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Oldest or youngest in their class?

firsttimemomfirsttimemom Registered User Posts: 140 Junior Member
edited July 2005 in Parent Cafe
Was your child one of the older kids or one of the younger kids in their class? How did that affect them? How did it affect your relationship with them? My S. was older, since we were advised to hold him (wayyyyyy back in prekindergarten). H. and I had both been very young and saw the wisdom in letting him be older, although we were very torn about what to do. Finally we realized we had each always felt socially out of it and once this decision came into play, hypothesized that age relative to peers might have contributed to that.

It has been an interesting road. He's often been friends with the kids a grade ahead, as well as in his class. He's not at the tippy top of his class, but has done a very good job overall. Twelve years later, here we are at graduation. Last year I wanted him out of the house yesterday (16 and 17 were tough ages), and now at 18 he's calmer, happier and generally more civilized. More mature, I'd guess you'd say =). So in the end, I'm glad we held him - glad to have been able to send the maturer kid out into the world.

How about you and yours?
Post edited by firsttimemom on

Replies to: Oldest or youngest in their class?

  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    my daughter was a premie ( 10 weeks early) she was due in July so she would have been probably one of younger ones anyway in her class.
    When the neighborhood K teacher suggested that her class wasn't a good fit for her- I was in a little panic what to do.
    I did find a co-op 5s program- that was smaller so not so overwhelming- but the interest level was high. Most parents were using it as a time-out year for their kids. Often boys who were just more active, but sometimes girls who had winter birthdays who needed something besides waiting for a whole nother year.
    I figured at the end of the year, I could figure out whether to enroll her in K or 1st grade.
    By the time that came around, I was less than enchanted with the public school system and while I tried to get her into a public alternative school, we ended up going with a small private school with mixed grades. 2 teachers ( plus full time aide) 30 kids and three grades to a class. K-2. She still was very physically small ( it was years before she hit 40 lbs) and had gross motor issues so having a mixed age class was a good fit, as her academics ( she taught herself to read at 3) were strong.
    I figured she would be in with more of the K students, but her teacher said she was in 1st grade, it didnt' really matter as long as she was at that school because she always was in a mixed grade classroom, but it did make a big difference when she went to middle school.
    Then all of a sudden, no more mixed classes, no PLAYGROUND, and she had 7 periods a day instead of a classroom teacher.
    Hard transistion, then high school at least was same school, but still generally segregated by class, and she was still on the young side.
    She finally took a year off after high school, and even at that late date, I think it made a difference when she began college
    ( I also was young- started K when I was 4- awful and made worse cause I was short)
  • jamimomjamimom Registered User Posts: 3,278 Senior Member
    Gifted studies have shown that the brightest kids overall tend to be the youngest in their class. Maybe, that is so because they are accelerated by the system or parents having them skip a year. The most extensive study I read on this issue was Stanford's Terman studies, but the Johns Hopkins Program came up with the same conclusion some years ago.

    Having said that, I "held back" two of my boys for maturity issues. It did not help much in their class ranks in elementary/middle school years, as they were still not really tuned into academics even with the extra year of preparation, but for highschool, I think it was important. There can be such a big difference between a freshman and sophomore in highschool, and the social pressures can get intense. I think mine were socially and emotionally immature as it was, and if they were with their age group, it could have been even more of a problem that it was. Athletically, it was a boon.

    They say if the kid really needs that extra year, you're going to get "charged" for it either at the beginning of the road or at the end.Though I think kids with that extra year seem to be taking a gap year as much as those who are did not take extra time. I will tell you that that it seemed to me that the kids at the independent private schools seem to be older with many kids with delayed entry than those at the catholic or public schools.
  • minimini Registered User Posts: 26,431 Senior Member
    I never know quite what to make of this, because I think our schools (and the society in which they are embedded) hold back virtually all kids from the maturity they are prepared to express, if given the opportunity. I say this mostly on the basis of what I have known in other cultures.

