Parental Decisions

As parents we often find ourselves having to make decisions. Some are easy – no you can’t have ice cream for breakfast. Some are much more difficult – is he ready for school?

Master N was born on June 30th, the school cut-off date in QLD. Up here, kids can start prep as long as they turn 5 by June 30th of that year. He will turn 5 on that date, making him the very youngest in the school, if he goes. If he had been born 10 hours later, he wouldn’t be allowed to go to school in January.

I have agonised over this all year. His friends are all going, even one who is only one month older than him. We even enrolled him in a school, went to the induction morning tea day, accepted the spot they offered, then didn’t confirm it. We had decided he wasn’t ready. I was also not really impressed with a few things from the school, including the principal! But that’s another story. That was back in September.

Now it’s December, and after a conversation with some friends, I started questioning our decision. I texted my husband, “B & M think Nick should go to school next year.” His reply came back, “So do I.” In a panic I called the local public school, where several of his friends are going. I’ve not heard one bad word about this school, but we were yet to actually check it out. The woman on the other end was lovely and set up a meeting with the deputy principal for this morning.

I can see both sides of this argument. I can see benefits to holding him back and benefits to sending him. So how do we make this decision? With our gut? My gut is flip-flopping. He goes to a great Montessori-based kindy, it wouldn’t hurt him to stay there another year. He gets plenty of stimulation and won’t be bored. But he will be the oldest, always. I see how he is with older kids now and he loves them, and learns so much from them. Wouldn’t it be good if he went to school with older kids and continued to learn from them?

We have confused him – taking him to the other school, telling him that will be his school next year. Then telling him he’s staying at kindy for another year. Now taking him to a different big school today.

Yesterday when The Mechanic picked him up he told him, “I’m graduating with my friends tonight!” First off, parenting fail to The Mechanic and I, neither of who realised last night was the Christmas sing-a-long and graduation night. Secondly, last year he refused to even stand with the kids, let alone sing, and spent all night attached to me. He repeated that at the Mother’s Day morning tea they had. This was one of the indications I thought he might not be ready for big school just yet. Last night he blew us out of the water – he not only stood with his friends, he sang. Then he got all dressed up in his graduation cap and gown and graduated with 19 of his little classmates, telling everyone that when he grows up, he wants to be Batman. Seriously. Others wanted to be doctors, pilots, policemen, he wants to be Batman.

He told me last night, walking to the car, “That’s not my favourite school anymore.” I said, “No? Which is your favourite?” “Big school,” he said. He seems pretty pumped to go to big school. I feel like if we don’t do the right thing for him with this decision, we’ll be doing a disservice to him. All any parent ever wants is for their kid to have the best chance to excel. I just don’t know what will help him to excel in this situation. But then I fall back on the “Whatever we choose is the right choice” motto, and I think maybe we can’t go wrong, no matter what we do.

Are you kids the oldest or youngest in the classes? Did you have a hard time making this decision? 

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31 thoughts on “Parental Decisions

  1. You are such an amazing mum. I know this may seem like a big decision. And it is. But it isn’t going to be the end of the world even if you do make the ‘wrong’ decision (which, really doesn’t even exist anyhow). Don’t over think it – easier said than done, but I really feel that way. I think you have done so much of that over the past year, you really need to give yourself a break. Trust your little guy. He will thrive no matter where he goes. How can he not? He has the most amazingly, loving parents who will ensure his upbringing will be full of love and happiness. As you know, I am all for him going to big school. But I am not his mother either. However, I have seen many a ‘Nick’ go to school and they all jump in with two feet first. With that aside gorgeous girl, know that which ever way you go, it won’t mean he will end up in therapy 18 years from now. Far from it. In the whole scheme of decisions, this will be but a distant memory in years to come. Meaning, it really isn’t life changing. Which ever way you go, it can’t be wrong. You won’t allow for it to be. That’s because you are such a wonderful mum who loves her boy. xx

