Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 28 Aug 2008

How can we help support our son who is starting school this autumn aged just four and two months?

Hillary's Advice

Itís not good news that so many children in this country have to start school as they turn four, but since you find yourself in this position you are wise to think about the issues that could arise.

First of all, donít assume that because your son is young he will struggle. Much depends on temperament, and he may turn out to be a child who loves school and never looks back.

However four is very young to cope with a long day of activities, so be aware that he may come out of school worn out. Keep after-school activities to a minimum, and give him lots of time to relax and be himself. If being very grown-up at school means that he wants to regress and be quite babyish when heís at home, donít be surprised or reproving. Itís a phase and will pass.

Make sure his teacher is aware of his young age -- some teachers donít know their new pupilsí ages Ė and tell her about any worries you might have. Make it clear you want your son to develop at his natural pace, and hold in mind -- although only to yourself -- that children with summer birthdays can sometimes get wrongly labelled as having special educational needs as they go through school just because they are young in their class and lagging behind the older children.

However donít ever try to force him to read and write before heís ready. Instead make sure his life is rich with games, songs, rhymes, play, stories Ė and lots of love.