I Want My Son to Repeat Year 4 but Department Of Education Won't Allow. What to Do?


I have reached a dead-end and looking for some help in an area in which some of you might be working or you might have already come across this situation.

My son is in year 4 now ( moving to year 5 this school year and 9.5 years of age as of today) and is mid-Jun born baby. As you know, in NSW the cut-off date for NSW admission is 31-July and if the kid turns 5 years on that day, he can start school (kindy) in Jan.

We, by mistake, went ahead with the option and he started kindy at the age of 4.5. Now we realise this was a mistake we made as all other students in the class are at least 1 year older than my son. Socially and academically he has the status of ‘competent’ but we feel he is struggling. We have been sending him for other tuition class as well which I think is helping him to push himself forward. But I am worried how far I can push him and I am afraid he will eventually breakdown which I want to avoid.

Last year we moved house but not school. He travels an hour every day to his school and I was thinking of moving him to a school nearby. This provided me an option to make him repeat year 4 as well because he is in a new environment and wouldn’t feel much issue with self-esteem or confidence. We already told him that we are taking this decision not because he is bad in studies but to make sure that he is with his same age group which he agreed as well.

Had a discussion with new school but it looks like the policy is against it as they find he is doing good socially and academically. This policy won’t let him repeat even if parents asks for it. I am lost here and don’t know what are my options to keep him at Year 4 itself. A few of options that came to my mind are
1) Join private/Catholic schools where he will be accepted at year 4 itself and then move to public in year 5
2) Send him out of country for 6 months which will force the Department to put him back year 4 when he returns. I don’t want to do it due to other consequences this might bring.

I would prefer to the repeat year 4 itself as repeating beyond this grade is a bit tricky and might impact him. This is causing lot of stress to me and my wife now.

Has anyone been in this situation? And, how did you guys resolve it. Appreciating your advice and thoughts… thanks…

TLDR : I Want My Mid-Jun Born Son to Repeat Year 4 but Department of Education Doesn’t Allow. What to Do?

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  • +3

    This is just my experience, so take it for what it's worth, it might be different to your situation. I am an early starter and was always the young one in my class. I never had a problem with being younger, in fact, I never even really realized that I was younger at all.

    Ultimately, I think it will make very, very little difference. I doubt that he even really cares (or realizes) that the other kids are a few months older than him. Just let things be and let him do his thing. By all accounts he seems to be doing quite well and you seem to see that as well.

    It might be difficult for you to hear this as a parent, but if anything, your attitude is what will affect him most negatively. If you keep worrying and losing sleep over it and making it seem like there's something wrong, he will feel like there's something wrong and he'll feel more negatively about things. If you just let things be and be happy and just make things as normal as possible, he'll be more fine with it too. Don't stress yourself out too much.

    Personally, after reading your story, I don't think the age problem is a massive issue, I think the fact that you're sending him to tuition at age 9 and making him travel for an hour each day is the real problem. Let go of all that and just let the kid live a normal life. You might worry yourself sick, but most kids turn out fine.

    Also, whilst I'm on topic, you also have to accept that regardless of when the cut-off date is, there will always be kids who are the youngest. If you make the cut-off date December 31, then there will be some kid who was born on Dec 31 who is a year younger than some kid born on Jan 1 the same year and they'll be in the same class. All you're doing is moving your kid from a place where he is amongst the youngest to a class where he is amongst the oldest. I don't think that will be any better, I'm not sure you've really considered that.

  • +1

    Just relax up and let the kid be a kid. Drop the extra tuition classes and make sure he gets out to see the world and be around other people and he'll be good. If he enjoys school and being there then there's nothing to worry about and you should consider that a win. As he grows up and goes to highschool he'll find his niche quickly.

  • +3

    sab2000: is your real concern that u think your son will be at the top of the class if he repeats year 4 as opposed to the school thinking he is doing good (average)

    we moved from overseas and both my children were placed in classes one year ahead both my kids were found doing good in the year higher..but after 6 months we put our daughter back a year so she would be with similar aged children. our son we left in a class higher( mainly to keep him interested he would have hated repeating six months)

    our son is 11 and in Year 8 he will turn 12 this year.He does not go for any tutoring , ( We thought he can have a gap year then, if he needs it) Most of his classmates are 2 years older and some are 1 year older. I will surely say the socially he is 6 months behind his peers.But has no issues with it. We are in Melbourne.

    your son not concentrating and not listening to you sounds like a typical 9.5 year old. What do u want ?

  • +2

    Don't know if my comment will be that relevant as I did my High School overseas.

    I was given an option to jump a grade upwards at Kindi as they said I was too smart.I was moved to year 1 straight away. I was fine till Year 11. Used to be ranked 5-8 in class. Always top score in Maths. But When I got to High School years 12, 13 my performance dropped rapidly. I used to look up at the older student. All of them were 1-2 years older then me. They used to perform very well.

    Back home I had the option to repeat again. That put me back again with my aged kids. But socially I didn't know anyone. They used to look at me as matured student. My self esteem dropped really badly. Because I alwasy had the feeling that I was a repeat. I used to procrastinate because it was the same stuff I learnt for the last 2 years. Then I did London Advanced levels to get to this country. Now thats another year to study and pass.

    Your situation is very tricky. If its me I will drop or make him repeat now. But not later. He would have far less understanding what happened to him now than later. I know some of you say he wont forgive you for what you have done. But me on the other hand still ask my parents why did you accept for the double promotion when I was a kid.

  • +1

    Personally, from a kids perspective, I would absolutely hate repeating. I was put up a grade once and then put back down (school decision due to bullying, classmates were mostly 2 years older). I absolutely hate that I had to repeat work I already did and would not wish this upon anyone.
    Kids get it too easy nowadays. Kids in QLD were doing grade 1 when your kid was doing kindy and now they are pushing it up to be aligned with other states. The kids arent getting any smarter from it, just a year older when they finish school. A year less of their lives.

