Both of my boys have summer birthdays. They are one of the youngest, if not the youngest, in their class. My oldest went to preschool when he was 4 years old and my full intentions were to send him to Kindergarten in the fall after he turned 5. I had fellow moms in my life who were surprised that I would even think about sending my child to Kindergarten at such a young age.
The unwanted opinions of the other moms started in the spring of his preschool year. They would chit chat for a while and then slyly ask how old my son was as we discussed the upcoming Kindergarten year, “Oh, why don’t you hold him back until next year?” and “There isn’t any rush to start school, another year would be good for him.” And of course the ridiculous one that I heard multiple times, “He has a summer birthday AND he’s a BOY so you should hold him back.”
I started to question my child. I started to question myself. Was there some merit to what these moms were saying? Was I pushing him into Kindergarten? Should I hold him back a year because of his age? Should I hold him back because he’s a boy with a summer birthday and not a girl with a summer birthday?
In addition to my husband and close family, I ended up sharing these concerns with my son’s preschool teachers who assured me that he was more than ready for Kindergarten. I knew his teachers well and I also knew that they had a history of sharing their concern with parents when the child in question really wasn’t ready for Kindergarten-no matter when their birthday was. When it came down to it I had to block out the advice from other moms and go back to why I thought he would be okay to start Kindergarten as the youngest in his class.
Because I knew my child best.
I have a summer birthday as well so I was glad that I could look back on my education to see if this “young summer birthday” theme held any water. And it doesn’t. Yes, I was always the youngest. Yes, I was the last one to get a driver’s permit and the last one to get a license. I was also 17 when I graduated and a very young and naïve 18 when I left for college. But I am so thankful my own mother didn’t hold me back.
Now, that my oldest is entering Junior High, it is comical to think that other moms advised that I hold him back a year. When it came down to it, I knew my kid. I knew what he needed and I knew that he was fully capable of keeping up with his classmates intellectually. I totally understand other moms who do hold a child back for whatever reason, and that is great for them. My point is that a parent knows their child best. When the world tries to convince you on how to parent always come back to the fact that you know your child.
You know your child best.