Children, Friends & Family, Life, Parenting
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And, that was that

Just a few weeks ago, I walked my son to and from his reception year at school for the very last time.

THE LAST TIME.

He is still yet to turn 5.  An August born baby, he is the youngest in his year and will turn 5 a week before he enters Year 1, just as many of his classmates will begin to celebrate their 6th birthday.

Looking back, he probably was not ready to start school when he did.  Although at the time, we did not fully appreciate this.

I decided not to delay his start at school until he was 5, which would have meant missing reception year and entering straight into Year 1.

I also did not want to push his entry into reception back by a few months, as I thought it would be harder on him to join an already established class.

Besides, he was ready for school in so many ways.

At his nursery, he was a very popular, bright and articulate 3-year old boy who was exceeding pre-school expectations.

Although in my mind he was still a baby, he had always adjusted well to new people and surroundings and I was confident he would take the new school routine into his stride.

As I had worked full-time up until the month before he started school, I did not worry too much about separation anxiety.  If anything, he would have more of my time than he’d had before.  His days would be much shorter and I’d be there for him every day after school.

He was also showing more and more signs of independence.  He could dress himself, brush his own teeth, wipe his own bottom and he loved books, painting and imaginative play.

Then in other ways, he was not ready at all.

He often still needed an afternoon nap on the sofa and was wheeled home from nursery in a buggy every evening. So, I expected tiredness to be a big factor.

Once at school, it became apparent that he did not have the same level of emotional, social or physical ability as some of his new classmates.

Nothing too alarming, but he seemed so young compared to the others.

When the children were asked to gather on the mat to listen to their teacher, he would be easily distracted by the dinosaurs in the corner of the room calling out to be played with.

While he had made many friends at nursery and a couple of ‘best friends’, he had yet to make the same connection with someone at school.

On play dates, he still enjoyed dressing up in superhero costumes, playing house, shops, or chasing cars up and down the hallway; whereas some of the older boys in his class wanted to play football or pretend fight with sticks.

When asked to share the school iPad, which he particularly enjoyed playing with, he had trouble giving it up when his turn was over.  Even more trouble controlling his temper as he lobbed it across the floor in protest…

Always a lover of stories, he grew frustrated with books and started refusing to practice reading at home because he found it “too hard”.

As for phonics, well he just wasn’t really getting it. Just as soon as I thought he had cracked a sound, it was just as soon forgotten.

I had every faith he would get there, but it was not an easy time. Mostly because he was so hard on himself when he got things wrong and I didn’t want him to be.

After Christmas, things seemed to improve.

At home, he started to talk about other children and formed friendships. He showed a great sense of humour and did silly things in an attempt to make us and his new friends laugh.

He was showing more awareness of other people’s feelings and had a better understanding of good and bad behavior. He also enjoyed telling tales on children who broke ‘the rules’. Maybe a bit too much.

His t-shirts were decorated with stickers for good listening.

He controlled his frustration over difficult words and started to read independently.

Physically, he was much more agile and was always climbing, swinging or hanging upside down on the climbing frame at the playground.

When he reached 4 1/2 years old, I felt he was at the perfect age to enter reception. He understood most of what he was learning at school and was able to explain his day to me much more succinctly.   He became more engaged in his home learning projects and loved Mathletics; nothing to do with it being an iPad based application I am sure…

I am very proud of all that he has achieved. He has grown-up such a lot this past year and it has been so good for him.  He was definitely pushed out of his comfort zone in the beginning but found his own groove eventually.

He is a lovely, happy, confident boy who loves learning.

It is too early to tell if his education will be put at a disadvantage because of the month he was born, although research certainly indicates to this being the case.

However, it is what it is and I believe in focusing on the positives.

President Obama, Sam Mendes, Coco Chanel, John Locke, Madonna, Stephen Fry, Mother Theresa, Robert DeNiro and ME all also celebrate our birthday in August.

Let’s just wait and see how it all pans out.

