Monday, July 13, 2015

The Gift Of A Year

Summer birthdays create a sticky situation (for some) in regards to school.

The cut off date for many states to start school is September 1st. A student needs to be 5 on or before September 1st to enter Kindergarten. Children whose birthdays fall between the months of June and August are typically the youngest in the class/grade. As a mother of two August birthdays I had to stop and ask myself, "Will my girls be more successful as one of the youngest or one of the oldest?"

As a former educator I made the decision to most likely start them in Kinder at the age of 6 because when our school year starts is typically 1-2 weeks after their birthdays.  It was that simple...until we approached that pivotal year.

As each daughter grew we (of course) encountered more and more friends whose birthdays fell throughout the school year. As I compared them with their peers they were stronger, average, and weaker in certain areas. They were typical children. There was no alarm going off saying "HOLD HER BACK."

When the time came to make the decision for E1 we decided to hold her - give her the gift of a year. We also decided E2, 3 years younger, would be held back too. What is good for the goose, is good for the gander and quite frankly, I was not ' going through this' again.

Somehow this decision affected my friends' thoughts on my parenting and my children. All of a sudden I was being lectured on how she would be bored, she is too mature, she is too tall. Or the flip side of how will she achieve age appropriate expectations if she is with younger kids, won't she regress, won't this keep her immature?

Friends also expressed how summer birthday kids were screwing over spring birthday kids because now they are the youngest. Um, didn't you just fucking tell me how being the youngest isn't so bad and they will rise to the occasion and prove themselves?

This decision opened the doors for everyone's opinion. And I mean everyone's. What has been most interesting to me is the overwhelming dissension for E1 and the overwhelming agreement for E2.  Somehow being an early reader means you should not be held back. That is the DUMBEST thing I have ever heard. There is so much more to consider when a parent makes the decision. And being in speech or OT doesn't automatically mean you hold back. That too, is the DUMBEST thing I have ever heard.

Parents that decide to hold back do so because they see their child for exactly who they are. They know if their child is ready to start school. They consider their child's tantrums, sensitivity, academics, maturity, impulse control, imagination, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and the child's over all personality before making this decision. Parents agonize over this. This decision is not made lightly.

The thing that frustrates all summer birthday parents is people's inability to be supportive. I did not lecture my friends that did not hold their child back - it is not my decision to make. I have my opinion, but I kept it to myself because I am not that child's parent or teacher.  I am not sure why people feel they can give an opinion when you do hold back, but the parents that do not hold their child are applauded for doing what is right. Why is that?  Why is it any of our business? Who decided what is right and what is wrong for another child?

Other people's opinions did not change mine. They never have.

If your child is doing well in school then don't worry about my daughter's birthday and how it will change your child's education because it won't.

If your child is not doing well in school, look at your own child and not mine. Her August birthday (and being a few months older) did not make learning to read or learning mathematics more difficult for your child.

What prompted this entry? School starts in about 6 weeks.

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