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.”

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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.”

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.

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.
Join our Facebook discussion below:

  • Such a difficult decision, I’m sure you put a lot of thought into it before making a final decision, so you must have good reasons for doing it. So stop beating yourself up, you’re only trying to do what’s best for your kids.


  • You just have to go with your gut instinct and do what’s best for you at the time.


  • I think lack of social skills can be well and truly made up for, and the younger brain is a sponge absorbing more information younger. Some kids have un-diagnosed disorder/s that mean social skills will be hard whatever age, yet they can excel academically. Unless they’re struggling academically, keep them where they are meant to be in the right age group.


  • I think social skills are a really important factor – they need to be developed enough.


  • It is a dilemma knowing timing


  • Play is the work of childhood. Look at the Scandi countries – Finland doesn’t start formal lessons as such until kids are around 8 years of age!


  • There are other disadvantages too to holding back – intelligent children get bored and disengage.
    Children shouldn’t be held back unless they arent ready. When too many children are held back it creates unfair pressure on those who are ready to be held back too so they are not at a physical disadvantage to their peers.


  • All children are different and you know what is best for your child. Just follow your maternal instincts and you won’t be wrong


  • Go with your gut. We sent my son as a 4 year old turning 5 in the April. We checked everything off and even his PreSchool teacher said he was not on her radar for him to not attend school. Do I have any regrets? I followed closely the year after him and the group of kids and always felt I’d done the right thing for him. Only when all his mates were turning 18 in Year 12 and he was turning 17 did I start to see the difference – they all got their licenses, starting drinking. Do I regret it? No. We always knew it might be an issue and have been on top of it every year. We manage each issue and challenge related to him being younger. And he’s a fantastic young man… who I have to drive to work for a couple of months until he turns 18!!!


  • My third son was born in December and the cut of was Dec 31 then. He had speech problems and his pre school teacher wanted him to stay there another year. It was half days and I thought he would be better off having full day schooling. His speech improved with going to big school but he ended up repeating y1 as we thought and his teacher said it was better. He still had trouble at school and never recovered , even with extra help at home. Rules have changed for my younger children with cut off Jun 30, and Dec babies still have trouble. This time harder as twins, turns out one needed more time at home so home schooled my son and now fingers crossed is enjoying school in the same grade as his sister.


  • Believe me it is worse if you start your child too early. Two of mine started school at almost the cut-off point for that year and one struggled big time all through schooling and the other was held back in grade 3 and couldn’t work out why when there wasn’t a problem with performance at school that age restricted going to the next level with schoolfriends. End result of that was not trying for the balance of school years. Such a pity as school should have been a great fun place to learn.


  • At the time you made decision convinced it was the right thing to do, now you doubt it. Nothing you can do about it now, don’t beat yourself up about it. This year is not wasted, your child learns lots of things at preschool ad well.


  • It’s a hard decision and one I feel as mums we need to trust our gut instinct


  • We kept our daughter in preschool. Until the year she was turning six. Only because of her speech difficulties..but it turned out that she was going to get the help she needed at school. But I think that extra year worked out great for her.


  • If she is old enough then she can be enrolled at school anytime during the year so just enrol her if she’s ready?

    • I don’t know which state you live in but at some the birthday for the school year is some time in April as far as I know and they start at the very beginning of the term. I don’t know if schools will take pupils after the start of the term.


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