varies so greatly. I finished school and started university before I was 18 and was physically/emotionally equal if not advanced to many of my peers. I don't know how I would have handled it if my mother had decided to keep me back another year as by the time I was starting my final year of high school I was already bored.
I feel your frustration entirely. My DS is reading, adding and subtracting already at age 4. We had hoped to start him in montessori this year but found our options were not able to cater with the negatives of being gifted. I am now finding keeping him occupied and interested a challenge but gave up the option of early admission to mainstream for (the failed) montessori.
Best of luck with your decision
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