Thoughts on summer births

Any woman will tell you that it is horrific to have a baby at the end of the summer. The heat, the heat, and oh yeah, the heat. Well, I had a baby at the end of one of the hottest summers on record. (And yes, that makes me better than all of you, in case you were wondering.) But I survived, and the purpose of this post is to generate discussion on whether or not I should put him in school right when he's only been 5 for a week, or wait a year, and put him in when he's 6. I'm going to be sexist here, and say if it was a girl, I wouldn't even think about it, just put her right in kindergarten. But coordination and sports are (generally! I'm speaking generally!) more important to boys, and driving and dating is harder for a guy to wait until his junior year, and actually, the kicker for me, is the mission. You see, I really think it's valuable for a man to have at least some college before his mission. And if I put him in school right when he's 5, he'll have a full year after he graduates, and have some more experience to take to the world. Of course, his schooling will have to take a break, but that's not uncommon for Mormon men. But if I wait, and give him the benefit of being bigger, older, and more coordinated (hopefully) throughout his schooling, then he'll be nineteen shortly after he graduates, and off he'll go! (Taking agency into consideration, of course. There's no guarantee that my son will want to go on a mission, but hey, I've got to be positive, right?) My son has yet to turn two, so I know stressing about this now can only take years off my life, but I do think about it quite a bit, and ask everybody I know who had a boy in the summer - or early fall - what decision they made and why they made it. Was the kid so ready for school that you were going to pummel him if he stayed home another year? Did not having to worry about college applications right away, knowing the mission was coming first, help or hurt? And how did you know what to do? Of course it's kid specific, but really, what is the deciding factor here?


Anonymous Andrea Wright said...

I will face that same issue, only my son's birthday is in June. I think I'll make that decision based on where he's at developmentally and in size (which I agree is more signficiant for boys.) As for the the mission thing, I've actually heard parents who had thought a year of college would be an advantage change their tune. Their take on it was it was one more year they held their breath, one more year for him to date and get distracted.

3/08/2005 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Julie M. Smith said...

I'd wait until it is time and then decide based on height and maturity.

The danger of starting him late, if he is a head taller than his peers, is that he might be thought to have been 'held back,' and once labelled, these things are hard to shake.

It may also matter if you have fullday Kindergarten in your area. Many barely 5yo boys would NOT do well with a seven hour day.

Of course, you could always homeschool and avoid all this ;)

3/08/2005 03:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely at 5yrs old, it's always cooler to be considered mature beyond your years :)


3/08/2005 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

My mother-in-law chose to hold her boys back if they were born in the summer... I agree with Julie and; I'd wait until closer to the time and wait and see if your son can manage it. Granted, your perception might be off... I was convinced that my oldest couldn't handle full-day kindergarten. She proved me wrong.

3/08/2005 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Ok, Julie, I am so NOT home schooling...I want my children to survive their school age years.

Although I know women who home school their kids and love it, I just don't think I have the patience for it.

I do agree that I'll have to wait and see until I make the final decision, I'm just one of those people who likes lots and lots of input.

3/08/2005 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jahn said...

Obviously, it's best to wait and see, but my inclination would be to wait for the following school year. IMO, it's better to be the oldest kid in the class than the youngest.

3/08/2005 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

My first two kids have October birthdays. I was NOT thrilled.
Positives IMO:
They don't have to wait as long to date, drive, etc.
They are the smartest/ahead of others during the first few years (only)

Negatives IMO:
You have an 18 year old man/ woman for a full year that senior year o high school before they get to go to college. It's kind of hard to insist that adults live rules.
If your kids are smart anyway, they go to school for years in elementary where school is easy. They don't even have to try because they are ahead of everyone. Then comes high school and college and they aren't sure how to "work at it" since they are so used to working under their ability level.
My kids may be the first one to hit puberty. Its hard to be the first to have to wear a bra, etc.
My daughter will be so much taller than the boys in her grade her whole life. (She should be 5'11")
My son will always look like he was held back a year.

