My son the prodigy


Like many new parents I was convinced my child was gifted.
More so than yours. And yours. And even yours I’m afraid. Yes really.
Was it in his genes? Was it good fortune? Was it something I ate in the nine months prior?
We’ll never know. All I know is that his ability to stack blocks was far superior to the rest of the crèche.
So when the time came to enrol him in school I did what any mother of a super-gifted child would do – I asked the school to consider allowing him to start a year early.
Really I did. I wrote a heartfelt, impassioned letter outlining my case for early access.
I told the school principal how my son could recite his ABCs from a ridiculously young age. How he showed a surprising understanding of Parliamentary Question Time for someone so young; and if the principal would just have us in for a meeting he too would soon be dazzled by my boy’s brilliance.
I may have also mentioned that my son had in fact only missed out on the preceding school year by two days – he was born on July 2 – and why should a silly birth date force him to be handicapped by a whole 12 months?
Had someone mentioned to me before kids that the QLD school year cut-off is June 30 I would have requested an induction date of June 28 and not July 2.
My pleas were politely declined and FINALLY in 2011 my son started Prep, just as the State Government said he should.

Since then it has become apparent that my son was actually not gifted, he was just an ordinary boy with talent in some areas and moderate ability in others. (It’s taken months of therapy to be able to write that sentence.)
Has he been handicapped by the 12-month delay to his schooling? I don’t think so.
In fact the further we delve into the world of education, the more I believe being the oldest kid in the class has its advantages.
And as his prep teacher told me early on, there’s more to success than intellectual achievement.
Emotional maturity is also so important and boys find theirs later in life … as is evidenced by the amount of poo, fart and doodle jokes I must endure in my all-boy house.
I was however comforted to read an article this week that proved I’m not the only Queensland parent who believes their child is a prodigy.
Turns out Education Queensland is often contacted by parents desperate for their kids to start school early.
An EQ brief to Education Minster John-Paul Langbroek said the department receives requests for early entry to Prep every year and this year and most of them are met with a NO.
In fact this year just 14 out of 46,356 state school pupils started school early under the government’s legal exceptions.
Now either there’s 14 women out there who really are mums of prodigies, or they’re just more forceful than me.
Apparently one of the most common motivations for parents seeking early access to education for their kids is to avoid paying exorbitant kindergarten and childcare fees.
I can’t say I am missing the confusing and expensive world of childcare fees, childcare rebates and tricky scheduling. I do wonder if the government should be doing more to relieve working families of this burden?

The EQ briefing goes on to say it is preferable for students of the same age to go through school together and that early childhood education programs should be able to cater for gifted children.
Now that I’m a few years into the schooling journey I realise how quickly these years pass and suspect that by the time my sons are in year 12 I’m going to wish they were back in prep.
To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson – Life is a journey, not a destination.

This column appeared in the Gold Coast Bulletin. Read my parenting column, Family Matters, every Wednesday. 


  • Belinda

    I am so happy to read this! It is perfect timing as I have been weighing up the pros and cons for our June 19 baby who does indeed make the cut off and could start school next year at the age of 4.5.

    Although our first-born March baby started school when she was still only 4, and we have no regrets, I have been convinced we should hold off our boy until he is 5.5 for no other reason than it will be better for him when he is older.

    He is a different personality to our cautious, follow the rule book, please-the-parents daughter.Our youngest is an adventure seeker, confident, prefers to make people freak out or laugh than do what he is told and to my husband’s mocking I have been taking all elements of schooling into consideration including who he may be friends/peers with when he is in his mid-to-late teens and they are all driving cars, partying, jumping off bridges etc… I am thinking he should perhaps be a year older in his common sense/judgement development rather than one of the younger ones.

    So I was rather mortified to be told by his pre-school (kindy) teachers that despite their advice on enrolment he is in fact ready and rearing for school – socially, emotionally and academically

    After making our mind up to hold him back I am now fighting myself over the fear he is currently a sponge, desperate to learn to read, to count, to ask questions and perhaps by holding him back I will miss that springboard he is ready to leap onto and he will end up bored and no longer interested in learning.

    That said after talks with his future school teachers and other child care providers who know him we will hold him back and hope we are doing the right thing. Your column helps reassure us we won’t regret it.