*****

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12 Comments

  1. My son will be 9 on the 26th and I could have written this post four years ago. I worried so much about him during that first year and so many of those things you mentioned were true of him. We found the first two years difficult but now he is about to enter his final year at primary, we couldn’t be prouder of him. He still gravitates towards younger children but he has grown up so much.

    I’m sure in four years, you won’t be worrying about the August birthday any more – well apart from the nightmare of trying to have a birthday party in the holidays.
    Nikki Thomas recently posted…The 365 Project – Week 32My Profile

    • Thanks Nikki, this is very reassuring.

      I am pulling my hair out over the August birthday party already – he really wants one but most of his class are away and I didn’t want to push it back until September when others are turning 6! So, am hoping will have enough family and friends there to fill out the room 🙂

  2. Maria Bateson. says

    That’s a lovely post Sarah, the thing that has the biggest effect of children’s learning is how much parents support learning from home (not necessarily homework but the messages that the child gets about learning, from home) sounds to me like you are doing great!

  3. Mrsnige says

    Hi
    My youngest son is also an August birthday, 24th to be exact. He is now at University doing a Masters Degree (proud? not much!).
    I can tell you that it does settle down, and they do eventually level off with their peers. In my son’s case educationally it was in Junior school, probably about year 5. Emotionally, well, they are all different, but he found it hard all the way through, especially once his year group started getting driving licences and learning to drive.
    Now at 22 you wouldn’t know.

    • What a lovely positive story, thank you for sharing it with me. I am sure there will be ups and downs and I’ll just have to keep an eye on him. You must be so proud of your son, congratulations x

    • Oh gosh I hadn’t thought that far ahead but that must be galling for them!
      The Bug celebrated his birthday last week and finds it really difficult that being 7 isn’t going to be cool for very long before all his friends start turning 8. On the other hand, his friend who turns 8 in the first week back at school thinks he’s lucky because he’ll be able to have a pool party for his 8th, as all his friends will be old enough!
      We always have his party at the end of term, before everyone goes away for the summer. Then he gets another, family birthday on the actual day. So we do make up for it. He has found it more difficult socially at school but he’s getting there. I’ve found myself being a bit pushier with his teachers than I was with GG, who was at the opposite end of the year, but with the right support, it’s been fine.
      You’re a great Mum Sarah, so he’ll be ok x
      Actually Mummy… recently posted…What does your child see on his games console?My Profile

  4. I definitely think the age gap with summer born children is more noticeable in the earlier years of school – there’s so much that goes on in their litte bodies and brains between 4 and 5! It’s definitely a bit of a worry for me. F turned 4 at the end of June and, while I’m not really concerned about the academic side of things it’s more a worry about her stamina with the long days, ability to cut up her school dinners, going to the toilet on her own etc. We’ve worked hard to prepare her but I can’t help but feel this new baby (due at the other end of the school year) will have an easier ride at first, when the time eventually comes for school. Mind you, my sister’s birthday is 15th August and she’s now a successful doctor so it doesn’t seem to have done her much harm!
    Molly recently posted…Blogger Bump Club Week 13 #BlogBumpClubMy Profile

    • Ah the school dinners! Some days Z comes home and when I ask him what he has had for lunch, he says ‘pudding!’. It’s all there on the same tray, of course he is going to ignore the vegetables and eat the cake. I worried also about the toilet but prepared him as much as I could and he was fine. Like you say, at 4, Z still required so much supervision, so this was a bit of a concern. He definitely found the summer term easier as he was that bit older. Those few months really do make a big difference. Now just keeping everything crossed for Year 1…

  5. F starts school in September so this was a really interesting post for me. He’s confident and loves pre-school but he can’t sit still, he hates letters and drawing and he’s terrible at going to the loo too late. I have no idea how he will get on but its a great school and I’m juts crossing my fingers they give him the support he needs.
    I never considered keeping him back because the social aspect to me in the most important thing, i juts want him to be happy x
    Hurrah For Gin recently posted…To my biggest boy on your 4th…My Profile

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