When is the right time for your child to start school?

I face this question in mother's groups all over the place and I hear similar stories and scenarios and advice each time. Keep them back. They won't do well if they start too young. I knew someone who... or My child started early and they aren't coping so you should wait an extra year. Sounds like sound advice, erring on the side of caution. 6 is a much better age to start school.

Is it?

Here's my story. I find every time I tell it I get into a lot of trouble because it's contrary to popular belief.
My oldest two children are in grades 2 and 3 at school. They are both doing very well. They both read well, write well and are advanced in their math skills. Not only that, they have many good friends at school. What's so strange about this?
Both my children turned 5 the year they started school. 
Grace turned 5 at the end of February but was reading simple words before she went which is fairly normal for a girl. She has never had a problem socially or academically. She does have a lazy streak and so remains an average student when she could really do much much better. 

My son, Justus, turned 5 in April! He was 4 and 9 months when he started school. For his whole prep year he was the youngest child in the school. With Justus I was concerned that he wasn't ready, he displayed no interest in learning and at home could barely sit still for 2 seconds...in fact come to think of it he still can't. What gave me a glimmer of hope was that the only way to get him to be still was to sit him down with a puzzle. By the time he went to school he could do 100 piece puzzles. Despite his lack of concentration at home he seemed to be able to sit still at kinder and his kinder teacher was confident that he would be fine, so was my husband.
Sure enough, within a term of starting school, Justus was reading and writing confidently and his teacher was impressed by his ability to concentrate and participate in class activities. We have heard nothing but rave reviews from teachers about Justus.

When people hear this they say that my children are just bright and are an exception to the norm. But I started school the year I turned 5 and I'm pretty average -  although it was a bit of a bummer having until after all my friends to get my licence. 

Sometimes I feel like Joshua and Caleb. I get beaten down every time I try to give an alternative to what's being said. 
Children start learning from the time they are born and we as their parents should not hamper them in their learning. If they ask to learn to read we shouldn't say 'wait until you go to school.' We should research and find out the best method to teach them. We shouldn't be afraid of teachers telling us we'll do it wrong. 
These are our children and we have a God given responsibility to ensure that they are learning and growing and not being put in a box of being a child who is too young to go to school and therefore too young to learn basic skills like reading and writing. God hasn't just given us a responsibility to teach our children spiritually He has given us the responsibility to teach our children in every facet of life. Teachers haven't been given that responsibility. We use teachers to ensure our children get taught correctly but we shouldn't heap all of the responsibility for our children's education in their laps.
 We should know and be aware of where our children are academically just like we should with their spiritual life. We should be seeing areas where our children need extra help or need to be challenged further and be stepping in and doing it not sitting back hoping that the teacher pick it up. 
At the end of the day if our children can read, write, spell and do maths we should not hold the school wholly accountable we should look at ourselves and what we did as parents. We shouldn't feel like we are dumb parents. We all went to school, we all learnt to read write and do math. If you don't feel confident, brush up, do some research.
Parenting is hard work but there is such joy in the fruit that comes from seeing your child engage in learning.

When my children are home from school sick I don't let them sit in front of the TV all day. They have two options.
  1. Go to bed and read a book
  2. Do some school work
I've found a great site for worksheets and there are some great workbooks that you can buy in the bookstore.

Okay, so I'm completely off my original topic.

Here's my conclusion because it's 11pm and I still have to load the washing machine with a load for tomorrow ( I love the timer setting on my washing machine:)).

You have a God given responsibility to educate your children and see to it that your children receive the best education that they can get. High academic scores are not the aim. Good solid foundational teaching should be. 
If your child can't read, how are they to read the bible. As a reward for learning to read our children receive their very own bible which they treasure and read.
A child is ready when they are ready not at some age that the government has appointed. That is just a guide. Some say the age should be older. But children at ages 3 - 5 are at this perfect age of wanting to learn, curious about everything. They are like sponges and many times we fail to take advantage of that because we don't think they are ready, or we don't think we are good enough to teach them. 
If you do decide to keep your child back for a year, what ever your reason, don't keep them from beginning to learn to read, write, count etc. Take advantage of having your child at home for another year and develop a relationship with them so that they can trust you to teach them things outside of school. 

It's so hard to decide when they are 3 whether or not you are going to send them to school or not because they change so much between 3 and 5. That's what happened to my son.

Don't just go with the flow. Pray diligently, listen to your own maternal instinct ask your husband, talk to the Sunday School teacher, creche teacher, wise friends and family (not always helpful).  

Watch your child, observe them closely, they may show hints that they are more ready than you realise.  

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