There have been a couple of articles lately that strike fear in the hearts of mothers of fall and winter babies everywhere.
First there was a widely-reported on study that the youngest kids in class are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, a startling 60 percent more likely in fact.
In response to the study, both the Globe and Mail and the New York Times ran articles about the wisdom of holding younger kids back a year so that instead of being the youngest in the class they are the oldest.
My daughter is a Christmas baby. She is not only the youngest in the family, last year she was the youngest student in the entire school.
The age cut-off for school is January 1st. If she had been born a week later she would be entering JK this year instead of SK. I knew that this was going to happen, and let me tell you I tried to hold her in so she could be on the other line of the birth year but she had other ideas.
In the States, the process of holding your kid back is called red shirting and it seems to be becoming more popular. The desire to hold kids back does smack of elitism and the quest for the perfect child. Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in Outliers that older kids achieve more success on the hockey rink, and the thought is that the older kids do better in the classroom as well.
If my daughter had been born in the States she would have been entering JK because the cut-off south of the border is generally around the beginning of school year. Our board does not allow parents to hold kids back under any circumstances, as the Globe article mentions if you want to hold a kid back you have to opt for private school.
I’m not sure what I would have done with my daughter if I had been given a choice. I would have liked it if she wasn’t the youngest person in both major spheres of her life and I do see some developmental differences between her and the other kids. But she also has some great advantages; there are few kids who can handle a light sabre as well as her, or identify the letters of the alphabet and she definitely has an advanced potty mouth. Those are gifts of being the youngest of two brothers.
Another lesson that she is going to learn is that there are some things you can’t change and your birthday is one of them.
What do you think? Would you hold your child back? Do you wish you were held back (or pushed forward)?