Summer Babies and Starting School

I have three kids that were born in the month of July. THREE. While we know how that happens, I can assure you that it was not planned that way. While it makes for a busy and fun month mid-summer, it also means we have to make the decision THREE times on whether or not to start kindergarten at 5 years old or 6 years old. You should know that having to make that decision once is hard enough, but making it THREE times? All I can say is thank goodness that our fourth (and final) baby is set to come this September and not July or August.

What some people don’t understand about those summer birthdays and making the decision to redshirt or not is that you actually have to have an idea of when you plan to send your kid earlier than you’d think. I remember the first time our director at the daycare our kids go to asked us if we were planning to send Charlie (our oldest) to kindergarten when he was five or wait until right after he turned six. He was barely four years old at that time. We weren’t quite sure how to answer the question at that point because it seemed like the prospect of going to kindergarten was so far away.

Then the process started of getting feedback from teachers and grandparents and anyone willing to give input. But deep down, I think we just knew as parents what we were going to do and all that input just served as an affirmation. He wasn’t going to be ready. While academically, he likely would have been fine, we were more interested in his readiness from a social and maturity level. So at the ripe old age of almost four, we were semi-confident that it would be best for him to wait a year and start kindergarten a few weeks after he turned six versus five. And now that time is almost upon us (just about two months now until kindergarten starts!) and we are very happy with our decision. He is, too!

And then you have our daughter. Who is completely different from her older brother, in so many ways. She’s a social butterfly and doesn’t see anyone as a stranger and will happily strike up a conversation (which is good and bad). Being a girl and a second child, most days I honestly forget that she is a whole 23 months younger than her older brother. However, when the same question from the daycare director happened (earlier this time) about whether it was time for her to go up to Pre-K or stay in preschool another year, we found completely different answers and opinions about her from the same group of people that we had asked about her brother a few years ago. As parents, we also had completely different feelings about her going as well. We felt like she would be ready. It was reassuring to hear that others, including her preschool teachers, agreed and encouraged us that she was ready to take on the challenges that Pre-K brought.

So while they are almost two years apart in age, she and her older brother will be just one grade apart. Our final two kiddos are boys (one born July 19 and the other has a due date of September 12), so depending on number four’s ultimate arrival date, we will hopefully only have to make this tough decision one more time. Just like the others, his personality and maturity will come into play when we make this decision for him.

This is a HARD decision to make for any parent and sometimes it feels like the date of what’s acceptable to hold someone back keeps extending into earlier months, not just summer. Which is FINE! I’m encouraging you to not judge; it might seem easy to judge this decision that parents have to make and frame it up to think that they are holding them back for sports or so they can be the tallest, etc., but this is a hard decision that likely the parent put a great deal of thought and diligence into. Every child and situation is different and so many factors should be considered.

Have you ever thought of your parents having to make that decision? I know things were different 20-30 years ago, but my husband has an April birthday and and I have a late August birthday…the kicker is…we are in the same grade but are almost a full year and a half apart age-wise. He’s much older for our grade, and I’m as close as you can be to the youngest you can be before the cut off (my birthday is August 28). And spoiler alert – we both turned out just fine. And as every parent has to do, our parents made the best decision they could for us at that time. His parents held him back because he was quiet, shy and rarely talked (trust me – NOT like that now!). He was very smart academically, but that social interaction is just as important.

As for me? When I asked my parents how they decided to me when my birthday is so close to the September 1 cut off, my mom just said that my preschool teacher told her “if this girl doesn’t go to kindergarten next year, she will be in jail at 15” and off I went to kindergarten at four years old and yes, off to college at just 17. They made the best decision they could make for us at that time.

And almost 30 years later, we are doing our best to make the best decision we can for each of our kids as it comes about. And guess what? While it can seem like this one decision is such a big one, we know that no matter what the results, it will be the right one for my (and your) summer baby.

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