Sharon Witt Talks About When To Send Your Kids To School
DJ: A difficult question that many parents face, and grandparents as well, how old, or how young should you send your kids to school? At what age should you send your kids to school? Sharon Witt, educator and youth commentator joins us. Hello Sharon.
SHARON WITT: Hello Clayton, hi Misha, how are you doing?
CLAYTON: This is something a lot of people are torn about. A lot of people get torn about this one.
SHARON WITT: Absolutely. You know, I know that when my own children, I have teenagers now, but when they were young, you know, if you’ve got a September baby you’re pretty well set. You know that they can start so that the following year when they turning 6 years or five. But I have a child turning five right on the cut off or beginning of school. And that was actually quite difficult because we’ve got the new kinder and all. In Melbourne it’s actually, it’s kinder garden, I think we have pre-school as well. But you know, he was in pre-school and you know, it got to the end of the year of pre-school when he was going into starting school and he was just about to turn five and it was kindalike what the teacher said to me, “but you know what, we think he needs another year at pre-school”. And I was like “Oh my goodness.
It was really just about them being a bit more social and these pre-school years are really important. We don’t need to rush our kids into getting in school, because once they are in the school system, things become, you know, very clear if their not quite ready.
DJ: And every kids gonna be different aren’t they?
SHARON WITT: They are. Every child is different. And I actually teach secondary school and I am actually seeing the unsullied state once they get to secondary school. They might sort of, make their way through a primary school and stumble through. But I’m noticing, I teach grade 9 at the moment, so you know that’s third year high school, and you can have anywhere between a fourteen and a sixteen year old in your classroom in one year level. And you really do notice the difference between those children that started really early and those ones that had started late.
DJ: So, are the ones that started early more advanced?
SHARON WITT: Well, yeah. They are generally, generally the ones that have started early, they can have, you know, difficulty in socializing and also just that they’ve kind of always been a little bit behind the age border, if that makes sense. But that’s not always the case. When I started school, I was born third quarter and that was the norm back then. But that was a long time ago.
DJ: So, does that now mean that, it has changed, hasn’t it? See I was four, I was a May baby, and I was four turning five
DJ2: Also, you were very young when you started then.
DJ1: Yeah, I feel young. But my kids, they went as five year olds, the twins and their July babies, and in my day that was considered very old, but I don’t think they are particularly old in their year. So, has it changed?
SHARON WITT: Yeah, you know, interestingly enough, when I started university I was 17, starting my first year.
DJ2: Me too.
SHARON WITT: It’s interesting because my son has now started, he’s 19 when he started. So, I think it really does makes a difference. So going back to when I sort of had the first news, I was really devastated that the final year of pre-school really cemented to important things to my son, especially when socialization and feeling comfortable around young people, following instructions and we want our children to be starting school quite confident in social situations.
DJ1: What if you got a kid who may be academically before they start school, seems to be quite intelligent, maybe a bit of advance, but socially not.
SHARON WITT: Yeah. And that can be the case. So, therefore, I would say still, starting, continuing another year of pre-school teach them how to build social things. Because once they start school, their ability to listen to and respond to instructions, being able to make friends, and you know, speak out for yourself , those things are actually important. So, we sometimes think that the social skills aren’t as important as, you know, how they are intelligent. That’s why the social skills are really, really important. So, I think if you’ve got a child who is wearing to the start of, say that their birthday is around January, February, I would err on the side of starting them when they speak in kindergarten rather than 5. I think, because you are actually go, and you know what, there is nothing wrong with starting and see how they go. And if thereare problems, our educators are really got at picking up on things and giving advice to parents. And I think you really do need to trust what the professionals are saying to you.
DJ2: There’s a really interesting, I guess revelation from a Stanford University study a couple of years ago, that found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced in-attention and hyper activity by 73% and virtually eliminated the probability than an average child would develop some sort of abnormal or high to normal behavioral issues. Is that something that you found as well?
SHARON WITT: Oh yeah. I think yeah, that’s a pretty broad statement, but I think there’s certainly similar to that. Because I think that when children have had that extra year in pre-school and they are used to socializing a bit more, I mean, my child was, he would, you know, he’d very nervous and he wouldn’t want ever do anything up the front. But the time he started school, by the time he started kindergarten, he was a lot more confident and I never ever regret it holding him back that extra year. And I think if you gonna err on the side of one way, I mean I have two nephews that were started right when they turn five and both ended up having to repeat a year in primary school.
DJ1: Really interesting.
SHARON WITT: Both of them. So, you’re better off waiting and making sure that they are well and surely ready.
DJ1: Yup. Thank you for your insight today Sharon.
SHARON WITT: Great, pleasure to talk to you.
DJ1: Educator and youth commentator Sharon Witt. So, over-all you better do err on a certain caution and keep your kids at home for another year.
DJ2: I guess so. I don’t know, but you can only go back to your own childhood experience and compare that. Though things have changed, haven’t they. Really quite traumatic.