  • +2

    I'd be more worried about you projecting your views of him "struggling" making him believe that he is of lesser intelligence or maturity, he'll feel like a failure if he has to sit through the same year again. It will likely give him a negative attitude towards school in general as he will feel as though he has to be better than everyone else at all times cause he is now the oldest(?) or has spent more time in school and still can't keep up (if he is not at the top of the class, etc).

    Coming from someone who didn't care much for school, didn't go to university (went to TAFE though, doing what I wanted; website development) - I now sit beside a colleague who did well in school, went to uni (has HECS/HELP to pay off) and now we work at the same place getting paid the same.
    Let your kid be a kid, the maturity and focus will come once they find something they enjoy learning about

  • +2

    I was one of those kids born a few days before the July 31 cut off and started Kindergarten at 4.5 years of age. Whilst only you know what's going on in your child's mind, I will mention that whenever we saw kids 'repeat' in primary school, they were often social pariah's with a stigma around them of being 'not very smart'. I know that's a terrible thing to say, but young children don't comprehend why someone might be repeating a grade. There are potentially very serious complications on his self esteem if you do repeat him.

    Growing up, I never felt like there was a difference between me and my friends who were a year older. In fact, the only time I did feel it, was when they had all turned 18 and decided to visit a pub, and I had to stand outside. These things balance out over time and there is nothing wrong with being 'competent'.

    Wish you all the best with your decision, but do remember that an academic record shouldn't be your primary focus here.

  • -2

    I have a son who was born in mid April and the cut off in Victoria is 30 June which would have made him the youngest in the class, since everyone else delayed starting school if their child was even older than mine. Fortunately he was the second born and I was aware of the issue and "held him back". I do believe that this is an important issue. I had two friends who sent their sons to school early. In fact the children were so young they would not have been able to start in a public school but went to a private one. The mothers believed their sons to be gifted. Both of them regretted it. One whose son attended a top private school wanted him to repeat year 6 but the school would not agree. She felt so strongly that he was disadvantaged, in this case socially and in sporting endeavours and that this was undermining his confidence, she took him out of the school for one year and sent him overseas for 6 months. He then started year 7 at the same school.
    Unfortunately life is a competition and it starts with private school entry, selective school entry and university entry. How a child performs can be vital to achieving the career they want and a standard of living that will contribute to their happiness and health. I do not say that this is everything but it is important. Obviously a child that is younger, especially a boy is at a disadvantage. You would think that all parent would want to set their child up for success if they can but I came across some who were critical of the efforts I made to ensure my sons academic success. There were always many books in the house and we read to the children regularly, encouraged them to read and purchased books for them. Although they did not have weekly tutoring they had coaching to enter a selective school, I always tried to be home when they arrived from school to ensure they studied and before exams when they had time off school to study I would stay home all day. I think that some parents cannot not be bothered to put in the work and try to assuage their guilt it by saying that kids should do what they want or what the school says without interference. Both my sons attended Melbourne High School and at that time it was the only selective school for boys in the state and they loved it. It was not full of nerds as someone said and extracurricular activities were compulsory even in year 12. My older son is a Doctor and the younger one is studying Law.
    I admire your efforts to secure your son's future. If I were you I would continue to get him to repeat the year at the new school and the bonus would be that it is closer. I would not make him repeat at the old school under any circumstances. I did know of a child who did this but it was in year 1. If you cannot get approval for this I would get him to start at the catholic school provided they allow him to repeat. But if he does do that I think you need to keep him there till secondary school, which you need to choose carefully. Hopefully the other children need not find out that he is repeating.

    • +1

      How a child performs can be vital to achieving the career they want and a standard of living that will contribute to their happiness and health

      Would love to see your non anecdotal evidence on this. Or is it more perception than reality?

    • I was a lawyer and earned a good wage. I was also working 12-15 hour days and stressed the entire time. Definitely was not healthy nor happy.

    • +6

      She felt so strongly that he was disadvantaged, in this case socially and in sporting endeavours and that this was undermining his confidence, she took him out of the school for one year and sent him overseas for 6 months. He then started year 7 at the same school.

      And to be honest, this is why we have entitled losers around. You're going to have to deal with much harder issues than socializing with kids a year older than you and not being that great at sport. We have this such unhealthy culture of always having to be the best or at least being better than everyone. Remember that regardless of where you are and what you do, someone has to be the worst. You can't keep trying to fiddle around and find backdoors which lead you to success. One day you'll have to face the music and actually go out into the real world.

      Unfortunately life is a competition and it starts with private school entry, selective school entry and university entry. How a child performs can be vital to achieving the career they want and a standard of living that will contribute to their happiness and health.

      I don't think so. I grew up in one of the lowest socio-economic areas of Melbourne, I went to a school where I knew more about the world in terms of general knowledge and history than most of my teachers by the time I was in Year 5. I later went to a local public school when my family moved to a nicer area, still very much middle class though. I was never really pushed to work hard, I just worked because I enjoyed learning and I was naturally very curious. I don't want to beat my drum, but I achieved a good ATAR (top 0.3% of the state) and I studied Medicine at Monash for a few semesters. I then dropped out because I didn't love it, because it didn't make me happy.

      I ended up studying Economics, I now work as an economist and am studying for a PhD in Econometrics. I hope that over the next few decades I'll be able to teach at a university for a while. I then want to work as a photographer and spend the majority of my life after that capturing moments and producing art.

      Am I crazy? I guess you could say so, but I think you're really missing the point, there's so much emphasis on choosing the right career that sometimes we don't understand the value of what truly makes us happy. If your kids enjoy Med or Law, that's great - but as a former medicine student, I can say that 70% of the kids there didn't truly want to be there. They enjoyed it, sure, but their heart was somewhere else.

      The average salary for a doctor is around $250,000. The average salary for an academic in the field of economics is probably around $110,000. The average salary for a photographer is around $60,000. I guess you could say that I'm moving down, but you know, I'm willing to accept that for the joys and happiness that I get. Some people will never understand that, they'll spend the rest of their lives being slaves or robots and never really love the work they do with all their heart.

