Childhood Diseases

Posted by: fde | 2013-01-09


December baby-when to start big school?

My son turned 4 in December and attends a playschool for kids up to age 4. According to primary school rules, he could enter Grade R next year (2014). His gross motor skills were mildly behind other children (we live in a flat), but he caught up once at play-school. Although he was a bit of a late talker, he now speaks at his age level. He could name 12 colours, uppercase alphabets, numbers before age 3, and at one stage showed an interest in basic maths, and is currently interested in chess - he can lay out the board, and knows the basic moves already (I expect he''ll get bored soon enough with chess), and he can almost write his name.

However, his attention span seems limited, and he loses interest quickly in things (he once enjoyed puzzles, but now is quite disinterested, and we don''t push him). I understand that every parent thinks their child is " gifted" , even if they are average, but it seems that he gets bored easily (or he could just have a typical attention span of a 4 year old) - we don''t know. The teacher is happy with him according to his report and what she tells us, but says he needs more time to mature because of being a December baby (this may well be the case, but the teacher is not entirely impartial).

Although for emotional reasons we also don''t want him to be the youngest in class (even if he passes a School Readiness Test), we are afraid that he will get bored if held back too long. What should we do?

Also, should we move him to another nursery for this year? My wife is worried that he will need to adjust, but I think that he will need to learn to adjust in any case, and his current playschool isn''t particularly equipped for 4-5 year olds who start grade R next year, if he does that.

Expert's Reply



You have set your question out very well. You certainly have a dilemma here. On the one hand your son shows every sign of being very bright indeed, certainly above average,but on the other hand he is still rather immature as one would expect for a 4 year old. While he would probably cope in grade R it would probably be in his best interests to wait another year. He would do well at a Montessori nursery school where children with his talents are recognised and catered for.

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