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 Post subject: School starting age
PostPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:17 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 12:06 pm
Posts: 2095
Location: Birmingham
Just thought I'd post this: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussio ... e-evidence

The evidence, not just from Cambridge but from other academic studies too, is quite compelling.
What seems clear us that an early start to formal learning damages academic advancement in many cases, and rarely supports it.


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 Post subject: Re: School starting age
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 11:02 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:59 pm
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Thanks for the link, um. Quite a few posters here have mentioned this before, not least Amber whose family took a year out to go travelling but whose eldest nevertheless posted a fairly spectacular set of GCSE and A level grades. Interesting that it is now gaining some properly researched backing from a reputable source…

Wonder if we will hear more about it, though, as it seems to run counter to current trends.


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 Post subject: Re: School starting age
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 1:06 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:56 pm
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It's so impossible to say because none of these studies are controlling for anything. They might be showing that something about the teaching and learning methods is better in those countries which have better outcomes at 11 than others rather than anything particularly about a "school starting age".

Just because education research comes from Cambridge it doesn't mean it's perfect. For example, I find a lot of things that Usha Goswami has said in earlier decades about the psychology of learning to read a bit illogical.

I know that personal anecdote is no use here, but the thing that I found bad for my own children in reception and KS1, was not necessarily the fact that they were made to sit down and write for a small amount of time most days (even though this was without adequate space, seating, teaching, activities to develop fine and gross motor skills or writing implements to engender good future writing habits) but the very poor and illogical way in which they were taught to read and the very poor content of the books that school provided.
A school which had focused on reading out loud to the children some well written fiction and non-fiction would, of course, have been way better, at any age, than one that taught them the basic skills rather badly. But this is a different argument. Sometimes though I think the school starting age research gets muddied by schools/countries that start young but don't make a good job of it. Maybe research that looks likely to conclude that a lot of English primary schools are poor and a child is better off staying at home with an educated parent, or starting school later in a different country, would probably not attract much funding.

We also need to adjust for the fact that English is more complex to learn to decode and spell correctly than many other languages.


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 Post subject: Re: School starting age
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 9:23 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:42 pm
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Location: Chelmsford and pleased
Children vary.


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 Post subject: Re: School starting age
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 9:21 am 
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 12:06 pm
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Location: Birmingham
I guess I seem to be running my own 'mini-experiment' on this one.
Having had 4 older children who started school at 4, my 5 and a half year old is still at home, playing and being read to, with no push at all towards formal learning.
He does have a penpal in Scotland (a 'different country' according to him :D ) which is the only thing he writes for at present (and oddly enough he can hold and control a pencil better than my 7 year old).
I can't even say it was a absolute decision that was firmly made - he just simply doesn't have a school and is third on the waiting list for our local one, which is just behind my back garden.
However, having come this far, I am starting to feel pretty convinced that this is better for him, long term.


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 Post subject: Re: School starting age
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 10:13 am 
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How nice for you. I bet it's lovely to have that extra time, since you are able to be there with him it's a perfect solution. I suppose if youre not able to be at home then he'd have had to go to a school further afield that had a place then move when he could?
I wish I'd kept my twins at home, who were 4 and two weeks. Both have done really well, both got GS places, but always felt it was too early, but was told if kept back from reception then they'd have gone straight into year 1 and not just started reception later, which I wanted.


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 Post subject: Re: School starting age
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 10:29 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 4:33 pm
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We also ended up doing things differently for each child. DD1 began school at 5.5 but only because there was only one place left. She then missed the odd term here and there as we moved house and didn't like the local schools much. We eventually had to pay when she was 9 as she was learning nothing in the State system (1st from Oxford). DD2 began school at 4.5 as she clearly needed to do so but having learnt to read and write very quickly she became very bored so we home educated for a while and soon after that we again had to pay to ensure she was not bored in year 4. (applying to cambridge for vet med). DS1 stayed at home until he was 7 but was hastily enrolled in a local school after telling us the books were boring! He now reads all the time having learnt to do so in a couple of weeks - its my theory and that of DD1 who is training to be a primary school teacher that stuff which takes children FOREVER to learn when they are 4+ takes a fraction of that time when they are 7. She also finds it offensive that so many children in year 2 (especially the boys) end up weeping and asking for their mothers during the school day only to be virtually ignored by the class teacher.
With the benefit of hindsight I would NEVER send a child of mine to any school before they were 7 and quite possibly not even then.


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 Post subject: Re: School starting age
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 11:30 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:08 pm
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Unfortunately the option to have a child not in school once they reach age 5 only exists for non working parents. Quality child care does not exist for 5 and overs during school hours. I would love to home educate DS2 at present but it is not a financial option, so I consider his primary school to be free child care and educate him at weekends, not ideal but my only option at the moment. If anyone would like to home educate him for me..........!
He started school at 4 years 11 months, desperate to learn and did well in KS1, unfortunately KS2 has not been as good. I dont think starting school later would have been the answer in his case, just a different junior school.


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 Post subject: Re: School starting age
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 8:37 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 12:06 pm
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Location: Birmingham
We were offered a school some distance away (and in the completely opposite direction to his older brother's school) which is truly dire and has been in and out of Special Measures for about 6 years.
I am genuinely lucky that I didn't have to send him there (with respect to the school, I felt that a full day of CBeebies could be more educational) but the reality in Birmingham - with a severe lack of school places - is that many parents have no choice :(
I do work so am lucky to be able to send him for some half-days to a friend who also home-educates and happens to be a qualified teacher. I also often work in the school holidays when he attends the holiday club at his older brother's school. Odd way of working - home in term time and at school in the holidays :D
Plus he can be quite calm when he wants to be, and will happily sit on the laptop on Reading Eggs or with some toys or a picture book next to me while I am working.
I appreciated the comments. I do agree that there is little point stressing a 4 year old out with academic work when the child can learn reading and writing skills quickly and simply at the age of 6 or 7. There's a fascinating Dispatches documentary available on a famous video sharing website called, 'Too much, too young' which supports this idea.
Since a reasonable state place is unlikely to be forthcoming in this city, we might end up sending him to Indie when he is 7.
Will see how the 'experiment' goes....


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 Post subject: Re: School starting age
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 9:24 pm 
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Posts: 11954
Why can't you get him in the school at the end of your garden when you want him to go? Surely there are few people nearer than you?

What a mad situation and so good that you have made it work for you.


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