When I first found out I was pregnant and due in September of 2007, I really never considered the implications that giving birth to a child with a late summer birthday would have other than how miserable I thought I’d be at 900 pounds and pregnant during Los Angeles heat waves. As a September baby myself, I pretty much just patted myself on the back for birthing another Virgo and for getting myself (and my unborn child) into the city’s most acclaimed mommy and me class for “September babies” at 10 weeks pregnant. That’s all I really needed to think about…. Making sure he was in a class (at 3 months old) with other babies (infants, really) who had no more than a 30 day difference age wise than him. Why should my baby already be behind? I’ll give him every advantage in the world… always…
But let me tell you, as a new (but lifelong neurotic) mom, when my son wasn’t rolling over like every other baby, or spitting up more, or not crawling…etc, etc… I wondered and often blamed his September 20th birthday for the baby with the September 6th birthday. Was the 14 day difference giving that little girl a leg up on my boy? I thought so. After all, I downed folic acid like it was air and flocked to the number one pre-natal yoga guru as if she were god incarnated. I did EVERYTHING right and didn’t even look at deli meats or sushi. How could he already be behind? My son is brilliant and developmentally on track isn’t he?!?… Oh, those 14 days. They felt like everything….
Eventually things seemed to even out. He walked, talked, and even learned to pee standing up. Those days and weeks that separated my son from the kids that crawled sooner and I assumed were way head of my son developmentally, eventually meant nothing. But 4 years later… I’m back to that place… and now, it’s worse than worrying about the fact that he drools more or hasn’t given up a bottle.
Now it’s about Kindergarten enrollment… AKA: The rest of his life.
Or at least that’s how it feels.
Here’s the sitch:
Jonah turns 5 in September. He has been in (private) preschool for 2 years. The cutoff for Kindergarten in the state of CA is Nov. 1st. So technically, J can go to kindergarten. However, no one, including his teachers are certain he’s ready. Academically, yes. Emotionally, no. SO thankfully, many schools in Los Angeles have what’s called a Transitional Kindergarten program…. designed for late summer/ fall born children like little J. Great. The Problem? Thanks to budget cuts, TK might get slashed therefore giving us two options: Send him to kindergarten (like I did when I was 5 years old) OR keep him in preschool one more year (which is really not an option because of financials). So basically, this means, if TK gets slashed, OR if they enroll children starting with December birthdays and work there way back, he won’t get it. What does this all mean? I need to wrap my head around the idea of kindergarten at the age of 5… which has become this ooogy boogy, horrific notion amongst parents these days.
Last night, 60 Minutes ran a great segment about this “Redshirting” phenomenon- or holding children back from kindergarten. According to the piece, redshirting has tripled since the 1970’s. Now nearly a quarter of all kindergarten classrooms are populated by 6 year olds. Boys are twice as likely to be held bas as girls, and twice more than minorities and of course rich more than poor.
Parents like me are getting scared into thinking that our children aren’t not only ready for the curriculum which is now harder and different in Kindergarten as it was when we were children, but that if we allowed our children to be the youngest child, they wouldn’t be the leaders…. Socially, they’d be out of place…. weaker… less likely to succeed.
Is it really that serious though? As Morely Safer says in a follow up piece, he doesn’t think it makes a bit of difference. (I suppose I would be curious to know how old President Obama was when he started kindergarten…. and also Justin Bieber. Both seem to be doing okay).
In case, you missed it, here’s the piece from 60 minutes below. So tell me: What do you think I should do? Kindergarten or bust? TK first, kindergarten second option? Beg, borrow, steal to keep him in preschool one more year? Share your thoughts and experiences here!