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Is My Child Too Young to Start School? Our Moms Give their Advice

EDUCATION: Are you wondering if your child is the right age to start school? Our moms give their advice.

In Ireland, most children start national school at the age of four or five. Legally, children can be enrolled from the age of four, however some parents choose to wait until their child is older. Irish children must start their education by the age of six. Because of this, there could potentially be a two-year age gap between pupils, which could result in significant differences in development, maturity and social skills of the classmates.

In many cases the variety of ages can prove to be a benefit, encouraging younger children's language skills and development. However, some younger children may find themselves in a situation where they feel a little 'lost'. The risk here is that they fall behind and find it difficult to catch up. It is at this point that parents may opt to speak to their child's school about the possibility of keeping their child back a year to join a class of similar aged peers, which could raise its own issues around friendships and confidence.

However, with pros and cons to both sides, there can be no cut-and-paste rule for the perfect starting age – it all depends on the individual child. The preschool or montessori environment is a great starting point for children before going to 'big' school and will certainly help them prepare. If you feel your child is ready to start school, speak to their preschool teacher and get feedback on their classroom behaviour, abilities, social skills, comprehension and concentration levels. 

Can you help this mom?

One of our moms left a message on our Facebook page, asking about the best age for starting school.

Just querying what other parents have done regarding starting school for their June-born children. Thanks.

We had some great feedback and advice from the eumom community. Here is a selection to help other moms wondering about the same issue.

Advice from our moms:

"As a teacher, I would definitely wait the year. It will stand to the child long term, particularly when it comes to their social and emotional development."
 
"I run a preschool myself and have been involved in the early childhood sector for 15 years. I have a June baby and, from my experience, I will be waiting until she is five. There is a very different school curriculum in place now so it helps the child when they are a little older and when their brain is more developed. There's a vast difference in 12 months in children of this age."
 
"It depends very much on the child. My little girl was four in June and was getting bored in pre- school, so I started her in school and she is flying it."
 
"I'm English, so I grew up with the idea that you just go to school at four. My May baby will be going this year and will be four. Unless you honestly believe that a child will not cope with school, then I believe you should send them."
 
"I started my little boy at the age of four. I ended up keeping him back a year. Best decision I ever made. I would definitely recommend waiting the extra year."
 
"I teach Infants. Please send summer babies when they are five! A very young child might fly through Infants, but then struggle in the Middle and Senior classes. There's also the social side to think of – their friends could be driving/getting into nightclubs over a year before they are."
 
"My little girl is a late June baby and I sent her when she was four. She is in first class now and has no problems at all. My baby is also a June baby and I will be sending him when he reaches four too. No harm in trying, because you always have the option of keeping them back a year if you feel they are not able.
How old was your child starting school? Do you plan on sending your child when they are four or five? Leave a comment below and give your advice to other moms.

About the Author

Editor of eumom.ie, Mairéad Cahalan is a creator of content, a lover of music, red wine and coffee, and a part-time wedding singer! Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and LinkedIn.

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