      I think that's such a shame. It doesn't matter what school you go to, what you study or what career you work in. What matters is whether you love what you do and whether you are good at what you do. Most of this depends on your personality. If someone is creative, not technical, no amount of tuition and sunk costs in private school education will get them to enjoy and love engineering. If someone is technical, not creative, no art school in the world can turn them into Leonardo da Vinci.

      If you cannot get approval for this I would get him to start at the catholic school provided they allow him to repeat.

      People need to learn to let nature take its course and let him blossom the way he will blossom. This interventionist stuff makes me feel really sick. He's a kid for goodness sake, do you really think he cares about whether he's smarter or dumber or bigger or smaller? No. He cares about the world he lives in and video games and toys and watching cartoons. Instead of worrying about all this nonsense, teach him life skills. Take him places and teach him about the world, take him to a bridge and teach him about what engineers do. Take him to a zoo and teach him about biology. Travel together and learn history.

      Don't sit around worrying about nonsensical things that have no bearing on him, enthuse him about the world in which he lives and develop a natural curiosity which will make him better than all his peers.

      One of my close friends studied Commerce/Law and worked for a major management consulting firm for a few years before deciding that he hated what he did. He now owns an ice cream shop in Windsor and I see him there every time I drop by. He's happy, don't you think that's what's important?

      • +1


        Sadly a lot of people still think being a doctor or lawyer equals lots of money equals happiness and spend so much time/effort/money chasing this ideal at the detriment of everything else…

      • +2

        Honestly, you touched my heart. I should say you have the skills of a motivator and mentor.

    • I did contemplate on taking 6 months gap and forcing Dept to make him repeat year 4. But I am afraid its too much of risk.

  • +1

    Would you like to tell us how you spend your time with him, after work, weekends, etc?

  • +2

    The teachers are trained to assess your son in his academic and social maturity. They say he's coping well.

    Is he hating school? Is he unhappy? If not then why rock the boat?

    If I may offer a suggestion, it sounds like this is more an issue with you not wanting your son to be "average" and wanting him to be top of his class.

    Before you put him in tutoring and make selective school his only goal do some impartial research into the long term (eg after school, job, social standing) effect of going to a selective school. It's negligible to none, and in a lot of cases it ends in burn out.

    Surely his happiness should be the key concern. If the teachers see no problem, let it be.

  • +2

    All very good suggestions and experiences but I’d like to add that whatever you decide, don’t beat yourself up over it if you don’t get the ‘desired’ outcome. It is so easy to point to a single decision and think that made all the difference when really it only partly contributes.  You’ve made it out like this single decision may impact the rest of his life, it won’t. As others have mentioned, your attitude and worries towards this issue, his own motivation and competence, and his environment (teachers and classmates etc) all contribute to whatever the outcome may be.


    On a more general note, enjoy the time that you have with your son now. Things have a way of working themselves out. Better to spend effort building your relationship so that he will come to you when he faces important difficulties later in life. I know there is an emphasis on making sure that your son gets into selective school, get a good ATAR to study medicine or law. But for what? So he can become a doctor or lawyer (most common aspirational professions)? Like somehow if you become one of those things, you’ve “made it”, you’re “successful”. This is such an old fashioned perspective. I was a lawyer and earned a good wage, yet, I didn’t feel “successful” at all. And I definitely didn’t feel happy. There is way more to life than what you do to make a living.  

  • I have two children & after migrating to AU, decided to start my son in year 7, though he age/acedemically would be in year 8. I did this to: a) give him a chance to acclimate b) be able to attend his 1st year in AU & only year he'd have at the same school w/his younger sister (she, year 3). For her, moving to year 3 was nearly mandatory, sort of what you're running up against now.

    She struggled a bit, but at age 16 now- made up for it. He, after completing yr. 7, was finding the work too easy. When he was moving to middle/high school, I asked that principal if after a term, could he move up if the work remained too simple to him? Their reply was that it would be best to move him up to yr. 9 from the start, so he wouldn't have the strain of starting a new school/class/friends twice in the same year. That made sense & it all worked out.

    In retrospect, I think my son did well because he's always been a "water-off-his-back" sort who handles things well. He did miss his old classmates, but still maintains those friendships now.

    Let your son go on to year 5 and see how it goes. Keep in close contact with his teacher(s) via phone & email to get updates on his performance & how he's going. I think it'll all work out fine. There will be the typical bumps, but kids are resilient.

    Imho. :)

  • Growing up I started a year early like your son, it never hindered what I did and in fact in Year 7 I was accelerated further and skipped year 8. Only after 2 years it was decided I should do Year 10 again because I was apparently too young.

    That destroyed me, doing the same year all over again made me bored, lazy, un-interested and it ruined the rest of my schooling, from being in the top range of my classes I went to average-below average I was just not interested after having to do the same stuff for a second year in a row.

    Circumstances are different for you but I would strongly recommend keeping him in the grade he is in. Nothing is worse than being bored and uninterested. Keep him challenged rather than just coasting along.

  • +2

    Honestly, based on what you have said, I don't see why it is imperative that your son repeats year 4.

    You should be able to teach him the relevant literacy / numeracy skills at home, and if you are worried about how he is interacting with other kids socially, just get him in some extracurricular activities outside of school, such as a sport or scouts?

  • +1

    Thinking about it, in my years at school, on average, span of age-difference was usually 1-1.25 year and I never saw that oldest kids in the class were the brightest. Can anyone relate to this ?

    • +1

      I started when I was 4 1/2 (late June baby) and was top of my year all the way through. The older children definitely weren't smarter or more mature. I don't think repeating is a solution if the teachers aren't on board but simply changing schools might solve the issues - clean slate and all that.
      Maybe the extra hour not travelling and living closer to new school friends will make it easier to develop better friendships through "play dates".

  • This is controversial because come testing for entry into gifted and talented programs, your child will be at a disadvantage as they have had less time to develop their problem solving skills. Life experience can also help develop it.

    Ignoring other factors. This could mean more money that will have to be paid for private schooling rather than a free gifted and talented school program.

    • the last teacher could give you an insight if your child has the potential to be in the "gifted and talented " pool if he was to repeat. Most children would not - even with 2 or 3 years extra study.

