Saturday 19 October 2019

Dear David Coleman: 'My son is due to start school but I'm also expecting another baby soon. Should I wait to send him when he is 6?'

David Coleman answers your parenting questions

Picture posed
Picture posed

Q: My little boy will be five at the start of November. My family and in-laws expect me to send him to school in September. He is an anxious little boy who doesn't like change at all. I'm expecting another baby at the beginning of October. I worry that it will be too much for him all at once, but don't know if I'm mad to keep him at playschool for another full year?

A: There is no doubt that starting in "big" school and becoming an older brother (after nearly five years of being an only child) are both massive changes for your son. You already have a sense, from him, that he gets anxious and that he finds it hard to adjust to change. That means that he may need more support from you to be able to manage that change.

You have no control over the timing of his new sibling's arrival, but you do have control over the date that he starts school. I have always been in favour of letting children reach the age of five before starting school as I think they are more likely to be developmentally ready for the social, emotional and academic demands that it brings.

Considering these factors it may make sense to wait till September 2020 to start school, as you are more likely to be more emotionally available to help him with adjusting to brotherhood this year, then school next year.

It sounds like such a decision may upset your extended family, but your focus needs to be on your son and his needs, not on theirs. You get to decide about your son, not them.

Irish Independent

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