Having been a third grade public school teacher for many years, I have had the opportunity to see many kids come and go under my guidance. While each child is different in his/her own unique way, one troubling trend I recognized early on was that an alarming percentage of the boys considered “behavior problems” had one thing in common: their age.
Every time I had a student who was considered a behavior problem in the previous grade, the first thing I would do is check his birth date. Now, I didn’t do any sort of in-depth research or record keeping, but I would estimate that about 90% of those boys who had already earned a reputation for poor behavior in years past were among the youngest in their grade level. Typically these boys had summer birthdays (June, July, August) and some even had birthdays that went into September and October.
I’m a firm believer that maturity is one of the biggest factors in determining a student’s early-academic success, especially with boys (girls tend to mature more quickly). As parents, we are oftentimes pressured to put our kids in school once they reach the proper age window. For a kid with a January birthday this is not likely to be a big deal, but when younger boys are slipped in at the low end of the cutoff line, the potential for problems increases.
If you have a Summer-birthday preschooler, I encourage you to consider these three reasons why holding your son back one more year can be very beneficial:
1. Your son will do better behaviorally. At this age, simply being older than many of the other kids will give your son an advantage in maturity. Impulse control is a huge factor here. I found that the boys who get in the most trouble in school were the ones that continually acted like the kids in the previous grade. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense — these boys are acting like second graders because they are the same age as second graders. Students with a second grade maturity will act like second graders. If your son’s maturity does not meet the maturity expectations of his grade level, behavior problems will inevitably arise. An extra year will definitely help take off the edge.
2. Your son will do better academically. Even the smartest kids can benefit from waiting a year for Kindergarten. Since behavior is such a big factor in school success, a bright young boy can stunt his academic growth by becoming a behavior problem for the teacher. The more a teacher is required to manage misbehavior, the less learning is going on. The maturity that comes with age is very helpful in teaching your son how to manage his behavior so that he can focus on academics.
3. Your son won’t be as negatively affected by size. Your son’s height is not a huge factor in determining academic success in school, but size can be a factor in other areas later in life. For one thing, smaller kids tend to be picked-on more on the playground. I was always the tallest in my grade and, though I was a mild-mannered and compliant kid, I never got picked on simply because I was bigger than everyone else. Size can also be a factor in extra-curricular areas like playing sports or dating.
Obviously this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. You’ll have to look at your son and decide what’s best for him when the time comes. Hopefully these points are valuable in helping you make your decision.