LazyWeb thanks and yet another question

Despite not being officially on the road this week, I am road-busy. I have two or three irons in the fire. Add that to my normal workload and a quick trip at week’s end, and I’ve got a lot going on. I’m booking hotels and planning a working road trip to the South Carolina coast. More on that another time.

First off, a thank you to everyone who submitted recipe ideas and such. I’ve already put to use the thoughts of Poker Peaker and Astin. I also bought a book based on my buddy Marty’s recommendation. I think I’m going to go all Doc Chako this weekend and make some crepes.

Also, many thanks to the people who gave me some ideas on podcasts to add to my list. I’ve already gone through a few hours of content and am really enjoying myself.

Since everyone has been so nice, I thought I’d abuse the lazyweb and ask another question. I’m, of course, researching this in traditional ways, but since you all are a smart lot, I’d like to get as many opinions as possible.

My son will turn five years old in August. Any parent knows that an August birthday means we can start the kid in kindergarten this year or wait until he turns six. Based on the tests we’ve given him, he is apparently smart enough that he could start today (the only thing he’s not got down yet is tying his own shoes). Academically, I’m not all that worried. Size-wise, he is near the top of the percentiles for a kid who is 4.5 years old. That said, if we do start him this year, he will almost certainly be the youngest in his class and smaller than most of the six-year-old boys. I have a December birthday, so it never mattered much to me. My wife is an August baby, but we both believe size and age mean more to boys than girls, especially as it relates to confidence and athletics. We’re not a family that puts a lot of importance on sports success, but if the boy continues to trend toward athletics, we don’t want to screw him over early.

With that established, we’re leaning toward starting him in school this year, but we are not 100%.

Have you been in this situation? What did you do?

Thanks in advance, and I promise I’ll pay you back later this week. I’ve got a post in the works, the content of which is exceptionally simple, but also exceptionally useful.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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13 Responses

  1. Human Head says:

    Wait.

    And while you are waiting, I cannot recommend highly enough reading “Weapons of Mass Instruction, by John Taylor Gatto.

  2. Dr. Chako says:

    Call anytime.

    I’m seriously thinking about making the trip out there at the end of the month, so I may have to make them for you myself. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to increase the recipe, so I can only serve 5, or maybe 6 people. I’ve actually tried to increase it once – failed miserably.

    Our boys were born in August and October. If given a choice, I think waiting a year is a good thing. It’s what we are doing with our youngest.

    -DrC

  3. Astin says:

    Wait.

    Since it’s an August birthday, he’ll be six next year, which will put him as one of the older kids, but not necessarily the oldest. Being on the older end always makes you a bit cooler. Plus, it will keep in step for his entire academic career. No getting kept out of bars because he’s a year younger, no watching his friends get driver’s licenses when he can’t, and no waiting for hair to grow in places where there wasn’t hair before.

    If you want him in school, put him in a Montessori school for a year. It will give him a big head start when he joins the common-folk, because while they’ll be trying to colour in the lines, he’ll already have some basic reading, writing, and math skills under his belt.

  4. G-Rob says:

    Astin is correct.

    Read Gladwell’s “Outliers”.

  5. agsweep says:

    Drew has a September birthday and is very athletic. (Played high school hockey, baseball, tennis and ran cross country, currently plays hockey for UNLV on and off) He tested in for an early start but we decided against it. In addition to his natural athletic ability he was much more coordinated than the younger kids. That being said, the year wait before he started kindergarten was a very long year. He was bored and restless despite being in pre-school. Could have planned a little better for that.

  6. Sarah V says:

    Being the Mom of an August boy who is now in 1st grade I think that waiting is a good idea. It did Will a lot of good. As far as size goes he’s taller than most of the second graders at good ol’ Willard North, but I think that over all he’s much better off for starting that year later.

  7. Darla says:

    I’ve already given your wife my opinion, but knowing your kid and having to hold ours back due to an October b-day…If you hold him back he will bored out of his mind which will lead towards misbehavior. C was reading when she started kindergarten. There were kids in there that didn’t know their abc’s. It was very difficult for C and the teacher to keep her interested and challenged.

  8. Pam says:

    I have personal experience with the decision to put a child into school or not, both for myself and my September son.

    For myself, I was the youngest in the class and I can tell you that I wish my mother had waited a year. For me it was both an emotional maturity as well as an academic maturity that affected me. Emotionally, when I went to seventh grade, all the girls were into talking about boys, when all I wanted to do was be back on the playground playing jump rope (this is a very vivid memory for me). It affected the rest of my school life, since from that point forward you were with the same 150+ kids for the rest of your school years. I never did make any close friends in my class. Academically I did get mostly good grades. And I am not bragging here, but all of my siblings were in the gifted classes but I just barely didn’t make it. My grades in high school fluctuated, going from the worst test score to the next test having the best test score. College was actually fine for me, though, and my life has turned out great.

