My daughter started school too young
Starting school a year early was not the right choice for my highly intelligent child, says this mom.
When she was just 5 years old, Zoe King’s pre-primary teacher suggested that the bright little girl start school early. Looking back now in her matric year, Zoe’s mom, Kayla, answers our questions and explains why she would not make the same choice again.

Who first suggested Zoe should start school a year early? The pre-primary teacher based on Zoe’s completed school readiness tests.

What were your first thoughts and feelings about this? As a parent one feels at first proud that your child is school ready at the age of 5 (Zoe turned 6 in grade 1 as opposed to 7).

What tests were done and who did them?  The school performed the required government stipulated school readiness tests.

How was her first experience of school? She enjoyed school and at first her age did not cause any concerns.

However later on we realised as they grow older age becomes a factor. For example the children in her class became interested in boys and she was not at the same level or like in grade 11 many learners wrote their learners licence and she couldn’t.  

Now, in matric, many learners are preparing for their drivers while she still cannot even get her learner’s licence.

What are the negative aspects of her having started school early? I believe that Zoe puts more pressure on herself to achieve top position than she would have if she was with her own age group.

Also, she was never able to play sports with her class mates as she was always in a younger aged sports team.  This does affect the relationships within the class as the other classmates bond on the sports field and in class whereas her bonding with her classmates was only in class.  She sometimes feels that she doesn’t fit in.

What are the positive aspects? She is not bored in class.

If you could do it again, would you keep her in preschool for another year?  Most definitely!  My reason for this is that my child would not be as pressurised as she is now.  She would breeze through school so much easier if I had just kept her in preschool another year.  

What should other parents bear in mind when deciding if their clever child is school ready?  While you feel proud that your child is able to go to school earlier, try to think of the future years when maturity sets in, or when your child perhaps is placed 2nd in class or the grade as opposed to their rightful first place.  

Also, let them enjoy their carefree preschool days as far as possible because the projects, school homework and tests/exams they face in later years adds a considerable amount of pressure.

Do you believe clever children should start school a year early?

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