    I wanted my older one to take a gap year at 16, but not because she was young and/or immature, but, on the contrary, that she was mature enough to make really good use of it. Last night, I dropped her off at the airport, all 17 years of her, to fly to Taipei, change planes and head to Bangkok, change planes and head off to Siem Reap. Then in a week, fly off to South India. She raised all the money for the trip herself - won't cost me a dime. Didn't think of it as particularly odd - my wife hitchhiked all over Europe for 4 months at age 17, staying with all kinds of people she had never met.
  • mootmommootmom Registered User Posts: 4,162 Senior Member
    My younger S is a September baby. We thought about holding him back from kindergarten a year, but he was already really sharp and was already taller than everyone else, so we sent him. I often think it was a mistake, although I have no idea what he would have done for that one more year in preschool, he would have been bored silly and a real discipline problem.

    He's now finishing 10th grade. Interestingly enough, all his friends are 9th graders, except one boy... who was born on the same day he was. :) Kids in his grade have been driving all year; he doesn't take Driver's Ed until this summer. And he won't be 18 yet when we drop him off at college in a couple years. In retrospect, we probably should have kept him back another year.

    Of course, he's 6'4" tall already at age 15, and still growing noticeably (the pants I bought a month ago are already slightly short, eeek), so the height thing would have been a factor whatever grade he was in. ;)
  • A.S.A.P.A.S.A.P. Registered User Posts: 2,663 Senior Member
    My son, 16 1/2, is a junior and the youngest boy in the class. He's slight, but not short for his grade, and more mature than 90% of the grade, imo. I have a hard time imagining what it would be like for him if he had been held back.
    When he was going into K, the prevailing wisdom was that boys with summer birthdays should be kept back - and because of this, most of the boys in his grade are at least a year older than they would otherwise be. Even so, he fits in very well with his grade level.
    I remember struggling with this decision upon entering Kindergarten, as one teacher was recommending that we keep him back because he was such a late talker. His speech therapist said DON'T hold him back because his speech will catch up, and then he'll he misplaced. A wise aunt told me that I would know what to do when the time came, so I went with my gut and let him go. It was the right decision for him. He's always been very mature for his age. We joke that he was born a 40 year-old man. This is such an individual decison, and I think the kids do well regardless, actually. They manage to make it work for them, whether they are young, or older.
  • gandertgandert Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    My 2 Sons are both September bdays and D was Oct. The cut off for entry into Kindergarten was July, as it was they all were amoung the oldest in their classes. We felt that they all benefited from this situation maturity-wise. And all did well academically. Although, my youngest, a Junior, is doing significantly better than his siblings.
  • DebrunsDebruns Registered User Posts: 2,793 Senior Member
    My S was born in October and I sent him to Kindergarten. He was reading and doing puzzles already (always hated coloring/pasting..weird kid that way) and although he was "small" he never had a problem. He was really more mature than most boys his age. In high school (junior now)he commented on how some kids drove before him, got jobs, etc. but then many seniors were just getting their licence also, so it wasn't a big deal. He was never really tall, partly because of scoliosis and partly genes, but again, height shouldn't be a deciding factor. It's different with every kid but most do okay no matter what the parent decides. To do it to give your kid an edge doesn't always work and they might be bored. I remember a mom that gave me pause one day in class. My S and her D got to read with an aide a few times a week in another classroom. One day while she was bragging about her D's many musical, science and school activities, she mentioned her upcoming 6th birthday.I said my S would be 5 then. She started yelling, He's a year younger! I thought they were the same age. She hardly spoke to me again.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,614 Senior Member
    I was always the youngest in my class, then skipped a year in high school, so was in college at 16. I don't regret what I did - I would have been bored to tears otherwise - but there was a big social cost. I was not a happy kid in elementary school or high school - smaller than the rest and not quite able to keep up with the various social games that go on among girls.

    My kids both have April birthdays and I was very happy about that - really eliminates the thinking that goes on around a birthday near the point of the cut off. Like emeraldkity, I chose a public alternative that had mixed grades and a lot of mixed-aged activities -- plus a flexible attitude. My kids were both partially accellerated at some point - my son going to the high school for math when he was in 8th grade, my daughter taking languge arts with 3rd & 4th graders when she was in 2nd grade. So that helped address the intellectual needs without sacrificing the social needs -- in elementary school, my daughter's best friends, even in mixed-age activities, were always kids her own age. Now that she is in high school she tends to socialize mostly with older kids - but that may be a reflection of the classes she is in more than social factors - she started off in 9th grade enrolled in a couple of classes ordinarily reserved for 10th grade or higher. But she is thinking of taking gap year after high school -- so I don't think she is at all worried about her age in relation to peers.

