Fjord turns 6 this year, he is meant to start Gr 1 in the year that he turns 7. He started Gr 1 this week. We gave a lot of thought to making this decision, time will tell if it was the correct one. Our feeling is that when children are younger they are so open to learning and so hungry for mental stimulation. Although I am a stay at home Mum and give him as much attention as possible, it is not quite enough. From 2 months old I took Fjord to Mums and Babes. From 1 year old he went to Moms and Tots, then later a non franchise class Mums and Bunnies which unfortunately closed. He also went to Clamber Club and Kindermusik all of these programmes were fantastic and highly recommended. Last year he was in a combined class of Gr 0 and 00, he coped well with the work, in fact his results were exceptional. The ages in his class were mixed and he got along best with the older children.
In our view the school starting age in South Africa is too old, children get bored and stagnate when not properly stimulated. In many other countries the starting age is much younger, in some cases maybe too young, but that is another debate. At his current age, learning is fun, it is not something to be baulked at.
There are possible pitfalls to our decision. His peers will always be older than him, this may become a challenge in coming years when we wish to continue to preserve his innocence. There may be more likelihood of bullying. The gr 1 work is more challenging which means that this year will be less play than would have been the case if he were in Gr 0. His age may affect his sporting activities as he will not be on quite the same physical level as the majority.
We believe that Fjord has an above average IQ, at age 3 he was doing 80 and 100 piece puzzles, he does lego and meccano far above the recommended age. His thinking is creative and logical. We are however aware that most parents think their children are smart and above average, he is one of very many with similar capabilities. What we want to do is nurture his natural abilities. We did not make our decision based on our assessment of him, we based it on the perception that children of his age are generally ready for Gr 1 and will benefit from slightly advanced learning.
Fjord has only been at ‘big’ school for 3 days but has settled in very well. There were no tears or drama on the 1st day, he is happy and making friends. Parenting is tough, you never really know if you are making the right choices or decisions, everything you do is laden with responsibility. We can only hope that the choices we make are the right ones.
What are your views on school starting age?