how do you know if your child is ready for "big school"?

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    Hi all and hello again, it’s been ages since I was on here and as usual am looking for advice.
    We have a 4.5 year old little boy who is still quite babyish and we’re really not sure if he’s ready for school. He’s our eldest so needless to say, we’re all punching in the dark.
    Any idea’s on how to know when they’re ready?
    thanks very much


    It depends on so many things….

    Is he tall for his age? Sometimes a child who is 4 can be grand in big school if they are quite tall as they are level in height with some of the 5 year olds and this can be to their advantage.

    Does he get on well with other kids and make friends easily? If he is good socially at making friends he may be grand. If he is a little shy, it can be difficult to adjust to big school

    How is his speech? Our son’s speech was not great when he was 4, he struggled with his ‘K”s and could not pronounce certain words and even his grandparents found it hard to understand some of his words, so we felt this would be a disadvantage to him and we waited until he was 5 to send him to school.

    For us, our son was 4 in May so he would have been 4 and 4 months starting school and with his speech not being great and him being shy and the fact he was not very tall for his age – we decided based on all that, to wait until he was 5 to send him.

    I think we made the right decision for him but each child is different. Some adjust really well and some take longer to settle and it is often the 4 year olds who take longer to settle in.

    What does your gut tell you?


    Hi Sabbi and thanks for the advice.

    My gut keeps changing her mind (if that’s possible). He seems to have two out of your three. His speech is really good and he is quite tall for his age but socially, he lacks confidence and is very shy. I think he’s always going to be the type of child to just have one or two close friends rather than a circle and that’s fine but he really does not make an effort with other children if he isn’t immediately drawn to them.

    He’s extremely clingy to the extent that he won’t play out the back garden unless one of us are outside too. He is still really innocenttoo and needs a lot of reassurance and confidence boosting. We’re both trying to cut the apron strings at the moment and it’s really tough for our son.

    His birthday is end of December so would be almost 6 starting if we keep him till next year. Also, he’s just finishing his ECCE playschool year so not sure if keeping him back a year at home would do more harm than good.

    Having said that though, we don’t want to push him into what could be a terrifying ordeal for him.

    This is such a tough one…………….


    My dd1 is a november child and at 4 and 10months starting she is actually one of eldest in the class. I never thought of keeping her a year. Have you spoken to his playschool teachers? what do they think?

    my younger dd is 4 next week and she’s not going in September, mainly because the school’s rule is 4 in the spring before she starts (and i’m actually quite happy with that) but i know some who have sent their littles ones in the september after only turning 4 in the june/july. 2/3 of my dd2’s friends who also turn 4 next month are going in Sept – but at the end of the day it’s a personal choice.

    To be honest i’d send him – maybe talk to his teachers and to the school you intend sending him to and see what they think?


    Ah, he is older than I thought – he will be nearly 5 in Sept and as he is tall and his speech is good then he has an advantage and may well be ready for it this year.

    Its hard to send them when you are worried they are shy but he is much nearer to being 5 and than 4 so it might be best for him to go now – much as its hard to ‘cut the apron strings’.

    Going this Sept would mean he has to socialise and often when kids are in that situation, they thrive. He will be in the same age group as the children in his class this year whereas if you wait a year, he will be nearly 6 and will be in with kids who are only4 and that could make him feel too big for his class?

    Its a tough one alright…

    Our son was very shy when he started and has come on leaps and bounds socially. He was so quiet when we first sent him and I used to worry alot about how he was interacting but the school he goes to is brilliant and he is doing so well. He is really popular now and has loads of friends, thank goodness.

    Its always emotional sending them to big school – we all worry about if we are doing the right thing at the right time but I’m sure you’ll make the right decision.

    Motherhood – it’s never easy!


    Thanks for the replies girls. You’ve both helped us to make the decision to send him this year. Playschool have saidthat if he was a bit younger, they’d keep him back because although he’s fine academically, he is behind socially. However, as you’ve said, school might be just what he needs to come out of his box so to speak.
    Thanks very much, we both really appreciate you taking the time to reply.
    beamam and DH!!


    I think this is one of the hardest decisions that we ever have to make!

    We went through this with our daughter, she was 4 in June and we sent her in September – everyone said she was too quiet and shy… academically she is great, she is still quiet – but that is her personality.. she wasn’t very confident but school helped her with that.

    Glad you have made your decision though!


    That’s a weight off your shoulders now you have made the decision.

    Try not to worry, most kids settle in fine after a while. Our son was so quiet when we started, he used to wrap himself around my leg or my husband’s leg but now a few years on, he is a cheeky little scamp, has loads of friends and is very sociable in and out of school. It was very positive for him.

    Glad to be able to help.

    And on the topic of school, M&S just launched their school uniforms in store this week and they have 20% off at the moment, so now ifs a good time to buy. 🙂


    ah glad you’ve made a decision – there is alittle one in my dd’s class and she is very very quiet…..yet when she’s on her own with her friends it’s like a different child – she was her one day and the girls where upstairs i was amazed listening to the little one chat and laugh as ordinarly she really doesn’t say much – school may well help him come out of his shell and he may just be a quiet child. Best of luck and enjoy the whole getting ready for school …we tried to make it exciting for my dd, we used to drive past the school occassionaly, she "helped" picking her uniform and putting the labels on books etc.involve your little man as much as you can and it may make it less daunting for him…… i swear i think it’s harder on the mammies – when dd1 started she didn’t give me a backward glance i barely made it to the car before crying 🙄 😉

    As Sabbi and the school said if he was nearer the 4 i would possibly think about giving him a 2nd yr in playschool but as he’ll be almost 5 starting i’d let him go… he’ll be fine xo

    Yvonne i’m so glad the school rules made the deicision for me with dd2 being a june baby – some of my friends with june kids have spent the last few months going back and forth trying to decide whether to send them or not – the majority are waiting until 2014 but there are a few starting in sept. Glad to hear your dd is doing well, my firends little one started at the same age in blessington and she do is doing great.

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