We’ve reached a strange milestone in this household. At four years and two months, Izzy, our youngest daughter, has just reached the age her older sister was when she started school. In other words, we’re preparing to jump on the ‘starting school’ roller coaster all over again.
For Mrs Adams and I, this has been a real eye-opener. It came up in conversation several times over the Christmas break.
Why so? Well, reaching this milestone shows just how different both our children are. If I’m honest, it also makes me feel a little uncomfortable that most kids in England start school at the age of four.
When Helen started school, she was ready for it, despite being one of the youngest in her school year. She was painting, mark making and had an extraordinary capacity to learn. Aided by some fantastic teachers (we have been very lucky with the teachers she has had) it’s a capacity that grown the longer she has spent in the education system.
Izzy is a completely different character to her sister. It’s only in the past couple of months she’s shown any interest in mark making or writing. She loves having stories read to her, but isn’t showing much interest in learning how to read.
Whereas Helen, from the youngest age, would ask about news and current affairs and listen intently as I tried to explain the most complex issues, Izzy shows no interest whatsoever. Conversely, however, you can parachute Izzy into a room full of strangers and she will make friends immediately. Helen, meanwhile, is more reserved.
One of my biggest concerns is that Izzy is once again having naps in the afternoon. This is something we phased out ages ago but we’ve had to re-introduce nap time as she was getting too tired and grumpy in the evenings.
I have heard this can be a big concern for parents who have children born in July or August. Their children, barely four years old, start school when they were used to having a nap and it comes as something as a shock to them.
While Izzy isn’t a summer baby, I have concerns about phasing the nap out again. I know we have months to do it, but that time will fly.
Will we send Izzy to school at the age of four? Yes, of course we will. In the hot-house environment of school, I suspect Izzy’s academic side will shine through.
Even so, I can’t help looking at my youngest and wondering if she is really going to be ready for it by September. I guess this is both a benefit and a curse of having been through this once already.
With Helen, we were naïve and blithely packed her off to school without too many concerns. Having seen the successes and struggles Helen had, I suppose it’s natural to worry a little more for Child Number Two.
There’s another way to look at this. Later this year my youngest child will start school. This will represent a huge change for the entire family, something I wrote about in this blog post. It begs the question: is your youngest child ever ready to start school?
I’ll have a go at answering that myself. The youngest child may be ready to go, but are the parents ready to send them?