      • +1

        I'm not so sure I agree. You only need to be in the top 10-20% to gain entry into the public gifted system. Usually around 1 in 10 students get into one from what I've seen historically. They might not all get into the top one, but even a crappy selective is better than a normal one.

        From my own experience it is quite easy for people to get into the public programs as long as they have an average score. You get better teachers at selective schools and the competitive environment is what usually propels the students.

        Not replying to you in particular, but if one is creative, they will be best nurtured in the private environment regardless. The public system is no place for a creative person. The scholarship programs at private schools usually take this into account. My friend's son gained entry based on winning a writing competition.

        Personally I prefer the private system with its free gifted and talent program. Not the public one. Give a general ability test to a child when they are 10 and another one at 11. There is usually a big difference in their test scores, general ability aka common sense is usually being developed more intensely around puberty time.

        If it was only a maths and english assessment, I would tend to side with you.

  • +2

    I sympathise with the OP. At that age there would be a huge difference developmentally both physically and mentally between two children one year apart. I am born in July and started education in WA where the policy is (was?) you can start kindy in the calendar year you will turn 5 which I did. That put me in the middle of the pack age wise compared to my class mates.

    We moved to NSW when I was 11 years old and already in year 6 in WA. In NSW the 30 June cutoff meant I would not have been allowed to begin kindy when I did in WA in NSW. So despite being in year 6 in WA, I was put into year 5 when we moved to NSW.

    I was already a bright student in WA and being made to repeat year 5 in NSW meant I went straight to the top of class. So after completely dominating my peers academically and bored out of my skull with the simple year 5 work I begged to be put up to year 6 where I felt I belonged. Someone listened because my wish was granted, however I sometimes wonder how life might have turned out had I not kicked up a fuss.

    You see, I'm a very small build and short but being up to one year older than the youngest in the year 5 class at least allowed me to be middle of the road for height and build in the year 5 class. When I moved up to year 6 again in NSW I went from being the oldest in class to being the youngest. I became the youngest, smallest, puniest boy in my class. I found it hard to make friends with anyone and was bullied and teased by the physically bigger boys. I had no female friends and would not have any till I left high school. I was able to handle the academic workload but socially I could not keep up with the more mature and bigger boys.

    Compare that with when I was in the NSW year 5 class where I was able to turn my dominance of the class academically into popularity by being the "smart kid". I had heaps of friends both boys and girls. Because I was middle of the road for size and height I was not subject to bullying.

  • I was in the same situation, born June 29th, and probably below average academically and in terms of maturity. My sister was doing very well academically. I'm not sure what the reasoning was but my parents decided I should repeat year 2. I probably wasn't happy about it at the time - I can't remember at all - but I ended up dux of my primary school and near the top of the class all through high school. There's no doubt in my mind that in my particular case, my parents made the right decision.

  • +1

    I guess it's one of those sliding doors moment in life, generally boys take more time to develop/mature, so I can understand the rationale behind contemplating the decision, as parents you generally know best.

  • +1

    I think it's fantastic he started school at that age. He is a year ahead. He will grow up. Take it easy and stop pushing him.

    We were in a similar situation, but we skipped a year instead.

    Good luck.

  • +2

    If it helps OP I started school exactly same as your son, instead of repeating a grade my parents made me skip year 5. So I was 1.5yrs younger than almost all my class mates. Finished year 12 at 16. Graduated from university at 20 (turning 21).
    It all worked out well. I think :| ta na dun dun (drum roll)
    Dont stress mate, he'll be fine

  • Interesting situation. I was also a young started, spend the first 3 months of uni as a 17 year old! I even discussed skipping a grade at one stage, Dad said yes but Mum said no (for social reasons). That would have made me 16 years old at Uni! No beer for the first 1.2 years!

    If it were me I'd either not worry about it (only you can know if this is really because you think you're kid is an A+ student but in reality he's a C or not) or send him to a Catholic school.

  • My son is in a similar situation. He is late June and started school early as one of the youngest in his grade. One of his friend born in August of the same year is in a grade lower.

    There are 2 sides to starting early:
    1. Saving preschool for a year which would cost between $,5000 - $10,000.
    2. He won't be anywhere near the top of his class/grade unless he is a genius in which he isn't.

    My son is smart enough but as he lacks maturity and concentration so I worry about him not keeping up with his class every year. Each year we have a discussion with his teacher to see how he is performing. I am satisfied that he is in the middle of the class and above average in some areas. He could be top of his class had he started later but that's the choice we have made.

    As far as I know the school will only allow a child to repeat if and only if the teacher and/or principal agrees that the child is not keeping up. Otherwise the school is not allowed to waste a year of resource to repeat a child.

    I understand the frustration from the OP especially when the OP felt that the child is struggling. There are 2 solutions which I had been thinking of. Repeat a year in a private school or private tutoring if it is legally allowed before going back to the public system. To the OP good luck and please let us know if you have found a solution.

  • +1

    He'll catch up in maturity soon enough, it might be beneficial for him to have a head-start at university/career. It'll also give him bragging rights if he finishes school younger than other people.

    However, it's partly his choice. If he wants to hold back, it should be a greater consideration.

    IMO you cant mess up either way. Don't stress about it.

    • +1

      He may be struggling to keep up with the 12 year olds when he is 11, but I don't see how completing year 12 as an 18 is y.o better than as a 16 or 17 year old.

      If he really needs to complete a year, let him repeat year 12, he can repeat the same subject or do new ones, either way his TER will be higher.

      I think you are doing great with tutoring and sports. Maybe he needs a hobby that interests him.

      Consider throwing away the ipad, and move the computer to the family room. If he wants to play video games get a console, the computer is for work.

  • My 2c:

    I started school at 4.75 years, and did marvellously well academically - smart kid, but distracted easily because the work was too easy and I was bored.

    Fast forward to year 9, I was accepted into an academic selective school based on both creativity and academics. Did not do as well as my peers because I learned I have a stronger creative mind. Changed schools at the start of year 11 to a creative school and blossomed.

