Since September 2018 there is only one entry point into the ECCE scheme
This has upset many parents with children with birthdays between January and March especially.
Previously there were three entry points – September for children with birthdays to the end of August, January for children with birthdays to the end of December and April for children with birthdays to the end of March.
Now if a parent chooses to send their child to school at four and a half (if they have a birthday in January or after) instead of waiting until five and a half then the child will only be entitled to one free year in Montessori. If they want to send them to Montessori for longer then they will have to pay for it.
I think what the government is trying to do is encourage parents to hold off on sending a child to school until they are closer to five. So, if the birthday is before 31st December send at five or nearly five. If their birthday is after that then wait until the following year.
I have seen comments that parents are unhappy with the new scheme as they don’t want to wait until the child is five and a half to send to school.
And I have seen comments that it is better for the child to wait to go to school, maybe not for junior infants but later years. Especially to give maturity doing Leaving Certificate and going to college.
If what the government is trying to do is encourage parents to wait, then maybe they should just come out and officially say that is what parents should be doing. Some parents with children in those months especially will be different – some will send at four and a half, and some at five and a half so in a Junior Infants classroom the teachers will have to deal with children with a year age gap.
Then on the other side whereas previously a child did not enter a Montessori setting until at least three now there will be children from as young as two and eight months.
How will that impact on the Montessori setting? Will those children be old enough for that? Also, will a Montessori have to now agree to take on a child that is not potty trained? My older children were not potty trained until closer to three.
For me personally this scheme suits me better. My son has a September birthday and to guarantee him a place I had to pay for him from September to January and then he was free from the January.
My daughter that has a birthday around the same time will be free from September. She will have two free years of Montessori and then start school at nearly five.
How does this new single-entry point system impact on you? Do you agree with it? Or are you one of those unhappy parents with children with birthdays in those months?
Or if you do have a child with a birthday between January and March are you happy to wait and send your child that bit older?
I wonder if instead of cutting down from three entry points to just one could they have cut down to two entry points – September for birthdays up until the 31st December and January for birthdays to the 31st March. I think most parents with children with April birthdays (and after) wait until the following year to send to school anyway.
Or is the whole country willing to wait to send our children to school at five if they have a birthday after 31st December? I don’t think we are quite there yet.