Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Red-shirting kindergarteners?

So, this article, appeared earlier this week:

It's really got me thinking more about this whole parenting thing in general, and my own child in particular. Frank's birthday is September 20th. The cutoff date in our district is October 1st. Most people in this position, especially with a boy, would "hold back" their child until the September he turns six. We plan on sending him when he turns five, next year. The amount of crap we are getting for this decision is incredible. Everyone from my mother ("This is one of the worst possible educational decisions you could make for him. He will struggle for his entire educational career.") to coworkers ("I held back my son. It was the right decision. I'd do it again.") has an opinion on my son's education, or rather, when that education will officially start.

You're really damned if you do, and damned if you don't when it comes to parenting, I've found. It starts before birth, even: What kind of birth are you planning? You do have a birth plan, right? And, then, the birth itself: Really, you had a c-section? There are entirely too many c-sections in this country. They're not neccessary. Our ancestors gave birth in between working crops and humanity has turned out just fine. Then: What do you mean you're not breastfeeding??? Breast is best! It'll keep your kid from having ear infections! And so on.

I was prepared for a lot of things when I decided I wanted children. I was prepared to lose a lot of sleep, for starters, although, as an insomniac, I haven't noticed much difference from before baby to after. I was prepared to constantly worry about the child. I even knew there'd be a constant roller coaster of emotions that went with motherhood. (When you work in a field that is dominated by women, you learn stuff just by listening at the lunch table.)

I never thought I'd feel like I have to explain every decision I make for my child to people in my life who are not my child's other parent. No, I should not feel like I have to explain things to others, but in real life, I am incredibly nonconfrontational, and telling people to butt out is still a skill I have not yet developed fully.

As for the future kindergartener? Well, my husband and I have taken into account everything about him, his personality, his skills, and his physical development. The only thing that concerns me is the kids who will be a year or sometimes more older than he will be. My concern is that his behavior, which should be age-appropriate for chronological age five years zero months will look not as good compared to age appropriate behavior displayed by kids who are chronological age six years and zero months.


Alice said...

I hear you on this entry -- it starts BEFORE a woman is even pregnant. "So...are you thinking about having kids?" "Are you trying yet?", "You don't want to wait too long, you know." "You should read this book on fertility" From family, friends -- I even had to stop going to a nail salon, they were asking so many personal questions!

Her Artichoke Heart said...

As a September baby myself, I officially approve of your decision to send him to kindergarten at age 4 years 11 months. That's when I started, and I like to think I turned out fine. ;) I would've been so bored otherwise! and you don't want him to be bored. As I'm sure you've witnessed, kids who are advanced and bored can have just as many behavior problems as kids who are behind and struggling. In NYC, and in Stamford (where I was in school until nearly the end of 4th grade), you don't have to be 5 until Dec. 31st -- much more reasonable, IMHO. The whole red-shirting thing is getting ridiculous. If everyone keeps doing it and taking it to the extreme, eventually we'll have a bunch of 8-year-old kindergardenders!

Karin said...

That's the thing I was wondering! If parents are keeping their kids from entering kindergarten until they are six, and it's been the trend for many years now, what's to stop one set of parents from thinking, "Hey, I can give my kid even more of an advantage and hold them until they're seven."

And, yes, I would much rather he work harder and get Bs and Cs than coast through with straight As. Or even coast through with Bs and Cs.