The cultural or individual decision of when to start school? Is the ‘whole’ child ready?

It’s something we get asked so often & we stand with so many parents in making this decision. People’s careers & lifestyles have changed so much. Our access to knowledge as humans is no longer scarce. The world needs more creativity & innovation — & LOVE. The research says one thing & the norms say another... So when is it right for my child to go to school???

There seems to be a huge pressure for children to start their academic journeys younger & younger. Play based learning in both preschool & a child’s first year of school has openly taken a back seat in exchange for formalised academic instruction. Which doesn’t seem like a big deal — but when you dig a little deeper there’s loads of reasons to consider the ‘whole’ child being ready for school & not just being the age the government says is ok.

In a Psychology Today article by Dr Peter Gray he links an early academic start without enough free play to issues later on that our society is now facing — such as depression & anxiety. It may seem extreme to consider that going off to school too early can cause this — but the research is showing up consistently & we feel it’s time we listened a little so we can build awareness. We really don’t know the exact whys related to the systems here & in the US ousting play based learning....could it be that play is hard to measure & in a results driven culture ‘play’ doesn’t fly?

That aside, we are not here to oust systems — we are just passionate about informed decision making for individual children & their parents. We look through the lens of a holistic approach for children & observe that the systems overlook holistic child development. In Finland formal academic instruction doesn’t begin until 7 years old, as their entire education system takes on a holistic approach & matches up with the research. We’d love to see a sprinkle of that into our schooling norm... if we are collectively aware of the importance of a holistic approach to education — the culture here will start to change..... The children need to be coming first.

For parents, it’s not an easy transition when it comes to what age a child goes off to school. Through experience it’s a big thing when some parents aren’t sending their children off to school even though their birth date made the ‘cut off’. Culture runs deep when it comes to education. And cultural norms don’t always suit the decision being made for a little human being. We believe in decision making for the individual — there’s vast differences in each of them. As a parent you know your child the very best & in your heart of hearts what will be best for them. Are they ready to be engaged intellectually, socially & emotionally in a school environment? How does your child thrive? How does their magic happen? What speaks to their soul? What inspires them? How do they learn best? What do you want your child to ‘download’ during these early years? Which in turn determines who they will become....

These are the questions we must ask rather than cut off dates. Foundation/Preparation/Kindergarten Year is their first year of school here in Australia. What if you travelled for that year? What if you didn’t send them for another year? What if they went to a tiny school? What if they went to a big school? What if you home educated? What if you just took your own holistic approach at home that supported them at school? What if you found a school that agreed to part time attendance? What if your child would really thrive at school & needed it?

What do you believe is best for YOUR child?

Despite all pressure, bias & belief systems related to starting school at a certain age — in our country we are blessed with choice....

So with that in mind...

Would the decision matter most to the child?

Or would it matter more to the exisiting cultural norms?

Is the ‘whole’ child ready?


Elysia Keillah