When my babies and I returned to Chengdu from Hong Kong after their birth at 31 weeks of gestation, they were almost 6 months old. Many of our friends came over to visit; to meet the tiny babies.
One of those friends was a school principal. Since we’ve been considering schools, and when to start them – I’ve heard from friends that children start anywhere from 2 to 6 years old depending on where they come from and what their parents can manage and prefer to do – I remembered something she said to me.
For every week of prematurity, hold back the child from starting school by a month.
When we visited a school a few months ago, that principal also suggested that we hold them back rather than push them into school early.
This all worked well with my thoughts on not sending my children in too early, on not pushing them.
Then more recently, yet another principal talked to us about some of her experiences in the past, with premature children having difficulties in music classes, for example.
I’ve felt that my children are in the average of their age group. I can’t say that on any scientific basis, but I’m not too bothered with what they can or can’t do, of course that is keeping in mind that they are highly energetic children with no major, obvious issues. They talk. A lot. They play and laugh.
Last month I sent my 2 year 3 month olds to school. They were the youngest in their class, by a few months. At this stage of extremely quick growth and change, I’d say they were the youngest by far. So after a week of battling with myself, after having done the exact opposite of what I believed in, and what I was advised – I pulled them out of school.
In terms of separation from me, interaction and focus in class, they did very well, but I wasn’t convinced that it was the best thing for them at that time. My son was crying in his sleep, and unusually quiet and forlorn. My daughter became even more clingy than usual. I saw obvious changes. Of course there will be an adaptation phase whenever they start school, but we didn’t have to have it at that time. I have the luxury of being a SAHM, and all the plans that I made of what I would with my free-time, can wait a few more months!
But mainly I am hoping that the extra six months at home with us, will give them more confidence and security, other than more words, the ability to better express their emotions, they’ll be potty trained. After speaking to a number of close mum friends, I realized that almost all had waited until their children were 2.5 or 3 before sending them to school, and even then, they only went 3 half days every week.
Now, we are doing many activities that include music, dance, and just simple play – and we are all happy with our decision. I’m sure that the 6 months I hold them back will give them time for growth, and confidence.
My question to parents, both of premature children and not, to teachers, educators, paediatricians, and anyone who has an opinion on this: When did your children start school? Is there much change in a child between the ages of 2 and 3?
Have you read or heard of studies about prematurity and education, prematurity and its relation to holding back children from starting school?
Natasha lives in Chengdu, China with her husband Maher. She is mum of twins Leila and Rahul, and was an Ashtanga Yoga teacher until her little yogis became the teachers. You can find more of her thoughts and stories at Our Little Yogis. http://natashadevalia.com