A report released by the English Institute for Fiscal Studies states that the odds stacked against summer-born babies. The study looked at seven-year-old, summer-born children and determined that August-born children are:
This is not surprising when you consider that the child born in August is almost a year younger than their classmates.
The rules for when a child begins school states that a child reaches compulsory school age at the beginning of the term following their fifth birthday. According to the Department of Education, as a parent, you have the choice of a place in reception classes from the September following your child’s fourth birthday so that your child can prepare for school. And, if you choose to defer entry, you can continue to access your entitlement to fifteen hours a week of free early education in a setting of your choice.
So, what should you do if you have a summer-born child? As a parent, you know your own child and their level of maturity. If you think your child is ready to begin their formal education, by all means, go ahead and enrol them. However, if your child shows signs of not being ready, such as a short attention span or behaviour characteristic of a very young child, it might be best to delay their enrolment.
If you are concerned at the prospect of your summer-born child starting school too early, ask to delay for a year. This is legally your right – children do not have to be in education until the term after their fifth birthday. However, if you delay, you forfeit the right to a place in reception.
Some experts believe that allowing some children to delay starting school can be unfair those who are not summer-born babies, because the other children become the youngest in the class. Their reasoning is that while delayed entry may give an individual child an advantage, it does nothing to help the others. However, age is not as important as level of maturity. If all children start on equal footing as far as maturity and readiness for learning are concerned, it makes sense that the class as a whole will benefit.
As a parent, ultimately you must decide what educational options are best for your child. This includes when to enrol your summer-born child. As a parent, making the best decisions for your child is never easy. However, with some understanding of the possible negative effects of early enrolment for your summer-born child as well as knowing the laws surrounding your decision, you will be prepared to make the best decision for your child – one that will make their school years more enjoyable and provide for future success.