School Daze.

Punky is 3. I shouldn’t be worrying about anything to do with school yet, should I?


I am though. I am & I’ve got myself into a doubting tizz. This parenting palaver is hard, especially for an indecisive worrier like myself.


My dilemma; Le Punk is a January baby. We have the “luxury” of being able to choose when she starts school, the choices being when she has just turned 5 or when she has just turned 6… & I am so ridiculously anxious already about this decision.


We have to decide by the end of this year, essentially, so that she can either move up to 4 year old kindergarten next year in readiness for starting Prep the year after, or do another year of 3 year old kinder so she moves up to 4 year old with the same group & then on to school.


There are pluses & minuses to both options; we discovered only days ago that some speech issues we were mildly concerned about may be speech issues we should be somewhat more concerned about, so we’re off to the speech therapist next week. Delaying school would ensure that those issues are well & truly dealt with before the black shiny shoes make an appearance, for example.


We’ve pretty much agreed that yes, sending her when she’s 6 is the way to go. She’ll be more confidant, a leader. She won’t be the young one when that inevitable stage of teenage experimentation rolls around…


…but still I worry. One niggle is how tall she is; already the size of a 4 year old & as big or bigger than some kids I’ve seen running around in school uniform. I can’t say I ever hated being the tallest in my class, but everyone is different. What if she isn’t accepted because she towers above her classmates? Where is a crystal ball when I need one?


Opinions? Advice? Hit me. So far I have gathered that people have often regretted sending their child to school at the first opportunity & less often regretted keeping them home a little longer, but you know, I’m worrying that I’m missing some vital, pivotal, life changing point.




  1. I don't have kids (obviously) but I started school at 4 and didn't turn 5 until the end of April. I was always ahead of my classmates in primary school, and in high school was elevated to higher grade classes for some of my subjects so that I wasn't bored.
    So what I'm trying to say is that I think age is irrelevant - intelligence and eagerness to learn is more important in my un-parent opinion.

  2. Our oldest is a december baby and a boy so we were hit from every direction with suggestions to keep him back-boys being more immature/slower yadda yadda.We generally ignored them.Then his english preps teacher(preschool) said he was too emotionally immature to cope with the challenges of kindergarten(first year of school in sydney).His place was removed and the battle was on.The thing we decided was that we were sure she was wrong and that if she proved to be right, he was young enough for there to be no stigma if he had to repeat.So we held our breath and sent him.It would have been a HUGE mistake to hold him back a year.Within months of starting school he was flying-emotionally/socially/academically.His teacher said she sees this a lot as many children have a growth spurt in terms of maturity and by then its too late.
    What can I say? You know your child and nothing is irrevocable at that age so mistakes,though maybe mortifying, are not going to ruin things.
    Listen to your gut.You'll make the right decision and if not,well,as her parent I believe it is your prerogative to change you mind : ) Good luck

  3. Clare has said it really well. Trust your instincts. My boy is a January bub and we could have kept him back this year and started him when he turned six. We chose to send him and he is thriving. My youngest is an April babe and unless someone gives me a solid reason not too she will start school the year she turns 5 (will be 4 for the whole first term). Being the third child she is ready to start school now!

  4. I agree with everything Cam has said. (Greta was the same)

    And when Eva started school in NZ they put her a year ahead (for a whole year), we then decided to move her back to her own age - with no problems. (she had friends in the year ahead as well then!)

    Then here in Australia, they put her a year ahead without our knowledge - and after 3 weeks we put her back down with her own age (again!).

    It totally depends on the child and what you think they can cope with. You're her mum, you know her best. And if you change your mind, its okay!XX

  5. Send her to a school with mixed-age classes (more and more primary schools are following this Montessori-type model) so that there's a range of ages, sizes and abilities in her class. In this sort of setting kids don't "stand out" for being a bit different as there's no "norm" so to speak. Good luck - I would always start later rather than earlier.

  6. We have a similar situation here with our 3 year old girl. She's right on the cusp here for the age group cut off. With a brother only 15 months older I always thought she would be only a year younger than him at school. She is smart enough but socially her first year at preschool (I'm in NSW where preschool is the equivalent to Kinder in Vic) she was miserable being the very youngest in the class. However we've held her back this year and she is much more confident being one of the more elder girls. In saying this it was suggested by many that my son would need to be held back but we didn't - and he loves school and is fine both academically and socially. So I really think it depends on how you think your child will go based on their personality, skills etc and also keeping in mind that as was previously mentioned in the comments there is no real stigma in having to change classes if it doesn't work out at such a young age.