    My eldest son is 9 with a Sept 10th birthday. From the time he was born I worried about the school thing. My mother was a school teacher for almost 30 years, 15 years at 1st grade and then some years at 3rd and 5th grades. When it was really time to decide what to do, she and many other teachers I talked to said that for boys they would highly recommend that for late summer/fall birthdays to wait until they are 6 years old. They all told me that the boys would do fine through 2nd grade no matter what, but 3rd grade is where you end up seeing the difference. My son’s in 3rd grade now, one of the oldest in the class as well as in Gifted & Talented, and I can tell you they were absolutely correct. He is having to work harder this year than the previous years and the work they do is not easy. For the first time he came home with some Bs on his report card (and he could have had As if he had applied himself as he should).

    My son has one major personality trait to overcome – he wants to be mentally on the move and focusing can take a great effort when you are easily distracted. He has improved a great deal over the years (I was terrified he was ADHD when he was very young, he just couldn’t sit still!), but that is still his greatest challenge in the classroom. From some of the things you post, it sounds like your son may be the same way – always on the go, wanting to do something different every time you turn around. Lots of boys are that way, which is why you will hear some people say that the school systems aren’t really ideal for boys. But that is another factor in deciding whether to put them into school at an early age 5 or waiting until age 6.

    My son is average height, but he is not athletically inclined, so that never played a big part in my decision, although for others it may. My biggest thing was wanting to give him that extra year to get his focusing a bit more under control, and I can tell that my decision to wait paid off in that area.

    As someone else said, if you aren’t quite sure, you can always try a private kindergarten first, then if you think you want to wait to move him forward, you can put him into public kindergarten. This gives them a different set of children in a different setting for the second year of kindergarten and helps to not make it appear to him that he is repeating a grade.

    I wish you good luck in your decision. Ultimately it is your decision, as you know your son better than anyone.

    Pam

    (I rarely post comments to you, but I associate you with this quote from my son’s one book, so I am just too tempted I have add:
    “Blueberries yummy; blue crayons yucky!”)

  9. T says:

    The sooner the better. Kids are sponges. Get him in structured learning as quickly as possible. I was the youngest in my class. Didn’t care…except when it was time to start driving.

    …and get the boy some velcro shoes.

  10. Da Goddess says:

    Boys tend to be less able to deal (emotionally) with the pressures of school and new babies than girls. My daughter was four going on five when she started Kindergarten. My son was five going on six when he started. Both were academically at the same level, but the emotional difference was huge.

    You have a new baby on the way, which may or may not be something that weighs heavily upon Young Otis. All I can say is watch for regression and a whole host of “I don’t wanna be a big boy” nightmares that could possibly arise. Even if they don’t, he might not be ready to take on the big deal that Kindergarten is. Ask his preschool teachers what they think. Play it by ear. And if he doesn’t seem ready, don’t force it. Better to start later and have him really be ready than to get him in Kindergarten and need to have him repeat it.

  11. MGM says:

    I say wait. Boys tend to be less ready for things like Kindergarten at early ages than girls. But even if it weren’t a question of gender, I’d still say wait. He has a lot of years of school ahead of him. Why hurry it? Enjoy him and have a great time for one last year without this responsibility of school. Make some memories and focus on including him as much as possible with the introduction of his new sibling to the family rather than having him feel “pushed out of the nest” with this new big concept of Kindergarten while his new little sibling gets to occupy the nest at home that was once his. I also agree with Da Goddess about watching for some regression.

    But despite all the advice you’ve gotten, also remember that you know your child better than anyone else.

  12. Drizztdj says:

    Wyatt is an August kid and this year we made the decision to start him early based on how he responded to pre-school and size (he’s the tallest in his class despite being the youngest).

    I was orginally in favor of holding him back and testing scores were coming back with reasons to affirm my opinion at the beginning of the year. But in the recent parent-teacher conference his testing scores are above average and his love for going to school each day have changed dramatically.

    If he seems bored with pre-school, or treats it as too “childish”, I’d say sign him up for Kindergarten.

  13. Heather says:

    I don’t have a kid myself but you definitely should read outliers. Holding them back makes it much more likely to get into gifted programs, etc.

    Also Montessori school is incredibly awesome – I went through it and I still have memories (good) of it. Making pinhole cameras to see the solar eclips! writing a picture book about the planets! What a radiometer is (that black and white spinny thing). Highly recommend it.

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