  2. I have to agreew ith Melanie – it isn’t a life changing decision and when you look back in 10-15 years time (hell probably even 5 years time) you will wonder why you worried so much about it. Go with your gut instinct – I have realised that even when we think that don’t have a gut instinct – we do – it is always there and sometimes I was just so busy listening to other ‘stuff’ I couldn’t hear it. Even with the car – it is down to two choices – and I say that I don’t mind either – but in all honesty, there is one I would prefer – I just don’t want to be the one who says I prefer it in case it doesn’t live up to our expectations !!! I know that schooling is more important than a car but what I am trying to say is that on some level you do know what you want to do – you just need to drown out the white noise and listen.
    Lotsa hugs
    Me

    • I think part of it is I already told the kindy he was staying another year, and they said another year would benefit him. So I feel like I’m going against their advice and that they’ll think their opinion means nothing to me. Which is no reason to hold him back, but that’s how I feel! I also feel like he’s my baby – and he is, he always will be – but I can’t hold him back because *I* am not ready for him to go. He was SO excited today, you should have seen his face. I think he grew 10 cms too.

    • Well, in QLD MOST kids are only 17 when they finished school. Nick will be 17 1/2, so not too bad. I had only just turned 17 a couple of months before graduating too. So I’m not overly concerned about that. I just want him to do well and enjoy school, not struggle.

  3. It’s stessful isn’t it!! I stressed for a few years about where to send my son to school, public or private/which one etc. We were lucky that we are in SA where they (currently) start the term after they turn 5. So my son who was 5 last Sept, started term 4 2011. He has now done a full year of reception this year – so 5 terms all up. IT was great for him. That extra term did the world of good. He sounds a bit like Nick in that he went from having to sit with me at assembly, not getting up on stage to get his welcome certificate or awards etc, to no happily sitting with his classmates and going up on stage whenever his name is called out, singing on stage etc.
    My daughter is 5 in March – and the 1 intake would have started – so she will be starting in 2014 when she is 4.
    I think at the end of the day you can only do what you think’s best – he will adapt accordingly.

    • Thanks Bec. You are right, they are so adaptable aren’t they? He’s also switched schools before from a daycare type place to more of a kindergarten type place, and he thrived. I think he’ll surprise me here, too, and if not, we will give him all the help we can.

  4. Such a hard decision, but like you said, i’m pretty sure whatever decision you make, it will be the right one.
    I was the youngest, but never had any issues, my birthday is 11th June. I in fact was one of the mature ones in the year and now have older friends and left the immature kidlets behind!

    Good luck with your choice hon, we have all got your back xx

    • I think it’s as good as flipping a coin. He is so excited about it I don’t see how I can NOT send him at this point. He has some other friends going there, so I think he will be fine. I’m not sure about me, tho!

  5. Both my sister and I were the youngests (my birthday being 29th and hers 30th of December under the old system). Both of us had no problem with schooling, but were always aware that we could repeat a year if required. It meant that I finished university very young though (I was only 19)

    I had a student in my class who was kept back (was born 27th December) and was hyper aware of it, to the point where he would seek out older friends, even if socially he wasn’t really ‘with’ them. Even though there was a student only 8 days younger than him in the class, he always pointed out that he was a year older.

    On the other hand, my in-laws kept my husband back and it was excellent for him – it’s a hard choice, but a good school will help you – especially if there are any concerns in the future.

    • I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and they always stand by the decision they made and said it was “the best thing” which makes me think that kids will thrive no matter what you do. I’m in the minority of thinking he should wait a year, so now I’m questioning my motives for thinking that – think I’m just not ready to let go.

  6. I struggle with this as we have the same cut off in the NT. I have sent my two older children along as soon as they were able to go, with hindsight though I am not sure it was the best idea. Many of my thoughts were similar to yours, now however having had some experience with school systems I feel there is no rush. There is plenty of time for them to become institutionalized as the years roll by. And while it is great to see them learning for their older peers it is just a nice to have them as the older ones with a chance to lead.
    Just trust your heart and your judgement. Only you know your son.

    Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses

    • I don’t really think there’s a rush, either, but I see all of his friends who are starting school and I know he’s at least as ready as most of them, if not all of them. I think I’d only be holding him back for selfish reasons.