My daughter is a full head taller than everyone. She's the smartest in the class. Socially, I wouldn't say she's advanced, so she's pretty much right on.
My son has a speech disorder and the fact that he's behind his age in language will mean that being the oldest he'll fit right in this fall when he goes. He's huge and it is a problem to be a big boy and large boys are treated as bullies whenever a skirmish comes up with a smaller boy.
My husband (Sept b-day, who went to K late) worked before his mission, comes home, then worked to earn moeny for college, finally started school when he was almost 22, so he didn't graduate and start earning money until he was 29.

Anyway, everyone worries about sending their kids to school. Everyone worries that their kids will be out of place. Too tall. Too short. Too this or too that. We can't all have babies in February, though. So, I would go with the deadline set by the school. You learn to go with it. It bothered me all those years that my daughter would be the oldest. Now that she's in school and she's happy, I'm ok with it.

What you would really prefer is that he be the average age. But you can't choose that. You can only choose youngest or oldest. Neither is ideal. So just go with the one based on the deadline.
There are tons of articles online about red-shirting your kindergartener. Most of it says that there seems to be little advantage. People do it for boys more than for girls, because of size. But also boys tend to learn differently than girls. And girls learning styles are usually more suited to the classroom. An extra year helps a little, but you don't eliminate learning styles. If your child is a kinetic learner (learn by doing), visual, auditory, or whatever, they are always going to prefer certain ways of learning.

3/08/2005 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

A friend of mine's oldest is born in November. In Maryland, where he was going to school, the cutoff date was December, so he started Kindergarten before he actually turned 5. He had an okay year, but his mom realized part-way through that he did better in situations where he was the older kid rather than one of the younger ones. When they moved to Utah, he repeated Kindergarten and has been well-adjusted in school ever since (he's now in 5th grade). I think it's all about knowing your child. If you feel that he does better in situations where he's interacting with younger kids rather than older ones -- ie, being a leader rather than a follower -- then you might want to hold him back. It's not so much about the academics -- jks pointed out that no matter how old they are they are going to learn how they are going to learn -- it's more about surviving socially.

I'm not sure about the whole 18 years old before they graduate, though. Russell was 18 before he graduated (December birthday) and managed to get a whole year of college in before going on his mission at 19 1/2. Granted he's 36 and still isn't really "earning money" (not that I mind :)

3/08/2005 05:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WAIT UNTIL HE'S SIX!! Sports are not a big deal for either my husband or me, so we did not consider them in our decision. Here’s what I based my decision on:

1 - I taught 5th and 6th grades for 8 years. While all children have their own strengths and weaknesses, I did notice that none of the youngest kids were leaders. They were all followers. If their circle of friends were good kids, this was no problem. But if they were in a rough crowd, they did not stand up for what they knew was right - they just followed along.

2 - I have 2 August birthday nephews. They were the last of their friends to go on missions and it was a VERY hard year for both of them. They were directionless and they felt very friendless by the time they went on their missions. They did take some college classes, but since they didn’t know what they wanted to be, some of their credits really won’t amount to much. Also, when the older one got back, most of his friends were married. He had missed their weddings and felt a little left out of their lives. The younger of the 2 struggled so much that year between high school and his mission that he almost didn’t go on a mission.

3 - I talked to dozens of parents who had gone through this decision. None of the parents who waited the extra year regretted the decision, while about half of the parents who started their child early did regret it. This probably affected our decision making process the most.

4 - I am a Sept. birthday and was the youngest. While I did think it was cool to be young (I started college when I was 17 and got a lot of notice for being so young), it was hard to be the last one able to get a driver’s license and to date. I was not able to go to my “Sophomore Slide” dance when I was a sophomore because I wasn’t 16 yet. Also, the girls that I went to school with were not the same group of girls that were in my mutual class.

My last bit of advice is to not wait until the last minute to decide. If you decide ahead of time, you are mentally prepared for that extra year, and your child is prepared, too. When people ask him if he likes Kindergarten, he can more easily respond that he doesn’t go until next year, etc.

Good luck!

3/09/2005 02:01:00 AM  
Anonymous fluffy said...

Nice blog! I face this issue as well, since my (currently 3 year old) daughter was born at the end of August. I plan to hold her back a year, because of my own experiences.

