Unhappy birth dates…

Our first child was born on the first of September. Had she been born the day before, or even two hours earlier, she would have gone to school a whole year earlier than she did.

“Oh, what a shame she has to wait another year,” everyone said.

Shame? I was thinking it was a good thing. She wasn’t ready and it gave her another year to develop and mature in preparation. As it turned out we went on to home educate after several years of school making her miserable. When we saw the change in her we regretted not doing it sooner. She never went back.

By the time she was just sixteen she was mature beyond her contemporaries still in school, ready to move on, keen to start her career choice and thus ready to go to college to pursue it. They accepted her with open arms. Then they noticed her birth date.

Simply because of that she would not be funded on a college course till the following year. Someone born two hours earlier would. How ridiculous was that!

You wouldn’t have thought so much would rest upon a birth date would you? But it does. And education as ever is about money not about individual needs. Birth dates make a difference to that as well.

Here’s an interesting item in the news today illustrating what impact a birth date can have on children’s achievement.


The really important point raised here is that dates shouldn’t be an issue. Not if children’s developmental and learning needs are being attended to, as policies and schools profess they are. Every child develops at a different rate and it’s not how old they are but where they’re at which matters. I think this illustrates that’s clearly not the case in the system.

When you home educate you can take away date boundaries and educate to where they’re at. You can give them activities to do that suit them irrespective of their age. You can introduce concepts when they’re ready not when the teachers or classmates are ready. They can learn new things when they need to not when the curriculum dictates. Best of all they can read whenever or whatever they like whether it’s Lord Of The Rings at seven years of age, or Elmer at twelve. It doesn’t matter. It all evens out in the end and no one would know any difference.

What matters is paying attention to their personal stage, not their age. With home education you get the chance to prevent the situation outlined in the article and your child gets the chance to learn in answer to their needs, rather than in answer to their birth date.


8 thoughts on “Unhappy birth dates…

  1. Many thanks for your comments. This is what I had thought, that for the next four years I could home school her and then see if she could attend Secondary school. Although after getting on a bus yesterday with kids from local secondary school… the language and behaviour (!) I really doubt I want her in that environment. Although we are next to the borough of Kingston where there are some “good’ schools, this would involve a lengthier travelling time. Impending dilemma but we shall see. Many thanks for your blog it is fab.

    • Hi again, Loopy! You have identified why so many parents choose to home educate – it’s not usually to do with the work, it’s to do with the environment! Very best wishes, keep in touch. If there’s anything you want to ask you can always email me direct.

  2. Wow…these posts are just what I needed to read..my daughter was born in August and the effects are there to see. She confessed how she does not feel “clever” she is apprehensive about going to school as she knows she sits on the ”orange” table (the lowest table) and this makes her feel bad. If you saw her in her class line, teeny tiny compared to the loud and tall girls next to her (one year older).
    I am to hold talks with her father and family to see if we can make home schooling a possibiliy.

    • Well, good luck with that. It’s not a decision we ever regretted. But remember that even if you start out home schooling it doesn’t have to be for life – it’s not a case of no going back! Understanding that sometimes helps with the decision. We have known home educating families who have done so just for primary years, or home schooled later during teen years, and also whose kids have never been to school. There are so many permutations! What’s important is to do what’s right for the child at the time. Best wishes!

  3. Lovely post, sums up so much of what I love about home education. DD1 is currently making her way through GCSEs. We’ve chosen to take a year longer so that she has the chance to properly absorb the information and hopefully even enjoy the subjects, rather than just cramming for the exam. I just hope that further education establishments will appreciate this – my experience so far with DS1 is that they won’t bat an eyelid *fingers crossed* !!

  4. My twin sons have August birthdays, and I don’t think I will ever forget the start of their formal education, as it was traumatic and unhappy, and that was just me!

    I remember the class teacher giving me a bank of words that my sons had to learn to read, I think there were about 25 in all. I laughed and suggested we leave it, as they really weren’t ready to read yet. They had shown no signs of being interested, were happy playing and building, loved the outdoors and were only four years old.

    The response from the teacher was to produce another list of words, this time about 100. She suggested that we just get on with it, as by the time my sons got to the next class, two terms later, they would be expected to know all 125 words, in order to not fall behind everyone else.

    I so wanted to remind this dear lady that it was the stage a child is at ~ not the age, but I felt almost sorry for the pressure that she was under, to produce results for the next teacher. And so it began…

    We now home educate our sons and they spend more time outdoors than in, read fluently, are very articulate, motivated and kind. Above all, they are extremely happy. Just wish I had done it before!

  5. How frustrating that a few hours can make such a difference to things like funding.

    I confess that one of the best things about home edding long term is that I no longer know what year my kids would be in or what they would be ‘supposed’ to know if they were at school.

    The comparisons with a school education that I made at the beginning of home education are no longer relevant. We are not in the same race; most of the time not even in the same stadium. My children have taken their own path, unimpeded by targets, labels and age appropriateness. And they’ve done this despite any anxieties I had about what they were learning or how fast they were learning it; and despite any attempt I may have made to intervene in or direct their progress.

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