    Your son will be just fine as he is. Let him develop into a person, get to know his strengths, play to them…and then let him make his own decisions, what he feels is best for HIMSELF. Decision making is part of his maturing process (I matured a lot at the selective school just finding out who I was and what I was great at, because I learnt to stand out in a sea of discipline :p)

  • +2

    We took our 3 kids out of school & overseas, twice, for 3 & 6 months, when they were in primary school. I asked their teachers if they had any work for them to take, they declined! Their school was the school of LIFE!
    The elder 2 (6 & 8, then 9 & 11) did some basic journal work every day, then we went out on an 'excursion' every afternoon. We did basic literacy/numeracy (reading/writing/money) every day -naturally. When we returned, they had really missed NOTHING, caught up quickly.
    The Australian school system is a strange system. Don't worry about school marks.
    Kids are much happier at school, if they're happy IN THEMSELF. Just let him be.

  • +2

    Send him overseas to learn a second language that he can also learn in school.
    Knowing a second language is totes cray cray in this day and age.

    • Learning a language at school is a joke, he would learn more in a couple months overseas then in the classroom.

      However I wouldn't take a child out of school to learn a language, they have enough holidays for that

      Learning a second language is very beneficial, not because you can communicate with foreigners, it changes how your mind learns. There are studies that show children who know more than one language also do better in unrelated subjects.

  • +1

    I've previously read parents purposely hold back their kids so they start kindy a year later in order for them to be more competitive academically and sports.

    • That's nothing- in the UK people plan pregnancies so that babies are born in the first half of the school year (and preferably the first term) because there is evidence that the academic advantage of this is maintained even up to age 18

      • The way our system works, that would make them the youngest in the class. I assume it is different there?

    • +2

      ^^this 100%. I have seen this first hand. However now he has started school I would be worried he would be bored repeating grade 4 again. While I see your point I think that you have to trust the school if they say he is fine academically and socially, unless you have evidence to the contrary. Has he expressed an interest to repeat grade 4? Has he said he is not understanding the work or has difficulty in social situations? You really do have to trust his teachers and school, they see him with his peers and do deal with some kids who genuinely struggle academically and socially. I have a son the same age as you and they can have short attention spans and act immaturely, I really don't think it is that uncommon.

  • +1

    We were in the opposite situation last year. We relocated from the UK and my youngest daughter was in year 4 at the age of 8 (July). Here they were insisting she should go back 1 year. We asked to keep her in y4 as she had already been in y4 for half a year. The school decision was based on just age, they didn't test my daughter or anything. She has done her first year in Australia no problem and she is very happy. She is not the top of the class, but we are not worried about that. We just want her to be happy and try her best.

  • +1

    Repeating a year can be humiliating as well. It can lead to other types of bullying. It can also tell your child that you don't believe in them. Its basically telling them that you aren't succeeding aka failing. He's not as smart or good as the other people he's grown up with since starting school.

    In my opinion there isn't whole lot of difference in maturity or focus between a single year. a 10yo and a 11yo should not have significant performance differences to the point that it matters when theyve grown up being taught the same things. I'd say its more likely a personal issue. I don't like jumping straight to ADHD but it may be a personal issue. I for example, am a 31yo Uni student. I can pay attention to subjects im really into. But i can not focus on subjects that I hate. particularly if its just someone talking. I need activity even if its practical work. and i was like this all through primary and secondary school. Excelled in subjects i loved, failed or barely passed subjects I didn't give a shit about.

  • -1

    Maybe he needs some out of school tutoring?

    I was born May 29 (couple weeks behind your son) and I never struggled in schooling here and always did reasonably well. Hell, I even was the academic dux in grade 5.

  • +3

    As a teacher with over 30 years experience I would like to add a few points. We all have aspirations for our children to do well but one must remember we cannot live our wants through our children. I consider the most important thing for children is for them to be children. School life is stressful, there is homework, projects to be completed and the added pressures of Naplan tests. Let your son enjoy himself. Ask him what activities he would like to do? Scouts and soccer have been suggested and these activities will both challenge him and develop his confidence. I would not recommend repeating he needs to feel comfortable and maintain the friendships he has formed. A wise person, a teacher, once said to me when I was expressing my concern about one of my own children when they were in primary, "the race has only just started, there is a long way to go." How true those words turned out to be.

    • I have heard of some schools combining grade 4,5 & 6 in a classroom with multiple teachers.

      Doesn't this imply that these grades are largely the same in difficulty?

      In this case repeating a year is a waste of everyone's time

      • If they used the same teaching methods and timing as traditional classrooms to, you would be correct. Actually, 'Vertical classrooms' are designed to allow for differentiation. They allow for more flexibility for the child to learn in different areas at their own rate rather than at the artificial year cycles that traditional schooling calls for.

        • Sounds good in theory, but what happens when a grade 6 student is still at grade 5 level? Does he not get shoved off to high school with the rest of the class?

  • Just my thoughts…but i found back in my day plenty of high school students lacked maturity/concentration/discipline (i went to a selective school, if that adds any weight).
    Another way to consider this…if your child lacks concentration/maturity…wouldn't it be a good thing for him to hang around those who are more disciplined/mature.
    On a somewhat unrelated note. I feel as though I learnt nothing academic in primary school, perhaps because I was forced to study at home…but I guess its shaped my opinion that primary school is a joke, and possibly high school as well. In which case I would not worry too much about holding him back a year.

  • In terms of the impact on psychological development this is a difficult question. The decision isn't one to be taken likely.

    In academic terms, I'm sure you've Googled (or thought about Googling) studies on those kids that repeated grades in their early years. It's very hard to create an objective trial that realistically takes into account equivalent academic ability and socioeconomic status, but every now and then a report will come out saying don't do it. The psychological impact of repeating a grade can do more harm than good. But of course most kids that repeat a grade were struggling.

    On the flipside, other studies have found that early puberty plays out a lot better for boys than for girls (except when it comes to substance abuse…). In your son's case he is statistically likely to hit puberty later than his peers and this may affect his relative sporting abilities in the first year of high school.

