So we did it! One whole extra year at home and we are starting school this week!
My daughter is five years and two months old and has just started reception year after making the decision to delay her entry to school.
So after many conversations with other parents about delaying and deferring a child's entry to school and after a whole year of fun at home and another baby we are finally here at the starting block ready to go to school.
And do you know what? Nobody batted an eyelid! No one asked, the teachers didn't ask, the children didn't notice and neither did the other parents, she is happy and excited to be ready to start school!
How does it feel? The uniform is neatly folded and the book bag is waiting packed and ready, name labels steam ironed into seams and school shoes shiny and new in the corner.
Of all the feelings I anticipated the anxiety, sadness, fear and joy actually the most overwhelming emotion for me is pride.
I feel so proud of our little girl, that she is just so amazing! No one starts out on this journey to parenthood with a guide to how it works, lots of people give advice (some better than others) many judge you and disagree and lots of people question you when you choose to home school, delay or defer.
Even as a teacher, someone who knows that it is all about individual children, someone who has seen first hand the pressures on children and their families, it is still really hard to break from the crowd and say "No! This isn't right for my child, she needs more time and maybe so do I and that's actually okay thank you very much".
So standing in the porch getting the obligatory first day of school picture yes I felt pride - pride that we have managed to raise an independent, beautiful, clever, unique and spirited child and also pride that we did what we know was right for her.
So did any of the fortune tellers get it right?
Will she be bored? No, she is excited, she has a great teacher and actually all of the children are at different learning stages regardless of age.
Will she be the odd one out? No, the other children don't know or care that her birthday is in July and not September!
Won't she have to go into year one? No! We are very lucky in that the LEA do not put up a fight when it comes to delaying and you simply apply the year later. She has gone into reception and no one has even mentioned the fact that she has had a flexible school entry.
But wasn't she bored at home? I find the idea that children need constant stimulation frankly quite bizarre. If you were given a year off work would you not want to do it because you would be bored? I doubt it! Our extra year has been very full of; day trips, holidays, lie ins, movie nights, library visits, learning to swim, learning to ride a bike oh and a new baby in the house! Bored is not a word we hear often!
Arent you worried? No!! This is the start of so many questions that I have heard over the last year from other parents who have considered delaying or deferring however seriously. The truth is we can't worry because actually things happen, some children miss time at school and others have a bad year or a not so great teacher, some children change schools others are lonely. We can't worry about tomorrow today, all we can do is do the best for our children now!
What would I say to other parents and families thinking of flexible school entry?
I say go for it! I have no regrets! We feel positive about the future. We have had no tears and actually since when did we normalise that? Perhaps some children cry because they aren't ready.
As a parent you are the person that has your child's back, for all the well meaning friends, teachers and professionals - you are the one that matters, it is your voice that they hear inside themselves when they feel doubt, worry or courage. It is your warmth and comfort that makes them feel safe, you are the one with the power, the responsibility and the love to help them form their little world and shape their future - you know them best and when the time comes for school, whatever you decide it will be the right thing for your child.