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ds and dd may be in same class. Need advice! (long)

1068 Views 12 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  ameliabedelia
Many teachers I've talked to say typically the kids who have the most problems in their classes are the boys who have late birthdays or are younger than everyone else. I don't have any interest in debating that subject, it's just what I've been told. Anyway, my oldest ds has a late birthday and we will start him in school "late".

Fast forward to my second ds. His birthday is in May, which I've never considered a late birthday but was surprised to find I still got advice from people and teachers (lots of teachers in my family)to still start him later. My dh and I talked and said that we probably would start him later, then him and his brother would be 2 years apart which we liked. We were a little concerned if they were 1 school year apart, yet 2 age years apart, the younger might not do as well socially, academically, athletically etc and it's possible they would compete/ not be as good as friends etc. I realize this looks like we are over analyzing this situation, but I'm trying to generalize a number of conversations to you all to get to my real situation, which is:

We were all happy with our kid spacing, education decisions mentioned above and then SURPRISE, got pregnant with dd, making her 13 1/2 months younger than ds #2. Now, if we keep to the same thinking mentioned above, ds#2 and dd will be in the same class. Does anyone have any experience or advice about that situation (2 in same class) ? Initially my dh and me thought they would just be in the same class, no problem. However, several people have said this will not be good, yet can't give me a reason, not even a bad one. Recently, we've been talking about starting dd "late" since we've had so many bad reactions to the same class situation and also because we're selfish and want our kids with us for as long as possible
However, interested in any possible problems with a girl being oldest in her class.

Again, I want to stress that it is not my nature to overanalyze or micromanage my kids lives (I keep re-reading my post and thinking that's how I sound). I realize I can't determine the outcome of my childrens lives. I would just like to gather as much information about this unusual situation so I can make the best decision I can with any knowledge I can gather. Thanks for anyone who read this whole post. I appreciate any input!
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The first thing that came to my mind to wonder about was the temperaments of the two children. Are they intense and/or competetive, or easy going and flexible? It can be quite important to some children to be known and respected as "the big kid" who can teach the younger ones in the family. How would your ds feel about not having this? Sometimes middle children in particular can get touchy about never feeling like they are 'special' or singled out for good things. Would your son be likely to feel this? Also, are there two classrooms so they could each have their own experience if they do go into the same grade together? Many people also have twins or triplets and they often do not have many choices. Yours are very close in age! Just some random thoughts.....
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hmmm, this made me think of an acquaintance of mine--well, she's a little more than that, but not quite a confidante, if you know what I mean. Anyway, her ds#1 is repeating kindergarten this year, he turned 6 in August. Not because he did poorly, but he didn't do as well as she and dh would have hoped and they felt that most of the other parents are "doing it" and they feel that "...when in Rome..." Okay, whatever. Her ds#2 and my ds are the same age, June birthdays, four right now. So she's already decided that she'll have him repeat kinder too so that later the boys will just figure, "That's what our family did, repeated kinder 'cause Mom and Dad wanted us to." Okay, again, whatever. I don't see myself choosing that option, but I can kind of see her logic, and it probably won't be as traumatizing for ds#1 in the end that way. So, in that vein, I suppose you could consider it for dd to, if you wanted to go that route, and pose it along the lines of, "This is just what we've chosen to do in our family, wait until you're older to start school." In this way, you'd be able to avoid the whole same class thing.

As a school psychologist, I would agree that late Fall birthday kids, particularly boys, have more trouble. I think it's just that developmentally they're still all revved up [as a general rule, there is always an exception] and aren't quite ready to sit down and do seat work for multiple hours in a day (don't even get me started on what I think about that!). And to that end, I

have considered having ds wait until he's 6 to start school even though he'll be well into 5 when the school year begins next Fall. I can tell you that I can walk into a classroom on day 1 of the school year and choose every single child with a birthday between Sept. 1 and December 3 (our cut-off in this state) within 30 minutes. They just stand out. Of course, this doesn't mean they'll all fail miserably, but boy oh boy can you tell they're the youngins in the room.

As to the siblings in one classroom, most schools do try to separate siblings, and, if possible, cousins. Particularly twins. This is based on the belief that twins will often rely soley on one another to the exclusion of all others and thus won't learn the necessary social skills. I use to be more in favor of this before I had kids. Now I'm not so sure I'm against it. I think it depends on the children in question. While I do believe that it's a wonderful thing for siblings to take comfort in one another while in strange surroundings, I also think that maybe they don't need to be together all hours of every single day, and I would probably make some kind of effort to separate my kids during the school day (in the classroom, not at recess, lunch or other activities), partially because, as much as I love dh, I don't think it's healthy for us to be together 24/7/365. I think we would not then allow ourselves to adequately develop/maintain healthy relationships with others, which is something we all need to do as adults, right? (I guess that could be debatable) So, I would agree that maybe it's not great to have the sibs in the same class, but I don't necessarily think the same grade is so awful.

