I have an August birthday boy. Not only is he an
August boy, but he was an eight-week-early-preemie boy.
Now that he's 4, it's time to start thinking about
kindergarten next fall. That is, should we send him or "redshirt"
him and keep him in preschool another year? We recently moved from
Chicago, where redshirting is not permitted, to the suburbs, where
Here in the 'burbs, holding back a summer baby (especially
if that summer baby is a boy) seems to be the thing to do. The
reasoning is he'll have an advantage over his classmates by being
the oldest in class. Bigger, smarter, better at sports. It's so
common that during casual conversation with a neighbor, I mentioned
Charlie's birthday and there was a gasp followed by a horrified,
"You aren't going to let him be the youngest, are you?!"
If we make the decision to retain him, I want
to be sure it's the right decision for our son. Not because it's
There are strong opinions on both sides of the fence,
along with many theories regarding the pros and cons of retention.
But there is no definitive proof detailing which is the best route
to take for summer babies.
My son's education is too important to simply make an
educated guess and hope for the best. I want to know we are making
the best choice for him. So what's a mom to do?
I think that my guy is spectacular. Smart, funny and ready
to conquer the world, and if he wasn't straddling the cutoff line
between when he was born (Aug. 4) and when he was due (Sept. 27), I
wouldn't be writing this right now.
I have no illusions that he is going to be a prime
candidate for the MLB, NFL or NBA; he doesn't come from an athletic
family. And while it would be awesome if he was a mathlete, we
don't expect that either. We shouldn't be stressing about him
Yet it's a delicate balancing act: send him before he's
ready and ultimately, he fails. Additionally, if we keep him in
preschool an extra year, he could arrive at elementary school
bored, disruptive and hating school.
My advice to future parents: have your babies in the late
fall or winter. Parenting is stressful enough. Kindergarten
enrollment shouldn't be.
Sandee Harned is a mom of two, Charlie and Tilly. She also writes the blog Motherhood is Beautiful...and Other Lies.
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