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  1. ILoveWords
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    ILoveWords Member

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    What are possible reasons for a child to start school earlier than usual?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by ILoveWords, Aug 26, 2013.

    Can parents freely choose when their child starts primary school? If they can't who decides?

    My issue is that I want my character to be in the same class as people who are one year older than her, but since she's not particularly gifted, I can't have her skip a class. What can I do to make her being in this class at school make sense?
     
  2. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    Does it have to be a whole year? She could just be the youngest in her year.
     
  3. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Here, kids that are 5 on Dec. 31st start one year, and kids that are born Jan 1st and after start the next year. My daughter's is Jan 5th, so she started school a year later than she really should have. So she's going into 3rd grade and will be 9, while most of the birthdays in her class will be for kids turning 8. Don't know if that helps you much...
     
  4. Ray West
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    Ray West Member

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    I think it depends on the province/state, and sometimes the distric school board. Some do it by calendar year, others by the school year. Some places I believe you can choose whether to start your child earlier or later if they have a late birthday.
    I would suspect that if you wanted, you could also have the parents harass the school enough and they would do it to get rid of them... If your characters parents are the pushy sort...
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is an issue that I have been thinking about for a decade. There are a lot of different school districts, with a lot of different cut-off dates. There are also A LOT of parents these days who want to delay their children's school entry because they think they will have an advantage if they are older and bigger. (Some do it for academic reasons, to give their kids time to mature and learn before K. Others do it for athletic reasons, thinking that if they want their son to play football, he'll be bigger at 19 or 20 than at 18, so during his senior year, he'll have an advantage over the other players and therefore be more able to attract scholarships and interest from big schools.) So some parents keep their kids from starting school until they are as old as 7.

    I know of one woman who lived in a school district with a cut off of December 31. Her daughter's birthday was in MAY, and she was the YOUNGEST kid in the class. Everyone else had kept their kids back, if their birthday was in June or later, because not only did they want them to have an advantage, but they worried about their kid being at a disadvantage because so many other people put their kids in school late. Kindergarten kids can have age ranges as large as 2 years.

    There could also be differences if a child moved school districts -- maybe a kid has an August 16 birthday, but their school district had a cut off of August 15. Then, after a couple years, the family moves to a different district, with a cut off of December 31. They originally missed the cut off, in their first district, but would have made it in their new one.

    Parents can petition to have their kid start early if they miss the cut-off, but these days the trend is heavily in the opposite direction. But there are parents who do it.

    What I'm trying to say, in a very long-winded way, is that it would not be at all unusual for a child to be in a grade where most of the kids were a year or so older than she.

    (My younger son's birthday is September 1. Our school district cut off is September 1. I've been obsessing for years.)
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i was the youngest in my class, since my birthday was september 14 and i entered kindergarten before my 5th birthday, so graduated at 17, while my classmates were 18...

    if your character is enrolled in a private school, not a public one, she can be allowed to start a year early even if she's not bright enough, if her parents have enough social/economic clout...

    otherwise, being skipped is the only way it could come about...
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, the opposite is often true. People who can afford to pay for private childcare, a private pre-K program, or a private K program (who then send their kids to the public K the next year) often do so to give their kids the perceived advantage. Parents who cannot afford these daycare expenses often try to get them into the public Kindergarten as early as they can.

    It also isn't so much about the child's IQ/intelligence as it is about social skills that is the primary determining factor of whether a child is ready for kindergarten.

    Also, skipping grades is nowhere near as common as it used to be. These days, schools tend to place the kids in advanced classes or tracks if they indicate they have already mastered material being taught to most of the kids at that grade level. Once the student masters material at a senior level, or beyond what the school can teach, the schools often have some sort of agreement with a local college where the student can take classes. Most typically, this situation is encountered with respect to mathematics. The "need" to skip students ahead is mitigated. It is thought to be more important to keep the student with his already established, same-aged peers.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's not an issue of what is usually/often done, liz... but only of what can work in the plot the op is developing... which is why i suggested what i did re a private school... because a public school would not be as willing [if at all] to admit an underage child...
     
  9. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    While that is a valid point, the OP asked about what makes sense and about what happens in the real world, presumably because his story is taking place here. Although it is probably true in some instances that a private school *might* take a younger child if a public school did not, it is also often the case that private schools are *more* picky and stringent about age cut-offs than public schools. In some places public schools have to take kids who are 5 or who might be threatened with a lawsuit.

    In the end, I think this shows that what there is plenty of justification for age differences within a grade, for multiple reasons. The more the OP knows about what does actually happen, the more informed his writing will be. If he chooses an option that is less likely (rather than the most likely), he will need to address it, even if briefly, in the story. There are a lot of scenarios that are possible. But just because something is possible doesn't mean that it makes the most sense for the story. It is better to be aware of the various alternatives and what factors affect them.

    Of course, the OP's issue will differ depending on when the story takes place. If it is more or less current, and the events have occurred over the last 10-15 years, the trend is toward later school entry, with big differences between school districts. However, if the story takes place 30 or more years ago, say in the 1970s or 80s, the trend would have been the opposite -- there were many more people getting their kids into school early.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you seem to have missed, "if her parents have enough social/economic clout" in re the realistic possibility of getting a too-young child into a private school...

    that does happen in the real world on a daily basis... all too often wealth and social status will trump 'rules'...
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    In the US, state law dictates this and some exceptions are granted.

    Parents can hold their child back a year believing that gives their child some advantage of self esteem. While other kids can tease a too old child in a grade, an older kid can have a physical advantage in sports. It can be as bad as competing with a team where one of the kids is one steroids. It was a problem in organized sports when my son was young.

    If she transferred from someplace else, the school might decide she had completed a curriculum that better matched a higher one at the new school.
     
  12. DH Hanni
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    DH Hanni Member

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    I'll echo the sentiments of others and say if you want a character to be in the same grade as others and she's not gifted, just have her birthday be on the tail end of the cut off dates. In the States, it various so much. I grew up in CA and in the 80s, the cut off date was December 1st. I knew someone born December 18th and he was the oldest person in his class. I had a friend born October 29th, same class as me but I was 18 when we graduated and she was 17. But where I live in WA state, I think the cut off is September 1st. One of my nephews and his sister have late August birthdays so their parents decided to hold them back a year. My nephew is 7 and in first grade and my niece, who is 5, just started pre-school.

    You've got flexibility and I wouldn't be too caught up in that kind of detail to let it affect the story. Someone's bound to call you out on it but the reality is it just depends on where you're at.
     
  13. InkyPiskie
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    InkyPiskie New Member

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    I realise that I'm in a different country (UK), but my son was 4 yesterday. He starts school next week and has already been invited to a 5th birthday party for one of his new classmates which is happening next weekend.

    My point being - it's completely logical and plot worthy for kids to be 1 year apart and still in the same class.
     

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