Although babies born in January are considered academically lucky, they can also bear the brunt of primary 1 admissions; thanks to their birth month. Specifically, if your child was born on January 1, they would be legally required to enter primary school a whole year ahead of their peers.
While you can seek this deferment from the Ministry of Education (MOE), for most parents of January babies, an early P1 registration can be confusing for parents.
So if you have a child who was born on January 1, here’s all you need to know about starting one year ahead. We will also discuss its advantages and disadvantages to help you make an informed decision.
When Does My January-Born Child Need To Enter Primary School?
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As mentioned before, children born on January 1, will have to enter primary school earlier than their peers born in the same year.
So for instance, if your child was born on January 1, 2016, then they would already be six years by January 2022 before the new school year. This makes them eligible for Primary 1 along with children born in 2015.
Most parents would enter their January 1-born child as scheduled. Although there are also those who can choose to delay their child’s entry to Primary 1 and just opt to enrol them the next year.
If in this instance, you want your child to start primary school in 2023, you will have to undergo the following:
Parents who want to delay their child’s entry to primary school will have to seek a deferment from MOE.
Children who have their birthday on January 1 already have this listed as a reason on the official deferment application form. This makes the process hassle-free for parents.
Parents who want to apply for a deferment will have to do so between January and September the year before your child is due to start Primary 1.
This also goes for children starting Junior 1 in a special education school.
Should January-Born Babies Start Primary School A Year Early?
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To answer whether January-born babies should enter primary school earlier alongside ‘older’ peers, you will need to check with you child’s educators. Take into consideration their recommendation for their school outcome.
Find out if your child is doing well in preschool –both academically and social skills-wise – or if you should consider keeping them in preschool for one additional year.
If your child is doing well in preschool, then you might want to register them for primary school early – or in this case, right on schedule.
To further help you decided, consider a 2009 report that stated that out of 100 parents questioned “80 parents chose to enrol their Jan 1-born children a year earlier, with only 20 opting to delay schooling.”
But take note that every child is different whether they start a little earlier at school or not.
Advantages Of Starting School A Whole Year Later
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Children born on January 1, have the unique choice of enrolment to Primary 1. Let’s say you decided to defer and enrol your child the next year. In this case, your child will have a ‘relative age advantage.’
Based on your child’s growth and development– he/she may have an easier time with academics and cumulative advantage in sports as well. Plus, it also helps that one year may give him/her an edge over ‘lesser advanced peers’ when it comes to social and communication skills.
With your and that of his/her teacher’s positive reinforcement, the child may even show better results as compared to the peers. In fact, the report by the Ministry of Education showed that “babies born in January perform better academically than those born in December. The study compared the year-end results of the 1993 cohort of Primary 4 and 6 pupils against their birth dates.”
In another study from the US on relative age advantage it was proved that “the number of CEOs born in June and July is disproportionately small relative to the number of CEOs born in other months.” (In the US school system those born un July and June are the youngest in the class and equivalent to Singapore’s November and December babies).
While these studies certainly prove that a relative age is advantageous, MOE recommends that you still observe your child for his/her academic and social skills to make an informed decision.
Alternatively, you can also enrol your child in the Primary 3 Gifted Education Programme screening tests. It is the most cost-effective and hassle-free method to get your child assessed.
All of these factors together place parents of January-born babies in a unique position. Therefore, you must make this decision with great care and consider all aspects of your child’s growth and development before enrolment.