I hope there is a smidgen of help in that long old essay. Good luck with your decision making!

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Here's my 2cents (and keep in mind that I have no school age kids yet so take it with a grain of salt). Your ds1 has an October birthday and that IS quite a late b-day (assuming your school district cutoff is somewhere between late Oct and Dec like most). Like you, I'd probably want to hold off on starting school with him. He is so close to the cutoff that I think that can be explained to him later on, even if you don't do that with the other kids. Ds2 has a May b-day, and that's not quite so "late." I'd take a "wait-and-see" approach with him. As he gets closer to school age, maybe put him in a preschool for half days a couple of days a week and see how he does, socially and otherwise. If he seems to be coping, then go ahead and start him on schedule. If not, hold him back. Same thing goes with your dd. I don't think it's essential that you do the same thing with each kid, you have to take their differences into account.
Silly, personal story here, but I thought I would share. I was an August 2 birthday. My preschool teachers recommended that I not start kindergarten at age 5 because I was shy. It had nothing to do with not being academically ready -- I was. Anyway, you wouldn't think that an August birthday would be unusual when the cutoff is late September, but I was always the oldest in my class. I liked it in the younger grades, but as I got to junior high and high school kids in the older class would realize that I was older than some of the kids in their class, and it was always assumed that I was held back. Talk about killing a kids ego. I wasn't held back and was a good student, but try explaining that to teenagers. I was miserable in junior high and had very low self esteem because of this. I can't imaging what the age spread would be with a May birthday being held back with a December cutoff.

I know that it is entirely personal, but I thought I would share since I was there.

In our town the cutoff is September 15th. May birthdays, boys or girls are RARELY held back unless there are major circumstances. My ds is flourishing and is one of the youngest three in his class. Two of the kids have July birthdays and I'm not sure if they turned five or six in July. One of the things that I think you should really consider is the individual program. How large are the classes, is there always an aid in the room or is the teacher alone, how structured is the day.

What I wouldn't consider is the competition issue. If you put the first two in back to back grades there may be competition. But there will also be competition if the last two are in the same grade. Competition is tough to avoid and imho shouldn't be a reason to hold a child back who is clearly ready to start school. If they aren't ready, that is another story and should be dealt with on an individual basis.

I am a firm believer that you should do what each individual child needs when it comes to when to start school without worrying about the other children. But that's just me. Good luck, and I hope that everything works out for you.
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Firstly, I just have to say how shocked I am at how late the cutoff is where so many of you live! Ours is August 31st - so every child is 5 when kindergarten starts. With later cutoffs, some kids would go at age 4! That seems so odd to me.

A woman who taught preschool for 20 years told me she felt very strongly that it should be pulled back to June 1st. Those summer birthday kids do have a harder time - not necessarily academically but in maturity issues like frustration tolerance.

Both my sister and I (four years apart) are summer birthdays and went on time so were young in our class. Didn't seem to be a problem for either of us - other than being teased that they would get their drivers licenses before me. I told them when they were 40, I'd be 39 so there you go!
Our brother (four years younger than my sister) is a fall birthday so was oldest in his class. I think for boys it is even more important to take birthday into account.

I would send them according to an earlier cutoff date - sometime in summer. So your October 2000 son would be old in his class, May daughter would be a little on the young end but not really since most would be following the later cutoff. I forget the month of your middle son... But you say they are 13 1/2 months apart - that is more than a year so send them so they will not be in the same grade. I agree with the poster who said that having the boys one year apart would be less trouble than having the girl and younger boy in the same grade.

I do not think you are thinking too much about it - you want to set them up to be successful! Nothing wrong with that. You want to avoid avoidable problems - again, sounds smart to me.

Having your son being considered "old" in his class seems like it would be less trouble than having him go on time (according to your state) and not have a positive experience. There surely must be others in your situation - all those poor summer and fall kids (boys especially) who start at four or barely five have a disadvantage.

Just my two cents. Good luck deciding - it is always hard.
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OK, just went back and saw the birthdates (and that I messed up on who was which ages....) and did a little chart on scratch paper!
If it was me, I would send Brennan fall of '06, Gavin fall of '07, and Cassidy fall of '08.
So Gavin and Cassidy would be approximately 3 months into being 5 years old when they start kindergarten. Brennan would be 11 months into being 5 years old. But that is ok! Someone has to be the oldest in the class and someone the youngest. I understand doing what you think is best for each individual child but I also understand trying to factor in how it all works together.
P.S. Love your kids' names!
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Really, Liamnemma? I had no idea that schools try to separate cousins. Do you know anything else about that?