I did not have a late birthday, but a few weeks into my own kindergarten experience, my parents and teachers made the decision to skip me out of kindergarten and put me straight into first grade. In elementary school, this was no problem - fortunately, the "older" kids took me under their wing, and I continued to do well academically and socially.

High school, on the other hand, was extremely difficult for me. I did not have the same emotional maturity as the other kids in my grade level. I was not old enough to do the things my peers were doing - date, drive, etc. The kids in my Sunday School and YM classes were not in my grade level, so I was a bit of an outcast with my church friends as well. I graduated early and went off to college at barely 17 - a disastrous experience that I was not prepared for in any way, shape, or form.

I realize that some kids are exceptionally mature, but I would say if there is any doubt, hold him back.

I really believe that an extra year would have helped me immensely.

3/09/2005 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

What great comments!!! I knew there would be helpful people out there......

3/09/2005 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Kitti said...

My daughter is an August birthday. I put her in preschool at age four (well, actually age three d/t child care needs) and this has really helped to inform my decision. Based on performance in class I can tell she is ready for the learning activities and social interaction of kindergarten. Just and idea (and it gives you a break too, while they're in preschool.)

3/09/2005 01:29:00 PM  
Blogger Kitti said...

Oh -I also meant to say: I just found this blog today and I love it! Great job at keeping it real.

3/09/2005 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

My kids with their October birthdays seem to have primary classes with kids in the grade older....they are usually fewer birthdays in the the Sept-Dec range, than the Jan-August range, so going the earlier year statistically should mean that the kids are with more kids in their grade.
And if your child is the oldest, that means that they move up first. They are the first to go to young womens and have to wait months and months before their friends show up. And they are the first to go on their mission, etc.
Being first or being last, it is all pretty hard.
No one should have to be the first or last to hit puberty. You just can't predict.
I think my kids height makes them so different already, that its tough that their birthdays make this difference more pronouced. But at least I didn't really have a choice in the matter. So I don't have to "blame" myself for the problems my kids have because of it. The fact is that the kids were born when they were born. And do you know what? There are a bunch of other kids born then too!!!
Remember that if your kid is the "youngest" there are a bunch of other youngest kids in there too. They aren't a whole year younger than the entire class.
I was never a leader. I had a February birthday and was smack in the middle. I don't think that being 6 months older or younger would have made me a leader.
I didn't have a peer pressure problem either. And I don't think being 6 months older or 6 months young would have made that much of a difference.
Plenty of 16 year olds don't drive, because of the prohibitive cost of insurance.
Finally, Melissa's example of the November birthday kid, had him repeating Kindergarten in a new state where the cut-off was Sept 1. So his birthday fell within the deadline. And he did fine. He might also have been fine going to first grade where the cuttoff was December and he was within that deadline too.
My problem with red-shirting Kindergarten is that if all the August birthday's wait a year, then it makes all the July birthdays be the youngest. So then all the July birthdays start holding their kids back and then so do the June birthdays--and more and more August birthdays are held back because if they send them on time, they go to school with kids who aren't just 11 months older, they are 13 or more months older too. And on and on. The cutoff has to be somewhere.

3/09/2005 03:05:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

The real issue here, I think, is we must stop having sex in late November/December. Children should no longer be born in August or September.

3/09/2005 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men....

3/09/2005 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

Awesome blog.

I'm a late June birthday, and I started school just after my fifth birthday. My parents must be in the half that anonymous refers to as not having any regrets in starting me right away.

I was the youngest of my friends, but definitely a leader. And I didn't have any problem waiting to go on a mission. (As far as missing friends' weddings, I think this will be less of a problem, as people--even Mormons!--are getting married later. Twenty years from now this will be even less of a concern, I'd imagine.)

Re: sports and coordination. If my parents had waited for me to get coordinated or better at sports, I'd still be waiting to go to school. Yeah, I had some angst, but I'm none the worse for wear.

I agree, then, with those who have suggested that you wait and see. Unless you find compelling developmental reasons to keep him home another year, go ahead and sign him up.

3/09/2005 06:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

JKS, I liked your last entry, haha! If only timing was really in one's control.

