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Mums' Advice: Is My Little One Ready For Primary School?

It might seem only a moment ago that you had a newborn, and suddenly you have to think about school?

As your child approaches a milestone such as starting primary school, it can be difficult to judge when they are ready.

So when one mum recently asked our amazing community about whether or not to enrol her child in ‘big’ school, there was some great advice for her:

"Hi Mums. Can anyone please advise me? My little boy is currently in playschool for his second year. He is turning five in June. He is the happiest child but I feel he is not ready for big school. He is very young for his age and maybe babied a little. He really has no interest in going to 'big' school just yet.

My question is should I delay sending him to school and let him attend playschool for a third year or should I let him go and should he struggle keep him back next year? I would really appreciate advice from anyone that has experienced this before. Thank you."

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Go for it

Karen: I think send your little boy to big school in September: Better for him in the long run. He would be better off in big school around kids his own age, and this will make all the difference. I know it's a hard decision for you as the Mom letting him off, most especially if it’s your first and new to you.

Michelle: My daughter is going to be five in August. Like that, she has no real interest in big school, and she says herself she wants to stay small! But she’s going in September as Montessori isn't going to teach her much more, and some very young kids starting there now with the new age limits, so she would just stay babied like your lad...I got her older sister uniform out and put on her last week and that got her bit excited and she has school introduction last week and was happy enjoy...she's not going to be running into school in September like her sister did, but can't stay small forever either unfortunately. Good luck with your decision!

Siobhan: I thought my little guy wasn't ready either but once he was in there, he came out of himself and amazed me in months. Sometimes you just have to let them go.

Deirdre: Definitely send him, if you delay him he will be six starting and there will be four-year-olds in his class, may cause a lot of future difficulties. Junior infants brings kids on no end, also try bringing him on more yourself now in preparation for September let him do certain things himself that you would usually do, he may surprise you at just how ready he is.

Jane: I'm a preschool teacher and keeling him in the same class for 3 years will not help him mature. I'd send him to school in September and work on giving him a bit more independence over the next few months: 3 months is a massive amount of time in a five-year-olds life to help them mature. He's got two years of preschool under his belt, so he'll be well able to settle into Primary. I wouldn't go over the top talking to him about big school, as they get anxious very easily and three months of anxiety building won't help him either.

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Don’t rush

Marian: Most schools don't keep children back anymore. If you feel he's not ready don't send him.

Jane: ...Either way, you're his mammy and mammy knows best.

Karen: You know your child best, so I'd go with your gut feeling. I see kids at the school entrance crying cos they don't want to go in, and it's always the younger in the class.

Aoife: Schools don't hold kids back anymore. I sent my daughter when she was 4 and it was a big mistake. She struggles with maths & reading a lot, and I feel she's a little younger than the rest. I wish I had of kept her back in playschool. But I felt she was ready. If you don't think he's ready don't send him. There's a kid in my daughter’s class that was six joining and you wouldn't know he is any bigger age wise.

Leah: You know what's best for your child... children in Scandinavian countries don't start school until they are seven and are outperforming our children by the time they are 12 because they have had time to emotionally mature before starting formal education... just make sure you have a good preschool that will nurture his interests and build his confidence.

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Find out more

Elizabeth: Have a chat with his teachers in preschool and see what they think. I’d be inclined to send a child who’s five in June, but maybe talking to the preschool would reassure you. My daughter was five in June and is finishing Junior infants next month, and some of the children in her class were only turning five in February/March/April; so if you keep your son back until he’s six he may be almost two years older than some classmates. Best of luck with your decision!

Clodagh: The preschool teacher will know best. As far as I know, children have to be in national school on their 6th birthday, so this could be where a problem arises, that said 100% do what you think is right. Going by early intervention services the recommended age is 5 years and older…

Fiona: My little fella is turning five in August and he's starting school in September. I was very nervous about him starting, until I met with the school teachers and principal and was shown around, and I feel much better about him now. Most schools are fantastic and are happy to meet up and talk about any reservations you might have. You should give them a ring and arrange a show around before the end of term that might help put you at ease.

Pauline: I am sending my little girl in September she will be four and a half: The advice I was given was if she can open her own lunch box, and self caring for toiletting purposes they will work on the rest. I suppose it also depends on class size. Speak with the Montessori teachers and the intended school principle. I am going to work on things over the summer making her more independent, so there is time to less baby him. Best of luck with your decision!

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So what do you think? Leave a comment below


About the Author

Emily is our Digital Editor. She has three awesome nieces, and has accidentally worn the same outfit as them on at least one occasion. Emily likes making things, including hand-drawn cards, and a darn good chocolate cake. She still sounds very English, despite living in Dublin for the last nine years. More insight into the workings of her brain can be found on dancingcakesandsilence.blogspot.com.

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