Why you don’t need to worry about sending your summer born child to primary school

Why you don’t need to worry about sending your summer born child to primary school

January 15th 2018 is a very important date for lots of parents, it is the deadline for submitting your child’s school admission form. Applying for your child’s place at primary school can be a stressful and anxious time for lots of parents: choosing which school to put as your first choice, will the school with the best OFSTED report be in your catchment area and where will you find the time to go to all the open days? There is a lot to consider and think about and, usually, this is a time of heightened emotions too as sending your baby off to big school is a massive step for the parents as well as their child.  The anxiety surrounding your little one starting school can often be a lot worse if you have a summer baby. Leo’s birthday is in August, when we were first notified we needed to apply for his school place in November 2016, he had only been three for a few months and it all felt like everything was happening too soon. I was worried about him being the youngest in his class and there were fleeting moments when I considered holding him back a year. Leo has recently completed his first term of primary school and I am so glad we decided not to hold him back. If you have a summer born child due to start school in September, here is why you don’t need to spend so much time worrying. I definitely could have done with reading a positive story about a summer born child starting school when I was filling out Leo’s admissions form, wondering if I was doing the right thing, so I hope this post brings you some reassurance.

Why you don’t need to worry about sending your summer born child to primary school.

You know your child better than anyone else in the whole world and when it is time to apply for school simply listen to your gut instinct and your mother’s intuition, what is it telling you? Leo started pre school when he was two and a half and by the time school admissions came flying around I knew that, despite being so young, he was ready. Leo thrived at pre school, he grew from an angry toddler into a clever, sociable little boy and, yes my amazing parenting played a part in that (!), but it is thanks to mixing with other children his age and being in a teacher lead environment that really boosted Leo’s confidence and aided his development. After witnessing how much he had changed and grown thanks to his time at pre school, when I sat down to fill in his school admissions form I knew what I was doing was for the best, although that didn’t mean I didn’t sometimes question my decision.

Here in the UK, parents of children born between  April 1st and August 31st are able to request that their child does not start school in the September after they turn 4 and instead start the following year. However, after a little research, I have discovered that many schools and councils will not allow a summer born child to start reception class in the following year, instead they have to go straight into year 1. There are plans to change this though, Schools Minister Nick Gibb has called for change, making it so summer born children are able to start school in reception when they are five so as not to miss out on that important first year of learning at school. It is down to each school and local council admissions team to decide what year group your child will be placed in if you defer their school place for a year, if this is something you are considering then it is best to make an appointment with the schools you are applying for and see what their procedures are in this kind of situation. I found that knowing I didn’t have to legally send Leo to school at 4 if I felt he wasn’t ready really helped take the stress away, it was a lovely little comfort blanket cushioning the whole process, like just knowing that option was there if I changed my mind was enough to give me the confidence to fill out his form.

After a very very minor wobble of am I doing the right thing? , Leo started school in September, drowning in his giant school jumper and trousers hanging on for dear life around his waist but full of as much excitement and enthusiasm as all the September born children in his class. The first few weeks were tough though, I am not going to lie to you, by the end of each day Leo was exhausted and grumpy and so very emotional. All this socialising, playing and full on learning was definitely taking it’s toll on him and there were a few afternoons, after yet another meltdown on the car journey home, that I questioned my decision – maybe he was too young for this? There were a few occasions too where I was greeted with stories of Leo’s misbehaviour from his teacher at school pick up. Leo went through a spell of a few weeks in his first term of biting. hitting, pinching and just generally not being very kind to the other children in his class. Every time the teacher came and had a quiet word with me I just wanted to cry, we went through all of this when Leo was 2 but by the time he finished pre school these behaviours were a distant memory – or so I thought.


The one thing that reassured me the most during this time was his teacher telling me that, as the youngest in the class, Leo’s behaviour was something they sort of expected and I really didn’t need to worry. I repeatedly asked the teacher at what point would this behaviour no longer be considered ‘acceptable’ because of his age and she said if things hadn’t settled down by Christmas we would need to talk about the steps we could take to make things better. Things got better though and looking back now I can see that Leo was acting up because he was overwhelmed, just like when he was a toddler in a situation out of his control, he would lash out as that was his way of dealing with his feelings. I also found it really reassuring, whilst in the thick of all the biting and hitting dramas, to know that if it was needed, Leo could perhaps do less hours at school for a while until he felt more settled. His teacher suggested if the bad behaviours continued he could perhaps just do mornings for a little while, the majority of these incidents happened in the afternoon when he was tired, or we could find another way of reducing the hours he spent in school each week.

Luckily, as if by magic, everything clicked into place. The teacher was no longer having quiet words with me in the playground, the screaming grumpy child on the car ride home disappeared and Leo started to really thrive at school. He has just returned now for the January half term and I would go as far as to say that he loves school. He is reading, learning his numbers, trying to write and developing loads more skills and, seeing him as he is now, I can’t imagine him still being in pre school. Despite the sometimes living hell that was that first term, I stand by my decision to send Leo to school as an August born baby. I have seen children who are already five screaming and hanging off their parents legs in the morning, I have had conversations with parents of older children who are struggling with their phonics and have heard from the parents of five year olds that their kids are also exhausted after  a day of school, just like Leo is. Whilst some research has found that summer born children can tend to be behind when it comes to things like literacy and are more often considered as having special learning needs than their older peers, this isn’t always the case. Leo, at not even four and half, is thriving at school and every time he reads a book to me or smashes it at his counting games, I know he is right where he needs to be. Yes, his five year old friends may be doing these things even better than Leo but that doesn’t bother me and clearly isn’t bothering his teachers either, who now only have positive things to say about him.