I am a July baby, started school a few months after turning 5, did great. I have a sister who is a NOvember baby and we lived in California where the cutoff was December. She started school at 4 and while she did fine school-wise, I think my mom always regretted sending her so young. Perhaps being the youngest of everyone in her class influenced her to be a bit rebellious to "fit in." Who knows, maybe she would have rebelled regardless.

My daughter was born in October 2004 and I hadn't even thought about this issue until reading this - I DO have a few years of course. I suspect we will wait to start her in school until she is 5, even though that means she'll be older. I don't think there's much to lose by having your child home an extra year if their birthday falls at an awkward time.

3/09/2005 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

I guess I'm just resentful and bitter because summer birthdays have a choice. LOL. Fall birthdays don't. (Assuming you have the Aug 30 deadline which is the most common).
I did not have a choice about sending my children to school to be the youngest. They have to be the oldest.
Ultimately, once it actually happens and I realize that's the way it has to be, I have managed to be content and live with the fallout....and cross my fingers that the kids will be nice to my giant children and that my daughter won't really get her period and need a bra in 4th grade and that my son's 6th grade teacher won't be scared of him because he's 6'4 and 200lbs, and when my kids come home from school I always make them do extra homework/learning activities so that they actually get used to using their brains since they don't need to at school. My son shouldn't have to wait until age 7 to read, if he's capable of learning right now.

3/09/2005 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Well, JKS, being bitter and angry about summer babies having a choice is one thing, but sometimes I wish the choice WAS taken away from me. That way, I can blame the school system for forcing my son to be the youngest/oldest. "Sorry, son, I had no choice, blame the school district we lived in when you were five."

Of course, I have to accept that there's always a choice - homeschooling, changing schools, etc. - but I'd love to be able to blame something on somebody else and not take responsibility as a parent for screwing up my kid. I know my kids are going to have issues anyway (they all do, hopefully I won't screw them up TOO badly), and can't I blame just ONE on something I can't control?

I know, the answer's "No", but still...a girl can dream.

3/09/2005 08:22:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

That's why I recommend going with the actual deadline, unless there is a very definite specific concern at the time or a definite feeling that waiting would be better.
There is no way you can know if the decision is right for Kindergarten, AND for 6th grade, AND for 11th grade or age 19. How can you see the future and know?
Ultimately, you can pick the one that feels right, and pray about it. I've prayed about many things having to do with my children's schooling. And I've gotten answers and I haven't regretted any decision made so far.
While this may seem like the biggest decision of your child's life, it isn't. There are plenty of other ones that seem a little more passive, but will impact your child just as much. Where you live, what street, what school, what ward, will completely influence who your child associates with. Before you buy a house, you can't really go around meeting and interviewing all the children to see if they'd make good playmates. You can't really screen the teachers and students at the potential school. Yet buying that house is completely your choice and will give your child the limited # of kids that he will have to choose his friends, his girlfriend, etc. Everything hinges on it.
Just as everything hinges on what month you let yourself get pregnant and which sperm hooked up with which egg.
And everything hinges on breastfeeding, or how much TV they watch or how much you read to them in the womb......

I really have to try hard to let go and trust the Lord a little more. I can't eliminate all the potential problems in life for my children....although I certainly try my hardest.
Good luck. And don't worry too much about it. Maybe you'll suddenly move to a new state where the deadline is December 31st or July 1.

3/09/2005 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Fly Girl K said...

My oldest 2 have summer birthdays, but they also were reading when they were three, so there was no question whether to start them in kindergarten. When they get that old, they're soooo ready to get going and I wasn't about to pay for another year of preschool. We live in New York, where the cutoff date is December 1st, so when my due date on #3 was December 2nd, I panicked. I was so glad I had him a week early, so at least it would be my choice whether to start him at 4 1/2. Size is an issue, though. It's the main reason I wouldn't have considered having my oldest skip a grade. My birthday is in August and so is my brother's, and we both did fine (sports and all).

One other thing, and I'll shut up. When my son started kindergarten and came home talking about kids in his class turning six in September and October, my first reaction (not very kind, I know) was to assume that the child wasn't very bright. It's mean to say, but others might see it that way too.

3/10/2005 08:34:00 PM  

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