  7. I’ve had to make this choice. Twice.
    Once with Mr10 when 30th December was the cut off (He’s 25th December) and then with Mr7, who’s birthday is 1st June. With both boys, they did 2 rounds of prep. That seemed to be the best balance. Not too old for kindy, and not sent up to year 1 too soon. And, Mr10 has never clicked. Mr7 has – only because he’s in a school with multi-age classes and he’s has been in a prep/1 class for 3 years.
    It ended up being the best solution for us.
    Hubs was sent to school early, and was still 16 when he finished year 12. It meant it took a few more years for him to really be ready for adult life – but doesn’t matter at all! It all evens out in the end.
    It will be OK, regardless. x Try not to sweat it. x
    K xxx

    • Thanks Kathryn. I’m feeling a bit more confident with him going after talking to mum (they – we – do know best!). I think he’ll be fine. He’s so excited about it, so that has to help, right?

  8. I don’t have a lot to add to this as I have not been in this position, but all I will say is you know your little boy and you will make the right choice whatever that turns out to be. He will thrive either way, be it as the oldest in the class or the youngest in the class. Kids are resourceful and will take the best out of whichever situation they are in! (and may I say how cool does he look in his graduation gown, is it me or people graduating younger and younger these days!! ;-)) x

    • My mum couldn’t believe they actually wore caps and gowns! I’m not sure when this practice started, but I used to make fun when lived in the US that every year there were caps and gowns. I don’t know that we even did that in high school when I graduated grade 12!! Kids ARE resourceful, and he’s got two supportive and present parents, so he should be fine!

  9. It’s a really hard decision to make. Our 16 y.o. daughter has her birthday at the end of the November, & when she started school the cut-off was end of December. We let her go through with all the other kiddies born in 1996 but … part of me wishes we had waited the extra year. Although she coped just fine in primary school, it’s in high school that it can get trickier – the whole social adjustment / peer pressure thing comes into play. Most of her schoolmates are almost a full year older than her and that can be difficult, she hasn’t always been happy that she doesn’t get the same privileges and freedoms as some of her class. Just something for you to think about anyways.

    • I have worried about that – the other end, when he’s 17 1/2 graduating high school. Which doesn’t seem all that bad. Was your daughter 16 when she graduated?? Or she’d just turned 17? I think we’re going to send him and hope for the best, worst case he repeats prep.

  10. There are some great resources on http://www.schoolatoz.com.au that address yr question, and how to help yr child get ready for big school. I was one of the editors, and it’s a really cool site cos it was made by parents for parents. Incidentally, Im a June baby and I think in my case it wld have been better to hold me back (it feels silly talking about me at 4.5) but it does come down to the child.

  11. Our boys are January babies and while they’re not quite 3 yet we’re already starting to talk about when to start them for “big school”.
    It sounds like you’re making the right decision. If he’s pumped to go, why stop a good thing from happening ?

  12. You know we can have all our opinions but it comes down to what you think is best for him. Not that my opinion matters but you know me I always have one. I think if he thinks he’s ready then it’s a good indication, and so is the fact that he was ULTRA proud of graduating that night. He isn’t often the most outgoing, loudest kid on the block so for him to make a big deal out of this, it is obviously a big deal. He is a very smart kid and while on the younger side, like my No.1, I think we have to take a leap of faith every now and then and see how they go. Like my school, I bet your school will put the kids that get on well, or not, in the same class and they will also pick up on things if he isn’t coping. But you will know that. Your awesome mother’s instinct will kick in, like it is now. If you didn’t think he was ready for school you wouldn’t have that annoying nagging voice in your head telling you he is. I’m dreading sending M off to Prep because I worry about her being hurt, but it’s the getting up not the falling down that matters. Can’t wait to hear what you decide xxxx

  13. So hard, these decisions. What a lovely little man you have there, might I add! Gorgeous.
    My Small Child is an October baby, so the decision is made for us, which is nice! As for me, I’m April, so I actually went to school early and was almost the youngest. Due to our family moving and having to change school, I then repeated a year when I was 11 as I started at a private school which had a more academic focus. So it’s funny really. I went to school quite young to begin with and coped fine, then changed schools and the parents had to make another decision and that ended up also being the right one for me!
    Ahhh, the STRESS of these decisions! Sounds to me like you’re making all the right ones for your family x

    • The more I think about it, the more everyone who has had to make this choice says they made the right one. So I just have to go with it and know that we made the right choice at the time. If things prove otherwise down the track, there will be other choices to make, and we’ll cross those bridges when we come to them. Ahhhh, a parent’s job is never done/easy!

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