    I heard a lot of rural schools have mixed-grade classes out of necessity. But when it comes down to it, academic and sporting measures never really matter in the end. And even a mentally stable adult can tell you in 20 years from now from making "that" stupid decision, whatever it may be.

  • Suggest OP read the book "Outliers" which, among other things, talks about the slight advantage more mature students have compounding into a large advantage because of the increased attention and opportunities the top kids get. I think it will make you even more determined to repeat the year.

    • 'maturity' is also affected by social factors and attitudes (which can be taught)

      . Discipline is separate to age, and is far more important for success than academic results, and intelligence.

      • My bad choice of words - by maturity I meant age, which at 9 years old can mean a 10% difference in age between students in the same year. 10% is starting to get insignificant, but when he started school, the other kids in the same had already an extra year of development - major when you're only 5.

  • I have a friend in my year group who is a year younger than normal like your kid, even in Uni he is more driven and studious than me, and I never would have guessed that he is a year younger than me, so you never really know! I think the kid should decide ultimately, I sure hope you didn't put ideas into his head that it is a good for him to repeat a year… If nothing is currently wrong you may actually be making a bad decision by repeating him, but then again in some cases it could be beneficial, so it's a tough one. Also instead of making the kid repeat a year you could just fast track his maturity process through certain toughening experiences :)

  • I was in the same position when I was in year 4. Ok on paper, but dreadfully low self esteem and a social disaster. My parents wanted me to stay down a year to catch up. They took me to see a paediatrician and used his advice as leverage with the school. Best decision ever.
    But ended up changing schools. Would've been really difficult otherwise.

  • I know plenty of people who were your son's age in my graduating year (I.e. very young compared to the rest, april/may/june birthdays) and they never had any issues. In fact, many of them are far above average in terms of both academic and social abilities. The only annoyance for them was in year 12 they only turned 17, not 18, so couldn't go out on the town.. which might actually be a benefit during year 12 studies for your son.

    I wouldn't push it if the teachers are saying not to do it… Just take a step back and consider your opinion simply may be wrong, and that all of these people saying you shouldn't force him to repeat a year might just be right.

    • It's not really about the plenty of people you know who did fine in the same position. It's more about this child who isn't doing fine.

      • Except that the teachers (professionals) have said that he IS doing fine..

        • Teachers are experts in teaching and academic performance. Sometimes they've excellent at judging a child's social development, but not always. It's not necessarily their area of specialty. Sometimes it's worth outsourcing.

  • +1

    Seriously..these days all the parents are just paranoid when it comes to their kids…seriously he's only year 4, why fix an unbroken thing? Just let him grow up naturally…I'm sure he will grow up just fine..

  • Short attention span - could be he is just bored too. Making him take year 4 again is gonna make him more lazy. Our curriculum in schools ain't that hard compared to most countries. Better to make him take up sports, music or anything extra other than studies. Unless there is a case of him being taken on by his class mates because he is younger there is no point in worrying.

  • Sorry, might be a bit late to this, but I was born in October (started school at 4 years old), and never had any real issues (a tiny bit of English based stuff in year 2) and generally did quite well academically. It ends up making no difference in high school.

    I think while you've asked your son it seems like you're the kind of parent who might be pressuring him, and he may just be giving you the answer you want to hear (I've definitely done this as a timid child)

    Worst case if he doesn't get a high enough ATAR in 7 years time he can repeat year 12 again, which would have a much bigger impact on his new ATAR than having him repeat now. But this, again, should be his decision. Uni isn't right for everyone.

  • What a very strange thread.. every kid is different, I think a lot changes once you hit year 7 onwards. The issue is that OP is trying to compare their kid to the others, just let him be, he'll grow into himself and will become more mature naturally. Obviously you will have the odd kid who some how acts 15/16 at 10, but you can't expect your kid to be everything.

    Overall, DON'T repeat. As others have said, I've had friends who were born in july/august and they as normal as the student who was in the older year group.

  • My son starts in Kindy as the youngest and he has been top of the class since. Don't think age is a problem. Probably that's how he is and staying back another year won't change that.

    He's doing ok, let him be.

  • Haven't read all the replies, but our youngest is in a similar situation being a mid May baby in WA.

    He is turning 7 this year and he is one in the lower group of students academically in his class whilst his two older sisters are high achievers. Sports wise, he was very timid as his peers in footy and basketball have always been a bit bigger.

    Anyway, we spoke to the school a couple of years ago and they put him in a split kindy and pre-primary class instead of a full pre-primary class. This gave him an experience of being among the bigger/older PP kids and also some extra teaching time with the PP kids only coming to school half a week.

    It made a big difference for him socially and developmentally.

    The other thing to do (may have already been said) is to go get a private education psychologist assessment. Our middle child is gifted and in the early years, the school thought she was stubborn and disinterested (she was bored). Once we had the psych report, we sat down with the school and they made a new educational plan for her and she has blossomed since.

  • I have a 6 and 3 year old. One is much more advanced in literacy and numeracy than at the same age.

    Fact is, the school will let you know of there's a problem.

    You really don't need to worry about things like grades until they hit high school.

  • I am a university lecturer and i see 19 to 20 year old men coming out of high school and starting 1st year uni. THEY ARE TOO OLD!!!!
    No longer school boys, now 'school men'. I am not sure on the specifics of your child, however across the board young people are being institutionalised into adulthood and the ramifications are serious, for both men and women. These days an undergraduate probably holds the same value a HSC did 25 years ago (most have one). So this puts pressure to go further and get a post grad. Assuming no breaks, gap year or failing, a undergrad is another 3-4 years. By the time kiddies have a degree they are hitting mid 20's. Do post grad and you getting close to 30.
    My advice is not to 'hold the kid back' unless they are really struggling. It is later on when you have your 19 year old man turning up to school with his packed little lunch that is a worry.

    • What do you teach?

      • Politics, International relations, history… Do research in heath science now

  • I had my son and daughter repeated by moving to another school nearby because the Dept. of Edu would not allow repeat at the same school due to quota, I think. Some schools has zone restriction and some don't. I am afraid you have ask the school individually.