  7. Vic - it's a tough one, but I was the same as Cam (started school at 4 with a late April birthday), and my boy is a January lad. He will be going to school next year as a 5 year old, for no other reason than he's ready - socially, mentally, excitedly. I figure if it doesn't work we can deal with it then, but I don't want to second-guess what may/may not happen. Best wishes.

  8. Not being a parent I'm not sure I'm much help.
    I agree with Cam, I think it's up to the child and what you think will suit her.
    No one knows her as well as you.
    Trust your instinct too xo

  9. It's a tough one and everyone has a different opinion. My eldest is mid December and is the 2nd youngest in his class, I sent him just after he turned 5 and even though it took him a while to settle in (more to do with the fact he's a very emotional boy) he loves it and is doing really well. My third is an April babe and has just turned 3 and I have already decided to hold her back. I just don't feel she'll be ready and I think the extra year can only benefit her especially as she gets older, it's silly but I worry about a 17 year old heading off to uni. Oh and she's already taller than some of the preps this year. :)

  10. Vic, that is a hard one and one that you can only make. Talk to the speech theropist about it. Baden and Le Punk are the same age and if I have my way he will be starting when he is 6. I know that he will be the oldest but we too have just taken him off for speech theropy.
    I think he would be fine but I dont want him to just be fine - I want him to be confident and successed.

  11. The schooling system here in SA is different )not good different either) and is thankfully about to change. But the one child that we had a chance to decide, we erred on the side of delaying the start. From our homework, we couldn't find a single significant disadvantage over the many advantages. Hopefully your gut and instincts will kick and the decision, whatever it is, will be a no brainer.

  12. Have had the very same dilemma with an April-born kiddo, whose b'day is almost right on the school cut-off. We were sitting round mid-way through 3-year-old kinder wondering about school starts and getting into a bit of a flap.

    In the end it all came down to whether said kiddo would cope the following year with 4-year-old kinder ... whew ... no crystal-ball gazing required!

    The kindergarten strongly suggested (in a nice way) that kiddo should repeat 3-year-old kinder. It was a tricky decision to make, but one we became more comfortable with over time. He repeated and has started prep this year (he turned 6 in April). It worked out to be a great decision ... for him.

    If you are undecided is there the option to hedge your bets? Could Punky could do 4-year-old kinder next year and then repeat if need be? That way she could go into Prep if she was ready. If not, you should be able to access a 2nd year of funded kindergarten if the teacher agrees that it would be beneficial. (In 2013 4-year-old kinder will be a minimum of 15hrs/week, so the second year would be a bit more challenging.)

    Good luck!!!

  13. Hi Vic, tuff choice. I went through primary school is south Australia, but moved to Victoria int first year of high schools , because of the states schooling being different, I was put into 2nd year of high school, but 12-18 months younger than my class. All went well, until the last couple of years, other kids were starting to go out on weekends and so on, my parents would not let a 14/15 year old go out. So I missed out and caused "issues at home". My point is, she may be mature and exited enough now, but will you be exited when she wants to go out with her older friends.
    Having said all that, my boys are June and oct, so never had to make this very very hard decision . Good luck :)

  14. parenting is just full of hard decisions, isn't it?
    (I'm saying this after this week meeting with our childcare / 3yr old kinder teacher, and booking a child psychology appointment...)
    I don't have any useful advice, just support... good luck x

  15. I've held Asha back. She is Dec born. She has received 2 years of 3 and one year of 4 year old kinda. I have 6 months to go until she heads to school. I looked at schools this week and realized how important it is for kids to be in the best position to go. I DO NOT regret this one bit. I have had a ball with her this year, she is more open to the world, attentive, active, fun, and so READY.

    This is your decision. Yours and your hubbys. You know your child and you know her teachers. Listen to them. They are the in the best position to help you out, not a group of women that see your life through a window. xx

  16. Jack's a September baby so we aren't meant to 'decide'. However, he has big speech issues. When you said it's just been discovered Punk has some issues, I confess I scoffed because Jack's are so damned obvious and have been since he was two, and he's 2y9m now. One day in the next few months we'll get to the top of the list for speech therapy and I will cry with relief.

