I have never come across a family who regretted giving their child another year. That’s the first point, and a pretty important one at that. My second is; do you want your child to ‘just cope’ or do you want them to thrive?
Children need to develop socially, emotionally and even physically before they are ready to sit in a classroom with 20 plus other children and concentrate all day every day, with structure and a strict routine (and not a lot of play/free time). If you have any concerns at all, I personally would recommend waiting.
Being ‘ready’ for school doesn’t just include academically, it includes socially, emotionally and physically. And preparing your child for school isn’t about teaching them to count to 100, or teaching them to read, it’s about providing them with a variety of situations and experiences that help to develop their resilience, problem solving skills, ability to self-regulate and control their bodies and own behaviour. These things also develop with time and if we do send our children to school at age four, we are actually not giving them the maximum amount of time that they ‘could’ have or that they are entitled to.
There is a huge difference between a 4 year-old and 5 year-old. Think about your child as a 4 year-old now, compared to when they were 3. Think about how much better they can handle and cope with new and challenging circumstances and environments, how they have built resilience and developed their problem-solving skills, how they are much better they are at taking turns and sharing! They can also now more easily ask for help and they are now beginning to show the ability to stay focused on an activity for a longer period of time. So different!!!
These skills we don’t get to teach at a school, and if we do, it’s for a very limited amount of time. My point is, you saw such a difference in your child between the ages of 3 and 4, and you WILL see a huge difference again between ages of 4 and 5. You might be thinking, ‘my child has come such a long way’ but imagine how much further they could come and imagine how much more confident, resilient, compassionate and independent they will be! They will be ready to start school and thrive!
Children learn a lot through play in the early years, so it is extremely important to ensure your child has been exposed to enough of this before starting them off at formal schooling. And yes, that first year of school is formal learning. It includes sitting at a desk, partaking in formal assessments and even mid-year and end-of-year report cards.
If you do decide not to send your child to school, make sure you are involving them in some type of regular activities where you are providing them with new learning opportunities that continue to further challenge them. Be it a School Readiness Class, a playgroup, different learning activities at home, kindy/pre-school or just new family/home experiences where they are able to explore new surroundings, meet new people and learn to interact with others, problem solve and build resilience and independence.