  • I was a year younger than the other people in my grade, i didnt find any issues with it, I couldn't go out when all my friends turned 18, but that was about it.
    let him find his feet, everyone learns differently, maybe help him with homework or get a tutor.
    Have you thought he might be teased as "the kid who failed year 4". Thats pretty funny and the more i think about it the more ridiculous it seems to keep him back. who fails year 4

  • similar thing happened to me, i was 1.5 years younger than everyone in my class i did fine. DOnt worry about it.

  • +2

    TBH it sounds like your son is an average academic achiever and you are not happy with that. Realise even if you repeat him there is no guarantee he will then be all of a sudden a brilliant academic. I would suggest building his confidence at home and encouraging the areas where his strengths lie. My daughter is average at school but is awesome in sport and creative stuff… So she has after school activities in gym cheerleading, art and theatre… Maybe your ideas of success need to be reassessed?

  • +4

    OP are you asian by any chance?

  • I went to school at 4 as my parents, one of whom is a teacher, thought it was the right decision. Aside from the size difference, I don't feel it affected me in any way. I finished high school and obtained my chosen degree with fairly minimal effort. It seems to me the OP is looking for outright dominance by his child over his classmates. If I had been repeated by my parents, even at year 5, I would likely resent it to this day. Every kid is different and maybe other kids wouldn't see it the same way, but ask a school kid and they'll tell you that 'dumb' kids repeat and I'd rather just be smaller than have that moniker.

  • +1

    I'm shocked at all the negative responses to your post.

    One of my parents is a primary school teacher. There is a trend for many parents to hold their boys back an extra year in kinder before starting prep. This has a massive impact on those who start "young" - the physical and emotional differences in children 1 year apart in age are significant and it greatly impacts their experiences across all elements of schooling. The anecdotal evidence shows the "older" kids on average perform better and are more successful socially.

    reading Malcolm Gladwell's book on Outliers also discusses this phenomenon in detail - sporting stars are often the eldest in their classes…greater physically size meant they were better than younger classmates and were therefore always invited into the "A" grade teams for their year levels…with the best coaches and training….a compounding effect over time enabling greater success upon reaching adult level competition.

    Trust your gut as a parent, you know your child better than anyone. I suspect you will need to resort to the catholic school as they are generally more flexible than state schools. Otherwise, call up different state school principals until you find one willing to accept your wishes.

    • Thanks and I appreciate your input.

    • I'm sorry but strongly disagree.
      Starting kids late may seem like a good idea at the time but it's later in life that it hits home.
      Mums in my opinion don't need any encouragement not to let go, so to speak.
      Men at 19 in high school is a worry. The transition from a boy to q man is a social skill that needs to occur outside of school.
      I was in first year uni at 17, had my degree by 20. I was not alone, many of my friends were the same.
      Be careful… you could wind up with a boy trapped in a mans body.

      • +1

        Just because you turned out ok doesn't mean someone else will.

        In addition back in the day - you are obviously in your 20s or 30s, people did not tend to hold their boys back and therefore it was likely you were in a class with multiple "young" starters.

        These days it's totally different - a very large proportion of boys are held back by their parents…this means that if you sent a "young" kid to school he will be in a class where EVERYONE is much older and much more physically mature.

    • I also disagree with this… Every one keeps talking about sporting disadvantage and team disadvantage… In NSW kids are placed in teams and compete according to the ages he child turns regardless of the year they r in at school… Eg my child who turned 5 in Jan but is attending kindergarten will compete against others turning 5 not the other kids in kinder who may be turning 6, same in other team sports….. So I really don't get the argument for repeating leading to increasing competitiveness in sport… Also the sporting examples provided by Gladwell are American based…totally different educational systems than Aus…so are they relevant?

      • Physical ability is linked to emotional maturity and ability to perform in class. Older kids have the physical endurance to last longer in class without being tired. They are also better at being able to focus and listen without being distracted. There is a MASSIVE difference in the brain development of a 5 year old vs a 6 year old.

  • Also, he is moving completely to a different school.

    I gather you can't make him go into the same year at the new school?

  • +4

    Teacher here and also an August baby who started at age 4. I do not recommend repeating unless your child is severely falling behind. It is only in extreme cases that it is considered by the teacher and principal. With the information you have given, it is not worth it in the long run to hold your son back. Personally, my parents wanted to hold me back in year 1 but ultimately let me stay with my cohort. I ended up excelling starting in year 4 and with some tutoring and decent work habits, I made it into a selective school. I have a short attention span and can't sit still even now, but that's just part of my personality. I'm good at some things and not so good at others. If you hold your son back, you are limiting his social growth, as ironic as it sounds, and it is also embarrassing, which may affect social behaviour and self esteem.

    As a teacher, I would recommend that you speak to the teacher and ask what support he gets in class and how you can supplement his learning outside of school. If your son doesn't feel like anything is impacting him other than performing slightly below class standards (or your own for that matter), then don't push the idea.

  • +2

    "Making students repeat a year when they’re not doing well socially or academically is not uncommon in Australia. About 8-10% of students repeat a grade at some point in school life.

    But there is a major assumption underlying the practice – it is thought that retaining students in a grade for an extra year provides the opportunity to catch up with other students socially, physically, behaviourally, and emotionally. Not to mention keeping up with the curriculum.

    The evidence

    But research into grade retention shows that in the main, it can have a negative impact on students’ academic outcomes."

    Andrew Martin
    Professorial Research Fellow, University of Sydney

    Full article:

  • My daughters were both the youngest in the year level and did extremely well academically. They didn't start doing well in school till later grades of primary school and all of high school. I know it is hard, but it will work out OK.

    My son repeated year 1, but this was the schools choice and the best decision. My son has autism. He has no idea that he repeated and has no concept that it is even an issue. Really not a good thing to do to a child that knows what is going on.