    One of my biggest concerns if Jack starts school a year late is him turning 18 before the end of Year 11. I grew up in a country town where you booked in for your driving test 7am on your 18th birthday, then as soon as the bottle shop opened you drove over with a carful of mates to buy them all booze. I know he'll have different experiences growing up in the suburbs, and hopefully he'll be a bookish lad with plenty of bookish friends - not as much pressure to conform to what the 80 other people in his year at highschool do on the weekends. But still I worry.

    I'm also so desperate for a bit of independence for myself that the thought of having him around for an extra year makes me cringe.

    Forget about height, that's so insignificant compared to everything else (and maybe you already pointed that out and I didn't read thoroughly enough). I loved being the tallest in my class, although that didn't happen until I was twelve.

    Now I'm going to read all the long comments others have left before me.

  17. Like CurlyPops, I started school when I was 4 and turned 5 mid-Feb. I too was always the smartest in my class and staying back a year would have been bad for my brains.

    I'm inclined to go with Clare Carter and let them repeat Prep if need be, and if they shoot ahead during that first year of prep then they're in the perfect place to move ahead with their peers.

  18. I think it is great to get everyones opinion but ultimately you need to do what is right for YOUR child and YOUR family. We are all very different.
    My youngest turned 4 in January and I initially had him booked in for Kinder but decided to delay him for another year. I copped a bit of flack from friends saying that they all thought he was ready. I do not regret my decision and can only see positives from keeping him home for an extra year. I'd hate for him to have to repeat Prep.

  19. Don't worry about it too much, you will know when she's ready

  20. Our son started school a month after turning 5, he was well and truly ready and had been for the second half of the 4 year old kinder year.
    A lot of people are holding their kids back for the extra year, but it really depends on the child. You still have a while before you need to make the decision and it is amazing how much kids change in just a few months. If you are really concerned talk to the kinder teacher.

  21. We have faced the same dilemma with my February born son. We did as Liesl suggested and he started 4 year old kinder this year and will repeat it again next year (at the recommendation of his teacher)and start school in 2013. He will turn 6 shortly after starting school. It's definitely depends on the child. I'm glad my second son is born late April so we won't have to decide. Good Luck!

  22. Oh this one I have perspective on!!
    My two turned five in March - they are doing 4yo kinder and will start school just before they turn 6.
    They are both REALLY tall - they are as tall as their cousin who is in grade one now - so regardless of when they went they would be tall - that's life - their dad is 195cm (6ft 5 if you prefer!) so they will always be the tall kids I think.
    I agree with your comment about people regretting sending but rarely regretting not sending.
    Also think of the difference if they are bottom year of a composite - there can be up to 3 years difference in age if you send them 'young' between them and the older kids in the higher grade. (make sense??)
    A friend of mine sent her kids - they were five in Feb - they are the youngest kids in class and she says they are 'coping really well".
    I don't want 'coping'.
    I want them to feel comfortable and confident and not like they are forever playing catch-up.
    It's a big decision to make and you have to trust your instincts to make the right one.
    Good luck!!

  23. phewww, took me so long to read all the great comments!
    I agree that it does depend on the child. Amelie turned 5 in Feb and even though was a little clingy the first week of school, she is loving it now, really enjoys it. not coping as Karen said, enjoying it and learning.
    now Aidan on the other hand is booked in to see a speech therapist very soon, he is an August baby so there isn't a choice there, but if he were on the cut off I would have definitely kept him back because he is differently minded that Amelie and sitting in a classroom all day would have tired him out mentally.
    so as everyone else said, you know Le Punk, you know her capabilities, you know what will make her happy and motivated.
    i recommend 4 yr old kinder with the chance of a "bonus" year at 4 yr old kinder rather that 2 x 3 yr old kinder years.

    goodluck & let us know how you go ♥

  24. I'm a big one for making decisions based on my gut feeling as not matter how much research I do if my gut says otherwise then it is never going to sit with me.

    For the record we sent Mandy at 4 (April baby) but there were no speech issues etc and we could have always had her do 2 rounds onf 4 yr old kinder but her kinder teacher agreed that she was more than ready.


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