As a mum who did have moments of worry and anxiety when applying for her summer born child to start school, all I can say to you is YOU KNOW BEST. The legal time for your child to start school is the term after they turn five, so if you really feel in your heart that your four year old isn’t ready for primary school then you can hold them back. If you are not sure on what to do for the best, speak to your child’s pre school staff about what they think, I am sure they would have had summer born children in their care on countless occasions and will be able to tell you from a more teaching professional side of things how your little one is getting on and whether they think they are ready to hit the classroom in September. I am a firm believer in following gut and if it is telling you that your child just isn’t ready for this next step then it is probably right. You know how your child copes in certain situations and you are the one who has watched them grow and develop over the years, therefore, you are the person most qualified to decide whether they are ready to start their school journey when they are four or if holding back until they are five is the right thing to do.

Useful further reading ..

Summer born children: school admissions document

Confusion over summer born starting age 

Summer born children to get the right to start school later

Is your summer born child due to start school this September? Have you considered holding them back or do you feel, at age 4, that they at ready? If you have a summer born child already in school, how are they getting on? Do you feel like by being almost a year younger than some of their classmates that their education and development has suffered? I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you liked this post you may also enjoy reading..

Everything I learnt from my son’s first term at primary school

Starting primary school – the mummy bloggers guide

I miss you now you’re at school

Back to school essentials with Spider-Man and the Disney Store

10 lessons I’ve learnt from my son’s first year at pre school

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  1. January 11, 2018 / 9:34 am

    We were in this position with our now 12-year-old son, who was born in June. He had been fine in creche/playschool so we booked him in to start school aged just four. First we were told we would not have a place for him, and we were okay with that, then we were told he had, and we were okay with that too! It has worked out fine. It has meant several team-mates on his soccer teams are a year behind him in school even though they are the same age, or even older than him. Other than that, he has been fine and started secondary school this year. His first school report was fine and he is doing well in all areas. So, I suppose it just depends on the kid!

  2. January 16, 2018 / 11:59 am

    It is fascinating to read this as someone from far away where our summers are over Christmas time. Here when they start school in late Jan or Feb depending on the school, public go back earlier than private school. Our children do a year of kindergarten and then start school. If however the child doesn’t seem ready for school they simply repeat kinder no big deal. Most parents are encouraged to start their children when they are five turning 6 during their first year. Aspen started and turned 6 in the May, April turned 6 in April and Adam 6 in September. The way the cut off works here, if you are born after May first you have to start at 5 turning 6, legally. So with April I had the choice to send her younger as she is born before may 1st, however I chose to keep her home another year as she was a very clingy, introverted child, it worked out perfectly for us. I am glad things are woking out great for Leo now, he is super cute in his photo too! Thank you so much for joining us #abloggingoodtime
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…I muttered “I can’t take this anymore”!My Profile

  3. January 17, 2018 / 10:53 am

    My youngest was born on the 29th of August and is the youngest in her class. She has done well and to an extent has caught up with the rest of the kids in her class to a point but now with her being in Year 6 she’s struggling and it annoys me so much. She is being compared to the other kids in her class who are almost a year older than her. She turned 10 and someone in her class turned 11 three days later. The teachers seem to forget this now…I would have loved to have kept my girl back a year but it wasn’t an option with our school…
    I am so pleased your boy has settled into school and is doing well 😀
    Kim Carberry recently posted…Hot chocolate made a few different ways….My Profile

  4. January 17, 2018 / 6:27 pm

    This is a great post and a must read for any parent of a summer born. My eldest was born in May and I have to admit I had concerns too, it does seem awfully young for a 4 year old to be going to school but like you I needn’t have worried. Alfie settled really well and thrived, we had the tiredness and grumps in the afternoon too, in fact we sometimes do haha but it really was the best thing for him to go to school. I really enjoyed reading this post, thanks for linking up to #BloggersBests

  5. February 2, 2018 / 6:28 am

    So in Scotland it is slightly different with those born between Christmas and he end of February having the option of deferral but in essence the same. My daughter turned 4 in January and is also on the smaller end of the growth chart so when people started mentioning sporting events and quite how disheartening this might be I was considering deferral all over again! However, that now seems a silly reason compared to her intelligence both emotional and intellectual being more than ready. So in summary, we are going in!

  6. February 3, 2018 / 9:23 am

    Some very interesting and practical advice. Thank you.

  7. May 1, 2018 / 2:15 pm

    My little boy is a July baby and whilst very bright, he is also quite shy and still struggling with going to the toilet. I think we are very much ‘see how it goes’ – if he is struggling I am confident the school we have chosen is a supportive one and will work with us. It’s all a big learning journey on this parenting path isn’t it?!

  8. September 1, 2018 / 2:25 pm

    Amazing article! My son is born end of August so he was the youngest in the class last year. He struggled as there weren’t many summer borns in his class, but he did fine.
    As you explained, we sent him because we were told he’d have to go to year 1 the next year, which would have been harsher!
    Sorry to hear Leo had some up’s and down’s but glad that he’s doing well now. Rest assured, I got many phone calls from the school- similar sort of stuff. You’re not alone!

  9. October 9, 2018 / 6:32 am

    “There is evidence that some children who have just turned four are not developmentally ready for the current reception curriculum,” says Tammy Campbell, researcher at the University of London’s Institute of Education (IoE).

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