Sometimes I can have something in my head for a while, a little thought that I’ve squirreled away and tried not to worry about. All of a sudden that something is brought to the front of my mind and it is all I can think about. We had parents evening for Lucas last week and it was great; she is so happy with his attitude coming into pre-school and how he socialises and makes friends. Overall he is good…for his age. He isn’t behind for his years and months but as he moves up the school and he is expected to reach a level for his year group I am well aware that it is going to take him a while to catch up to his peers.
Not only is he the youngest in his class, he is also young for his age. He started talking late and although his speech has improved massively it still isn’t quite up to where it should be. It is being monitored should he need speech therapy and if it is needed it will be put in place before the end of this academic year. Yet, I’m afraid it will hold him back in Reception when he isn’t able to express himself quickly or join in effectively. Emotionally he is still immature and I know they have problems getting him to settle to an activity in pre-school. He is just the same at home and although it is improving I’m not sure how much better that will be by September. As the teacher herself recognises this isn’t because he is badly behaved, it is because he is young. He doesn’t quite have the attention and listening skills of some of the other children.
He has a fierce independent streak, he knows his own mind and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He has taken things in that he won’t show the teachers, or even us. He learns best by doing, something that we focus on at home as getting him to sit down and write often ends in a battle. We were told that she knows he is capable and she can see the understanding but there is no evidence to support it. It’s sad that these things matter so much now but that is the nature of modern education and it will only get worse the further up the school he goes. He is smart in so many ways; he loves building and construction, books and jigsaws, his imagination is endless and he can tell a fantastic story, he loves to be outside and can talk all about animals and nature. He can see when someone is sad or happy, he can emphasise and tell us his emotions. Sadly I know these things aren’t as important when it comes to assessing children now and although I’m sure he would eventually catch up to his peers, will the damage already have been done? I couldn’t care less what level he is; it is a number on a piece of paper, that is all. It doesn’t tell me all I need to know about my child. It isn’t as if he doesn’t learn to read or write by a certain age he will never learn how to and if he could progress at his own pace I’m sure we wouldn’t have a problem. He will never be the most academic child, it just isn’t in his nature, and yet he does love to learn.
The fact is that had he been born 33 hours later he wouldn’t even be in pre-school yet and he wouldn’t be starting school until 2016. This is something I feel conflicted about; without a doubt pre-school has been fantastic for him and he just loves it. He loves the children, the teachers, the environment. Everyday he runs to the school doors to see his friends, he leaves me without a backward glance bounding into class with a smile. He was ready for it, he needed it, but is he ready for full-time school in September, I’m just not sure? It seems a big leap and it makes me anxious to think he will spend the whole of his primary education being given extra support just to reach an ‘average’ that he isn’t capable of as it isn’t suitable for his age.
I think maybe he is lacking the maturity and understanding to be ready to make that leap to full-time education. I’m worried that years of being given extra support and interventions may stifle his learning and result in a dislike of school. On the other hand I’m worried that holding him back a year may isolate him from other children. He loves his class and in some ways I can see signs that maybe he could flourish in school, given the right environment.
Summer born babies are being discussed in the media more and more and although the guidelines state that schools should be flexible, in practice it isn’t actually happening everywhere. Even though I have applied for a school place for Lucas this year I am going to talk through our options with his teachers. I don’t see the sense in delaying a term or skipping a year group. Surely, the only way to do it is to do an extra year of pre-school, join school in Reception and stay in that year group? I still don’t know either way what would be best for him but I do know that it is time to at least open the discussion.