I was the youngest kid in my class from kindergarten all the way through graduate school. It caused social problems, but at least I wasn't bored all the time.
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In response to your question about girls being the oldest in the class... I have been told that this usually is not a good thing. Mainly, because of puberty issues when they are older.

I agree w/ the 'wait and see' approach for each individual child... but if I was trying to decide now I would go ahead w/ what one of the previous posters had said and start them each a year apart.

On this topic - Does anyone have the current list of age/date cut-offs for each state? I've been thinking about this w/ regards to my ds who was born Dec. 2nd, 2000. I've only been able to find lists from a few years back. I would like a list of all states since I have no idea what state we will be living in when it's time for him to go to K.
Sorry Juliacat, haven't been here for a few days...just saw your post. This--the separating cousins--may occur just in my schools in my district. It happens largely because if cousins are attending the same school (again, in the district I work in anyway), they likely live in the same home, and thus, may have more of a sibling relationship than a cousin relationship...but just to take that a step further in my own life, I really wouldn't want my kids to be in classrooms with their cousins because for the most part, I don't want my SIL's hearing anything about my kids (they tend to take little bits of info about ds and run amok with it) that wasn't screened by me first. They've just been too mean to ds already for me to be comfortable with allowing them anymore access to him.

And Sarahmae, the California cut off is Dec. 3rd.
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I'm so grateful for all of your replies! What great advice and perspectives! My husband and I just read all your posts and had a great discussion about all your suggestions. No decision of course, we will definitely wait and see how their little personalities develop, but this has opened up interesting dialogue for us to consider.

My father is visiting - he justed walked in the room and I explained the dilema I had posted. He looked at my sweet little Cassidy sleeping in my lap and said "Why would you pass up a chance to have her an extra year, all by herself? What a great opportunity to spend time with her...."

So simple, so true......

Thanks again!
Just for the OP (as I didn't read the rest): Here at my school, in Texas, alot of teachers think that students born after May 31 are to young. They were hoping that a new bill would have passed last year allowing the cut-off date to be May 31 instead of Sept. 1st. My 2nd child was born May 20th. She was a preemie (5 weeks, NICU for 8 days). Her kindergartin teacher tried and tried to get me to keep her back in a program called Pre-1st. That is for kids who did well in kindergartin, but are basically to dumb for 1st grade. I refused. I wanted her to be in 1st grade, and if she had to repeat, then have her repeat 1st grade again. I talked to numerous other teachers in the school district, and they all agreed that if your child needs to repeat have them do 1st grade because kindergartin is more play time then learning time.

So, now she is 2nd grade, and doing well. My other DC is in 1st grade now, and she is doing awesome as well. Both are on the same reading level...2nd grader is right where she is suppose to be now with grade level, and 1st grader is above level.

Oh, and I was held back in 6th grade (most awful thing that my parents did to me, but they had no choice since the school district we were in throughout the younger years would not allow me to be held back, so when we moved to a new district, they held me back), and now as I look back, even though I hated it, I am glad they held me back. I have a brother 12.5 months younger then me, and we were in the same grade from 6th on. We were also in a few high school classes together, and it was great. Except when he would skip school, and the teacher would ask me where he was. What?? "Am I my brother's keeper?" LOL!!!
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I think you should wait until each child is 5 years old and evaluate each child individually if they are ready for school at that time.

As far as a brother and sister being in the same class, when I was growing up there was a brother and sister in the same class, because the boy was held back while the younger sister was not. As, far as I know there wasn't any problems with it.

In regards to younger children being in school and when to have the cutoff date.

My birthday is late in Nov. When I was 4 years old my family moved from PA to RI. In PA the cutoff is Sept 1. In RI, the cutoff is Dec 31. Therefore, in RI I was able to start school at 4 years of age, which I did. I did fine in school, I never had any problems and was always at the top of my class. I never got in trouble. I got straight A's and graduated #1 in my high school. The only other girl I know who was younger than me also never got in trouble, got straight A's and graduated near the top of the class. I was completely ready for school at 4 years of age.

Because I started kindergarten earlier, I went to college earlier, I went to grad school earlier. When I was in my first year of grad school I met my dh, who was in his second and final year of grad school.

If my parents had kept me back a year, I would have gone to college and consequently grad school a year later. I would never had met my dh, he would have already graduated and moved on. We wouldn't have gotten married and our wonderful dd would never had been born. The entire course of my life would have been completely different if I had gone to school later.
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