    It's a balancing act. I'm glad I didn't have kids born in the zone where I had to think about "holding back" -- those August-October birthdays can be a real quandary, especially for boys or preemies. I did have to think about accelleration with my daughter - the down side of mixed-grade classes is that was the point she was a 2nd grader going into a 1-2 class - but even though she was only 7 at the time I let her make the decision, and she opted against it. As an accellerated kid myself, I would never recommend it -- rather, I think it is better to look for an educational environment that is more stimulating, or activities outside of school that will help round out a school situation that is less challenging than ideal.

    The problem is, in hindsight, that you never get your childhood back.
  • peoplepeople Registered User Posts: 264 Junior Member
    My daughter graduated from high school last year, not yet 18 years old (Sept b'day). Despite a late birthday, I didn't hold her back due to social reasons (all her little friends in the neighborhood were heading off to kindergarten, and she'd have been crushed to be left behind). At the time, it seems very right. I didn't notice any issues until middle school, when socially she got very insecure socially, feeling like she didn't fit in with "the girls". Seems socially they were always a step ahead through high school, much more confident and savvy than she was. Perhaps it's because girls can be a lot tougher on each other socially. I think she would have benefitted with another year's maturity under her belt.
  • MotherOfTwoMotherOfTwo Registered User Posts: 2,110 Senior Member
    My son was born in early September and my daughter near the end of October. At the time, the school cutoff was Nov 1 but many held back kids born from June on. We did not hold back either of our kids. They have both done well very well academically and fine socially, overall. The only problems I can mention are that between 7th and 10th grade, my son had almost no social life. He was among the smallest boys and also was not interested in girls and other things the other boys were into. Fortunately, he was an excellent athlete and played in leagues by age, where he was one of the oldest, as the cutoffs fell. It would not have been appropriate to hold him back as he graduated at the top of his class and was not immature at all. In junior year, he started socializing more with his classmates, and it is definitely not a problem for him now, as a college junior. It would have been especially bad to hold him back in our particular school system, where there is no tracking for math until 8th grade and the highest math class is Calc AB to seniors, as he was always very bored in math as it was.
    For my daughter, my only regret is that she struggled with math in elementary school - not so much the concepts but she could not learn her math facts easily in the younger grades, and this caused a great deal of stress. She is still not a TOP math student but took Algebra in 8th grade with no problem, received mostly A's in Honors High School math, scored in the mid-600's on Math SAT, and is now taking Honors (not AP) Calc and earning A's easily. It seems that her difficulty with the math facts was developmental, and if she was a year older it would have been much easier. But she is now a senior with an excellent academic and EC record, is very well liked by her classmates, etc. so overall it was fine that she was not held back.
  • DebrunsDebruns Registered User Posts: 2,793 Senior Member

