Delaying school entry

We are talking about a reverse form of school derogation that is applied very rarely when a great difference is noticed between the development of a child and his age group.

Simon is 5 years old and is very immature for his age. His parents believe that an extra year in daycare would help his development and better prepare him for kindergarten.

Matilda, 5 ½ years old, speaks with difficulty. She prefers gestures to words but she loves being with other children. Matilda is a case of mixed aphasia (expressive and receptive language disorder).

Simon’s and Matilda’s parents are worried about kindergarten and wonder if they should delay their entry and what to do in order to delay it.

Delaying school entry

Here, we are talking about reverse school derogation. This procedure is undertaken when we notice a big difference between the development of a child and his age group. This recommendation is very rare, like school derogation, and is generally made when serious problems are present such as severe and profound mental retardation and some genetic syndromes.

Why is this approach rare?

The literature clearly states that it is better for a child, whatever his level of development, to follow a group of children of the same age than a younger group, even if their level of development is similar. The purpose of integrating a disabled child is to place him in the grade that allows him to be as normalized as possible for his age and his condition. The child who is surrounded by children of his own age has better chances to develop skills and acquire knowledge that match what is expected for his age. It eases his general development and his social integration. Academically, recommendations can be made to this effect and the child can benefit from the services of an educator who will allow him to follow the curriculum and evolve in this regard. A special class is also a possibility if the child needs more support. These two solutions for integration are privileged before considering delaying school.

If a child is immature, chances are that he will mature faster by being with children of his own age who behave as expected than by being with younger children whose behavior is less appropriate for his age.

But if doubts remain concerning the development and school entry of your child, you should consult and seek advice.

What is the procedure?

A comprehensive evaluation of your child’s development will be made. His spoken language, his social, fine and gross motor skills and some affective and behavioral aspects will be evaluated. Although there is no specific norm established by the OPQ for this purpose, the child should stand out significantly from the average in all aspects and have serious deficits. Following this evaluation and the advice of various specialists surrounding the family, the psychologist will make recommendations. Afterwards, the parents must contact the school board to check if it is possible to delay their child’s entry.

The concept of prejudice is the basis of any decision related to school derogations. Does the fact of entering kindergarten harm the child or is it delaying it that will eventually hurt him? The specialist must keep this notion in mind because it will guide all of his future recommendations.

Your pediatrician and a child psychologist are the specialists that should be consulted tu undertake this kind of procedure. In addition, any other specialist who already follows your child can give you advices and recommendations. Teamwork is desirable in this type of approach to promote the academic and personal development of your child.

Being a relatively rare approach, there is very little information on the subject. Nevertheless, it is possible to obtain more information from your school board or from psychologists in your area.

Katrine Schuessler

Katrine Schuessler is the mother of two daughters and a psychologist specializing in children and family disorders. She also gives workshops to assist parents in their role with their children. In addition, she is a breastfeeding godmother and is Vice-President of La Mère à Boire, a nursing support group. Finally, she is at the head of Groupe Emergence: a consulting group in child psychology.

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