DO you know the minimum age a child must be in order to be eligible for primary school?
They ‘must be turning 5 by the end of July the year they start school’.
Turning 5. Not five. Not five and-a-half. Turning five.
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And what about the ambiguity in the law there? I am surprised they didn’t include ‘and must eat a rainbow paddle pop every second Sunday, on one foot, facing west’.
But don’t worry. Parents spend their entire lives worrying, fussing and hoping their actions have given their kids the ‘best start’ in life, so despite the (ridiculously) stupid legislation, I am sure there are no 4 year olds at primary school.
After all, just because you can do something does not mean that you should.
Wrong. Every year in Australia we have kids starting school too young to have learnt (if I may borrow from an Adam Sandler film here) ‘the social skills’.
Here in Queensland we have Prep, and it is about as comprehensive and useful as the warranty of a dodgy Phuket watch dealer.
In Finland, kids must turn 7 (yes seven!) the year they start school. It is a non-negotiable, it is not an ‘I think little Johnny is super ready he is the smartest 4 ½ year old I know’ and it is certainly not free childcare.
By the time a child six they are not only really ready to learn and engage with content but they have the added advantage of not wanting to wee themselves, do a sporadic cartwheel every six minutes or generally be disruptive in class.
Stats don’t lie. Finland is first in the world for education.
Even if we jumped the age to ‘must turn 6 the year they start’ the difference would be unquantifiably positive.
When kids are good at school, they enjoy it.
Conversely, if little Suzie is getting in trouble every five minutes for crying, kicking, screaming and/or biting her classmates, she will not enjoy herself.
That feeling, how kids perceive school, is almost impossible to break. A naughty kid in kindy is invariably a naughty kid in grade one. And so on.
So parents, just because you CAN send little Timmy to school a year early, does not mean you should. In fact you most certainly should not.
But I only half blame parents. The rest of the blame must fall to law-makers too stupid or cowardly to create a law that may inconvenience mum’s shopping day but be absolutely essential for the education of the nation.
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