    That might of been the reason, but I was a March baby and felt that way. My
    school had some tough girls that wanted to make anyone else feel inferior. I found a few good friends but true self confidence came later. Sometimes I wish I could go back and give that one liner than would have them speechless. : )
    My S is the youngest in most of his class's , but he'll tell me about the bad choices some make with DUI's, cheating, etc. and you realize maturity doesn't come for some for a while. He was never as into certain things either that other boys did, but always found someone to share his interests with and is very social. When I worried a bit about the college environment he might have (heavy drinking,etc.), he said, Mom, I went to the beat of my own drummer in high school, I'll be okay in college. Of course, I'll still worry, but I hope his attitude helps him along.
  • ladylazarusladylazarus Registered User Posts: 381 Member
    I have a June birthday, so I was young for my grade anyway... skipping fourth grade back in the day put me at about two years younger than everyone else in my class (I was actually originally skipped two grades for English and social studies, but this was nixed when we moved to a different district). Looking back, I am split about whether being so much younger turned out for better or for worse. I have always gotten along much better with adults than with kids my own age; I feel far more at ease with my fellow board of ed members and my parents' friends than with my peers, and my mom is my best friend. I was ready for college a long time ago, and I can't imagine spending another two years in high school. I really can't wait for college. So in that respect, I think speeding up my departure from home is a blessing. Yet I think the social alienation I felt being so much younger than everyone else has taken its toll, especially this year. I have always been very petite, and I had a growth hormone deficiency in elementary and middle school, so I was physically much smaller than my classmates. Academically, I missed two full years of math, which definitely affected my confidence level and preparedness in high school. At the same time, I think much of my isolation came from within and would have played out the same way regardless of what year I was in. When everyone else was obsessed with boys and ogling Justin Timberlake in Teen People, I was reading To Kill a Mockingbird. When everyone else sashayed into school in designer miniskirts and Steve Maddens, I was in button downs and jumpers and frankly couldn't have cared less. I'm introverted and never really fit in, no matter what grade I happened to land in. This social displacement certainly didn't make middle and high school the most pleasant times of my life. But looking back from my vantage point now, I learned so much about myself and came to appreciate and achieve peace within myself, which I really don't think would have happened had I been wrapped up in the chaos that is the high school social scene. Through hard experience, I know my vices inside and out and am therefore equipped to temper them and lessen their influence on my life.I certainly haven't done everything right or "lived up to my potential" in these last three years. But I can now say that I'm ready to plunge into college headfirst and really blossom and find happiness, both academically and socially. So it all works out in the end (hopefully) =)
  • over30over30 Registered User Posts: 2,411 Senior Member
    Mootmom, you and I have the same second child. Everything single thing you wrote applies to my son. He taught himself to read at 4 and in all other ways was ready for 1st grade, which I'm sure is why his preschool and kindergarten teachers (I still talk to and greatly respect both of them) said to start him in school. He has always been the youngest and one of the tallest in his class. Many parents here hold their boys back (not the girls as much) so they will be more mature for sports and/or academics. So the age issue has been apparent.

    Academically he's always been at the top, without having to work much. Socially he's still behind a little, but he might have been anyway as I think a lot of it is just his personality and interests. Sometimes I wish I'd held him back, but most of the time I think we made the right decision. He's very tall and mature looking. He's been much happier at Duke TIP summer programs, around other somewhat geeky kids, than at school. (His description, not mine). His best friend from elementary has moved on to girls and parties. His older brother keeps telling him that he'll find other kids like him when he gets to college. I can only hope.
  • AlumotherAlumother Registered User Posts: 6,233 Senior Member
    Well we can't know, can we? What the right thing is to do? As my engineering friends say, it depends.

    So let me add the flip side. My S has an April birthday. And still he was always the 2nd youngest in his class. Why? All the moms with older boys who had behavior or maturity issues held them back. So now my S, wholly the "normal" median age, and alway labled the "smartest in the class" by the other kids, spent 8th grade with boys who are 6' tall. And 15 months older. Go figure.

    It depends. Like many parenting issues, it's a test of how well you know the material a) your kid b) his/her environment. And there's no dang prep book. This is clearly a charged issue, look at the number and length of the posts.
  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,288 Senior Member
    This topic is of interest to me as it has been a circumstance in my own family. I think this is SO individual and is not anything you can generalize (though I find that people tend to a lot).

    My first daughter just made the kindergarten cut off (here it is Sept. 1) by four days so she was always the youngest in her grade through school. You would never know it, however. And I am talking academically, socially, and emotionally. She graduated first in her class and was someone who possessed leadership qualities and was well liked by her peers, none of whom acted as if she was any younger (if they even knew). So, it was a nonissue in her schooling, as well as at college from what I could tell (has finished one year).