  • +1

    Have you tried to address why your kid is having trouble concentrating? My friend told me about someone he knew who's kid was diagnosed with ADHD. A big part of it was that he was having trouble concentrating. They didn't want to medicate their kid, so they sought a second opinion. They discovered that it was not ADHD, rather the kid was having a lot of trouble sleeping, which led to a lack of concentration throughout the day. The resolution? Diet. The kid was having too much sugar day to day, which kept him up at night…

    Have you thought about anything like this?

    • Thanks.. I will have a look at this direction. Appreciate your help.

    • if he had adhd the teachers would know for sure!

  • Me and all my friends started school earlier than we were supposed to it wasn't an issue, I know lots of people who I didn't go to school with who started school earlier as well and it wasn't an issue. It's only primary school leave your son where he is I personally think holding a kid back for lack of attention span etc is a bit of an overreaction and it certainly wouldn't make him feel better about himself. He's in primary school it's only primary school let him have fun and let him prosper at his own pace.

  • +2

    It might be worthwhile doing some research about repeating a year and academic progress.

    Hattie's meta-analysis reveals repeating a year level has had a negative impact on academic progress and "negatively correlated with social/emotional adjustment, behavior, and self-concept."

    He is just one researcher in the field though.

    Obviously YMMV, DYOR.

  • +1

    Hi OP
    I'd recommend allowing your boy to progress at the normal rate and support him as much as possible. I don't see a reason to do the damage of forcing him to accept the personal failure of repeating a year just based on a "feeling" that he's not doing as well as you expect. Also I am not aware of any evidence to suggest that repeating a year will improve the situation though the change of school might. 1 year difference in age is not a big difference at all, the quality of teachers and many other factors are much more critical. The travel time would be a big factor too.


  • most parents try to get their kids to skip a grade whilsts you ate the opposite. a few mths age difference isn't detrimental to his learning. If he fail the. he can repeat. You should be happy to hear good reports from his teachers.

    Also did you even discuss this with your son? my son started year 5 this year and if i told him to repeat tr 4 he would be very hurt and confused. That's more detrimental than anything else!

    you guys made a mistake putting him in school early so deal with it. dont punish the kid.

  • -2

    I was 16 when I graduated high school, I'd moved out of home and finished my first year of university before I could buy alcohol or vote. I don't think it hurt me at all.

  • If you ever get caught in this tress situation, Think only one thing that refreshes you most..like——""I LOVE SEX"'

  • I was born at the end of November when the cut-off used to be December 31. I was placed in school as soon as it was possible, and I believe I would have fared better academically had I been held back a year. The lack of maturity compared to my peers throughout my school life is something I am only aware of now that I'm out of school, and it did hinder me a lot. I always had my birthday around the same time kids were having their next birthdays. However, I don't think you should keep him back.

    Academic prowess can be hindered by many obstacles, not just age. Teaching your child the skills of prolonged concentration (using a clock to time how long he spends on school-related tasks), development of handwriting stamina (this NEEDS to be reinforced at home as it's very hard for children with poor fine motor skills to keep up with peers - reinforce homework and writing activities: get him to write your shopping lists/notes, encourage him to draw and paint and hold his writing tools properly, use scissors, etc), and reading every night for half an hour is a great idea. These things helped me to keep up in school. If I'd been kept back, I'd never have met my best friend, never have met my fiance, and life would be very different at the expense of those things for potentially better grades. It's up to you - but I don't think holding him back a year will result in any major benefits. You just have to reinforce home learning.

    My $0.02!

  • +1

    I used to work in schools as a speech pathologist, working alongside psychologists, and would assess students with learning difficulties and disabilities as part of the job. The thinking from the psychologists was that there was no evidence of a benefit for repeating a year level, even for students performing well below their grade level (which your son is not). The reasoning being that if a student is struggling academically (and from what you have written, your son is not), they're still going to be struggling if you drop them down a year (any perceived benefit will be short-lived)/they will need an individualised curriculum anyway. Also, it reinforces to your child that they're a failure/that they've failed in some way if they are made to repeat a year, which can negatively affect their self-esteem and confidence. I remember reading some research article suggesting that students who repeat a year of school are more likely to leave school early/before graduating, so there are significant risks to doing this, as well.

    I don't think extra tutoring is a good idea at your son's age either, unless he has significant difficulty with reading/spelling or numeracy. Play, pursuing non-academic hobbies etc. outside of school are also important for a child's development, and I would hold off on the extra tutoring unless there's a real need.

    Most of the kids I used to assess were well below average academically, and so when I encountered a student who was average I would think to myself that they're so smart/they know so much. Your teachers would have let you know by now if your child was below average. It seems you're overthinking this.

    Travelling an hour (each way?) to school seems too much for a 10 year old if you have access to schools nearby that aren't bad. He must be tired when he gets home after such a long journey.

    I encountered a tiny handful of students who repeated a year of schooling, and most of the time, they had an (intellectual) disability (or autism) anyway, so I don't see how repeating helped. There was one instance I remember being involved in a parent meeting where it was mentioned that the student was repeating next year, and I remember thinking to myself 'you've got to be kidding. This kid has an intellectual disability and they're never going to 'catch-up' to their same-aged peers, so what's the point?' It seemed to be more about appeasing the parents than what the student needed.

  • Please disregard anyone telling you that your child's teacher knows better than you how your child is doing in school.
    We faced the same situation as you with our daughter. We ultimately moved her to a different school and just told them she would be in year 3 (in our case). The education dept never entered into the equation. Admittedly, we are in QLD but I don't know that the systems can be that different. I wish you luck and don't give up on your boy.

  • +1

    I've been thinking about this a bit more and I now think that if you do decide to hold your son back then you must do it at a new school.

    I read a lot of comments here where the poster is saying it doesn't really do any good. My theory is that if you repeat a grade at your existing school, all the students there will know about it. You will be dubbed the "dumb" kid who had to repeat. Even if you do better academically you could be subject to teasing and bullying because you're the dumb repeater. This would obviously affect your confidence.

    However, if you made your son repeat but with a fresh start at a new school then the slate is wiped clean. No one there has to know your son ever repeated. So if he starts to excel he'll be the "smart new kid" not the "dumb repeater". If the plan works he'll become the alpha male of the year laying the platform for future success.

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