For kids, all birthdays come with a certain hype.

But there's nothing like the added excitement of a fifth birthday.

Perhaps not so much if it falls in the school holidays, but it's almost a rite of passage for youngsters to get up on their fifth birthday, tear open presents (which often consist of the token school preparation gift like a pencil case) and don their uniform ready for their first day at school.

There's the tears at the gate (from the kid, the parents, or both) and the nerves that come with the milestone finally being reached. But that could be all about to change with a proposal to start 5-year-olds in groups on set dates, rather than individually on their birthdays.


The change, part of the first update of the Education Act in 26 years being considered by Education Minister Hekia Parata, has won support, with some principals backing the idea.

It's all about making the move to school "less stressful and isolating" for new students.

The logic really can't be argued with too much.

Many of us know what walking into a workplace on the first day of a new job is like - and we're adults. Starting at a new school with no little buddies is a pretty big ask for kids who can barely write their own name.

Principals make a fair point when they talk about the logistics of having to induct kids to the class and repeat the same messages over and over again. I can see all the positives, I've had one of those shy kids who has been anxious starting on the first day.

Would it have made a difference if he'd started in a group? I'm not entirely sure.

The first day of school will always be special, but instead of the anticipation knowing that it will come on the birthday, it's going to be down to a set day which will fall at the hands of the school. The move is probably a wise one, but it doesn't mean I'm not a little sad about it.