    My second daughter missed the kindergaten cut off by five weeks (has Oct. birthday). Like her sister, she was VERY ready to go to kindergarten around the fifth birthday. She had been in nursery school for two years with the group that was going to head off to K when she was not yet five and missed the cut off. I won't get into all this now, but we even had to move to the next town and build a new house just so she could go to a school that had a policy to look at kids who missed the cut off and evaluate them for K and had let a few in previous years (had to be ABOVE the entering K group, not just ready to be in the group). Long story on that chapter of our lives but the new elementary school did grant her an early entrance. This was and still is, a kid who was not just gifted academically but also socially belonged with older peers. Often, you can get a kid who is intellectually advanced but not necessarily socially but this kid was also socially. She has always been a leader and been close to kids older than herself. Where we live, it is very very popular, particularly for boys, who MAKE the cut off for K (having summer birthdays) to wait an extra year. As an aside, I think an extra year is a fantastic option or gift for some kids but should be used for compelling reasons. Unfortunately where we live, I knew of several cases where it was just so in vogue to wait an extra year as viewed as an advantage to be at the "top" of the class yet in those certain cases, the boys were not immature and in fact, one is now graduating a year early after all (I do think it is right for some kids and in fact, I have a nephew with a July bday who waited but was socially immature). Anyway, this means that MANY kids in her grade were well over a year older. Then, our elementary school has multi age classes (based on philosophy) and so she was ALWAYS placed in a class where there were grades above hers (did first grade in a 1-2-3 class, second in a 1-2-3 class, third in a 3-4 class, fourth in a 4-5 class, fifth in a 5-6 class and then had to do sixth in a 5-6 class), so most of the class was QUITE a bit older than her. This helped with accomodating her learning needs but even then, meeting her needs in school was an ongoing issue and required various individualized accommodations. There was talk of her skipping sixth grade because all her closest friends were graduating and going to middle school (7/8 here) and she would be left at the elem. school and also had already covered sixth grade level work. We did not want to skip another grade because while she would have done fine socially and academically, we did not want her to graduate at 16, which was equivalent to two years early here.

    So, over the years, it has meant lots of advocating to meet her needs in other ways...such as taking high school courses (sometimes with 12th graders) in middle school and so forth. I don't think the answer was to keep skipping grades because meeting her learning needs would be an issue in any grade. Though looking back, it would have been easier to have skipped another grade then go through all the advocating for accommodations. Throughout, she was not only at the top of the class but socially mature and a leader. Nobody treated her as younger. She even directed a show where the majority of the cast were 17/18 year olds around her 15th birthday. So, what happened? She begged to graduate a year early (asking us at the midpoint of tenth grade). I will admit her rationale was valid and thorough in the areas of academics, social development and even her artistic training. So now we have this kid who is graduating at 16 anyway, even though we opted to not skip any more grades on top of the early K entrance. Nobody treats her as younger. She does not come across that way. I think she will fit in just fine at college because she has always mixed with an older peer group. In her summer programs, she was always grouped and roomed with older kids who are now in college or about to enter. She does have friends in her current (11th grade) but that was not a compelling reason to stick around with them another year. She basically is ready to move on. I sometimes wonder about her level of responsibility being on her own but some of that has to do with her personality more than her age. I'm talking of being organized about things and losing things and what not but she will be forced to just do it. She has always been an unusual child and I guess I should have known that she would not follow the "normal" path.

    I also have a sister in law much younger than myself who is gifted and who I watched grow up (she was nine at our wedding). She ended up going from 7th to 12th grade in four years (skipping two) and was still val. Went off to college right after her sixteenth birthday. Did fine and also did grad school and is now a professor. However, in HER case, while academically truly very very gifted, she was not socially advanced (which is truly a more typical gifted profile). And I think in my own kid's case who is graduating pretty much two years ahead of her chronological age as well, at least it seems like it goes BEYOND just academic acceleration. My D wrote a personal statement as an extra thing to submit with all her apps that explained why she had chosen to graduate early and how it had to do with academic, social, emotional, and artistic training reasons which she expounded upon. I guess colleges were quite willing to deal with it as she got in.

    Looking back, some can wonder the what if's...had they either held back or not or skipped or entered early or not...but in my kids' cases, I think we did do the right thing back then as I can't imagine them ever having been in grades lower than they were and in fact, we had to deal with meeting their needs in the grades they were young in because they were still advanced in those grades. I know having my kids be the youngest and in one case, even entering early, went against the TRENDS here but I think these things can be generalized too much and you have to weigh each case. I know back when she was 4 1/2 and entering K, all the parents of the boys who were waiting until age six to enter, seemed to poo poo someone going early. Our elementary school would not even look at her and thus we had to move to the next town to a school who looked at INDIVIDUALS and realized that for SOME kids who missed the deadline, it was still the right placement. I shudder to think that if we had not switched elem schools, my kid would now be in tenth grade and she is actually graduating in a few weeks instead! Each case is just so individual. That is my philosophy.

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