January 22, 2021


One mum confesses she regrets her decision to hold her child back from school for another year.

Sharing with MoM she sadly wrote: “Oh mums, I feel awful. It was such a difficult decision to make but I really did feel that I did the right thing by giving my daughter another year in pre-school.

“But when I dropped off my son and seen the ‘big school’ kids, I have the biggest doubt that I made a BIG mistake.

“She should be there too, in her school uniform learning all sorts of things. Instead, it feels like she’s wasting her time playing around. I know people say that you won’t ever regret ‘keeping them back’ but I do.”

MoM’s share their advice

Our kind mums have shared their wise words of wisdom with some even saying it is NEVER too late to enrol if you think that is what is best for your child.

Other mums said:

Sarah kindly advised: “Play is the most important part of learning for young children. Don’t think she’s wasting time. She is getting so many skills out of it that will prepare her for the social/emotional aspects of school, as well as developing important fine & gross motor skills imperative to success in academics.”

Tina agreed: “Play is an important part of learning and it’s never wasted. She won’t miss out on anything, she will still learn. Don’t beat yourself up, it isn’t permanent and it won’t impact her negatively in anyway. You did the right thing.”

They May Not Be Ready

Karan added: “It’s crueler to put them in before they’re ready and then they see all their little friends move up while they stay in kindy. You know your own child and if you had doubts about her ability to cope then you did the right thing keeping her back a year.”

Amanda said: “If you had sent her this year, you might of still be doubting that you did the right thing. Next year, she will have gained more socially, and you will never doubt it again, as it is not going to be a bad thing at all.”

Susan said: “No harm done. It all sorts itself out in the wash. Chances are she will be more on top of things when she does start school and be able to take more of a lead in class which is great for confidence. Also if you think she is ready there are always the weekends and after school for ‘learning’ with you! Imagine what you can do to help broaden her experience (eg music, reading, drawing, art, dance, sport etc.) without all the distracting routine of school that ended up taking up WAY more time that we would have liked in the early years.”

What the experts say

Research is constantly being done on whether it benefits a child to delay starting school or if it actually harms them. The research is quite conflicting because many researchers find that it benefits your child a great deal to start school later and others feel that there is either no impact or it benefits them.

Positives to a delayed start:

  • They are more mature.
  • They are the oldest in the classroom.
  • They perform better academically.
  • They have more confidence.

Negatives to a delayed start:

  • It can be hard if all your child’s friends start school and he or she is left behind.
  • They might get irritated with their younger peers in the class.
  • The advantage the child had at the beginning of their school careers will eventually fade when the other kids start catching up.

It can be overwhelming for parents, however, you know your child best. You know what your child is capable of. You have seen your child at their best and at their worst. It is important to trust yourself and your instinct as a parent.

When In Doubt…Give Them An Extra Year Of Play

Dr. Nadia Louw, Educational Psychologist says that when you are in doubt, keep them back.

She says that as parents you might feel like you are giving your child an academic edge, but it can cause untold damage if they are not ready for formal education. “It is like forcing a little fledgling from the nest before its wings are fully developed.”

“The impact on the child’s academic self-concept and ability to learn can be great. So parents have to think carefully when making this decision.” She also says every child is different and it really depends on them.

What did you do? Did you send your kids to school “on the early side” or gave them another year of play? Tell us in the comments below.

  • Do so agree that it won’t hurt if you hold your child back for a year. One of mine started school at only 4.1/2 because the headmaster told me that if he had another child at his school they would be able to get another teacher and it would benefit everyone. Said she was so bright she would be OK. My daughter struggled throughout her school life and I always felt sorry that I listened to the headmaster’s pleas.


  • Each child is unique and I believe you will know what’s right for them.


  • Boys more so than girls might need an extra year. I would only do this if the benefits far outweighed the negatives. I would make a list of pros and cons first


  • If there is a pre kindy class at the local primary school I will definitely enrol my little one into that, if not I will be putting her into Kindergarten as soon as she is old enough,


  • Most kids don’t even realise they are doing another year of kinder, talk to the kinder teachers as they have so much experience to support the decision


  • Some children definitely need the extra year


  • I waited the extra year to send my son (April birthday). Instead of going to school, we travelled abroad and had lots of fun excursions. My son is smart, confident and social. I feel regret all the time as know he is embarrassed to be a year below his friends and he finds the work is too simple. He wins most of the class competitions and awards which I feel guilty about. So definitely the person who says no one ever regrets waiting is definitely wrong in my case.


  • It’s so hard to know when to send your babies to school. No cut-off date is ideal; it wouldn’t matter if the cut-off date was 31 December-if one child turns 5 in December and one is already 5 but turns 6 in March, there’s still going to be a huge difference in their age.
    I think maturity has a lot to do with when to send your child. Bright children can be given more challenging work to do. There is more stigma (for the children) to repeat a year and often means having to change schools so probably best to delay starting school.
    I sent my March boy to sessional kindergarten as well as attending childcare to make sure he was stimulated and challenged because we decided to start school when he was 5.
    It will all work itself out so don’t beat yourself up Mumma.


  • Mum knows what is the best for her kids. Every child is different.


  • I feel you have made the best decision holding your child back. They will be learning so many wonderful social and educational skills whilst in preschool. I feel your child will thrive even better when they begin school the following year. If you are worried you can begin some sight words reading and writing at home. There are loads of activities and suggestions online. You are a fabulous mother please don’t worry.


  • I started my son early (4 turning 5) and it was my biggest regret. He’s got a learning disability that couldn’t be diagnosed until he was six when he was in year 1. If I had of waited a year, he could have started and been diagnosed in kindy and we could have addressed it earlier.
    My daughter was started at the right age of 5 turning 6 and I’ll do the same for my third little boy.


  • Can you really know either way which was the right decision, because you’re only playing out one reality. We have decided to hold our son back, and just hope that in the long run it is the best decision. Ultimately, if he’d that tad bit older, it will hopefully allow him to learn a lot easier than the year before, and he would also have another year of maturity and learning to deal with his emotions. All in all, in a supportive environment, either way kids should thrive in either situation.


  • My son is now 19 and this conversation is still being had. I really wish there was a national standard with the cut off date 31 Dec so there’s no question about it. I sent my son early, and did I regret it initially, no? Everyone said he was ready. The issues he had throughout school with bullying etc. I don’t believe were related to his young age. And I always looked at and followed the kids the year below him and felt we’d done the right thing. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer. We just made sure we worked harder for and with him.


  • Don’t beat yourself up mumma ! I’m sure you didn’t take this decision lightly, so nu use to feel regretful about it.
    We arrived in Australia from Europe in April when my eldest was 4 turning 5, so we waited till the next yr when she was 5tyrning 6. My son followed her the next year at the same age.
    My third was nearly 5 when she started and my youngest was 5turning 6 and repeated prep


  • I think this is a hard decision to make but you know your child & would have an instinct. I could tell mine was getting bored and needed more stimulation so sent her as soon as she started 5 (and she turned 5 the week before she started!)


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