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.