At what age should you start school? When should the freedom of digging in the sand, stories on Mummy’s lap and hours spent playing with trains end? In Germany it’s at seven that you move from Kindergarten to formal learning. In Scandinavia it’s a similar age, with the added bonus of school only in the mornings. My youngest child will be 4 on 27th July. He’ll start full time ‘big’ school with his brother and sister just over a month later.
I was chatting on Twitter with Paula about this the other day. She is in the same position as me of having her youngest child, a summer baby, also starting school in September. I jokingly said that our round the world trip was planned entirely so that Dickon would miss most of his first year of school, to put off the moment when I finally let go of my children’s infancy, their long days at home.
But I wasn’t really joking. OK, so the reason for taking our trip does not entirely pivot around one child’s schooling. However, the timing of it, and a strong desire to hold onto my children a little longer, to have them with me for more of their childhood, they were key reasons for embarking on this undertaking.
Our children go to a very good school, which they enjoy and we are happy with. But I wish they had more time at home. That we had more flexibility. If it’s a sunny day, we can’t just hop on a train to the seaside to spend the day poking about in rock pools, if they feel like reading all day, it’s not an option. I realise that it’s disruptive for schools if children do not attend regularly. And I know that I am not cut out for full-time home schooling. I don’t think my patience or the kitchen floor could take the mess and chaos that would ensue. But I do wish that we all had more time together, that I didn’t feel that other people are getting the best of my children.
And I particularly wish that my baby, my little baby, who I held in my arms as a newborn such a short time ago, could stay with me a little longer. So I’ve concocted a plan. It involves three continents, nine countries and five backpacks. How I’ll cope when we come back, I have no idea.
If any politicians could give me the answer to that, I’ll happily vote for them.
This blog post is sponsored by Giraffe Preschools.