So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

I remember it well: nearly-5-year-old me, throwing a huge hissy fit at my mom because I wanted to go to school with my BFF, Erin, who had just started kindergarten. How could Erin go without me?? We lived across the street from each other and didn’t remember life without each other. Born just 10 days apart (she was August 26th and I was September 5th), we were inseparable.

Until her mom decided she was ready for kindergarten and my mom “redshirted” me. I was held back, and I was mad about it! Our cutoff for kindergarten was a September 30th birthday, but my mom, who went on to get a master’s in early childhood education, believed I wasn’t ready yet—and overall, that most August and September kids would do well if they were held back a year and started kindergarten as one of the oldest in the class instead of one of the youngest.

Spoiler alert: Erin and I both turned out fine. However, science agrees with my mom. A 2017 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research conducted in Florida, where the kindergarten birthday cutoff is September 1st, says that August-born kids who are held back simply perform much better in school than their peers who are not. The study also found that those September babies who had no choice to start kindergarten until later because of Florida’s September 1 cutoff were more likely to go to and graduate from college than their August-born peers, and were less likely to commit crimes as a juvenile.

The reason for these findings is pretty simple: if held back, the child’s brain has more time to develop before kindergarten. Katherine Firestone, founder of the Fireborn Institute, a non-profit dedicated to parent training recently told Parents Magazine, “If you are the oldest in your class, your brain has had more time to develop than all the other kids, So, while an August baby may have the same IQ as a September baby, their brain hasn’t had the same opportunity to grow and mature. So, the September baby is socially adept and his brain is ready to learn to read, but the August baby is 11 months behind and may not yet be ready, making things like reading and friendships more difficult.”

There ya go, moms and dads. It’s science. It’s not personal.

Since I was one of the very oldest in my class at school, and my BFF was 10 days older than me but a year ahead in school, this issue has always fascinated me. As a matter of fact, I remember being very grateful that I didn’t have any “summer birthday” kids so I didn’t have to make a hard decision like this! As I grew older, I became grateful for my mom’s decision to hold me back. Though I was mad at her at the time, and I think I would have done fine academically no matter what, I believe that from a social and maturity standpoint, I benefited from being one of the older kids in my class. What’s more, I am INFINITELY grateful that I went to college as an almost-19-year-old instead of an almost-18-year-old. Not sure I could have handled being on my own a year earlier, and I believe that most kids who come from stable homes can benefit from an extra year at home before they are released into the real world.

I know the debate over “redshirting” can get pretty heated in the parenting world (especially when it comes to youth sports), but the bottom line is: most kids (because there are exceptions to every rule, of course) do better when they start school a little older. 

Do you have an August or September baby? What’s the kindergarten birthday cutoff where you live? 

Jenny Rapson

Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.

Dear Kindergarten Teacher, I’m Giving You My Baby

In: Kids
newborn baby swaddled and sleeping

I just dropped my daughter off for her first day of kindergarten, and you couldn’t have been more wonderful. You caught her eye from across the playground and immediately waved. You greeted her by name with a warm smile, and you were totally OK (encouraging, even) with me hanging around for a while before actually leaving her. You looked me in the eye, smiled and greeted me happily, and pretended not to notice when I started tearing up while introducing myself. (Thank you for that.) My daughter was the first of your students to arrive, and you chatted with her...

Keep Reading

Childhood Is Messy with Imagination and I Want to Remember It All

In: Kids, Motherhood
Toys on bedroom floor

Sometimes I take random photos on my phone of my son’s bedroom or what he has built with his LEGOs. I do this because I know how quickly things change while he is this young. What he builds with LEGOs is always evolving, becoming more intricate and sophisticated. When I look around his room and see everything that is there, it’s like a snapshot of the season we are in. And all I want to do is capture each season. Capture what life looks like for us, for him. I envision showing him these photos when he is grown, maybe...

Keep Reading

God Bless the Middle School Teachers Who Love Our Tweens and Teens

In: Kids, Teen, Tween
Middle school students smiling

I keep seeing articles about kindergartners heading off to school for the first time, and parents are feeling all the things kindergarten parents feel. I’ve been a middle school teacher for my entire career, and I know for sure that middle school parents are feeling all the feelings too. We teachers are ready to receive your babies in middle school too. In our neck of the woods, middle school starts in sixth grade. Fifth graders were at the top of the pyramid in elementary school, but they arrive in middle school as the little ones. In the eyes of the...

Keep Reading

6 Things the Parent of a Child With Medical Needs Learns

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child holding baby doll

My 9-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few months before her 2nd birthday. She uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to watch her blood glucose levels and a pump that administers insulin. Before these amazing pieces of medical technology, we were pricking her fingers up to 10 times a day and giving insulin injections at about the same rate—ouch! There are many parents out there with children with special medical needs. One mom I know has to give her autistic son enemas every day because of digestive issues. Another mom has a child with highly specialized dietary...

Keep Reading

As Another School Year Begins, Remember Mama: You Know Your Child Best

In: Kids, Motherhood
little girl holding a first day of kindergarten sign

Dear mom buying school supplies and feeling overwhelmed, Stop and pray. Ask God to help you envision each child as the young adult they can be. Write out your goals for that child . . . fair warning, there will likely be very little academic success in your goals. You may even have to go back and write those in. Take a deep breath. Keep this list of goals nearby. Go back and read them when the world is telling you your child doesn’t stack up somewhere. They aren’t reading as fast, they’re not “getting” math, their handwriting is wonky,...

Keep Reading

Every Time the Doctor Says, “It’s a Girl!” My Heart Grows a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sisters sitting on park bench

When I’m in the grocery store with my girls, I always get comments. My oldest girls are walking near the cart with my two-year-old running up and down the aisles. “Three little girls! Wow! God bless you, Momma!” Then they look in my cart and see the car seat holding my nine-month-old. “Is that a baby boy in there?” “No, another girl!” I reply. I get a variety of responses when people realize I have four girls under the age of seven. “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” “Going to try for a boy?” “You are truly blessed—your girls are...

Keep Reading

Raising a Child with a Severe Food Allergy Affects the Whole Family

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy looking at ice cream cone

I saw something recently that said, “It’s National Ice Cream Day today!” and I cannot stop thinking about it. Now I know that sounds silly, but as a mom of a child with a severe dairy (and egg) allergy, I must admit at times it makes me sad (and more often jealous if I’m being completely honest) when I know my son is going to miss out on another fun or “normal” thing that other kids his age are experiencing, like actual ice cream and ice cream parties. If I continue to be honest, I get jealous when I see...

Keep Reading

So You’re Not the Fun Parent…So What?

In: Kids, Marriage, Motherhood
Woman reading book while two play in background

I’m not the fun parent in our household. Of course, this comes as no surprise to me but it still stung when my 8-year-old said to me rather bluntly the other night, “Daddy’s way more fun than you.” And while the rational part of my brain knows better than to take this kind of comment to heart, my super-sensitive, highly emotional primitive brain did the exact opposite and ran with it.  Daddy is the more fun parent. I’m the stricter, more rigid, and more uptight parent. I’m not the type of parent who, in the spur of the moment, will...

Keep Reading

Mine Is the Shy Kid

In: Kids
Girl sitting on side of playground

I’m the mom of one really shy child. But not your quintessential shy kid. I don’t mean she is “slow to warm up,” because my daughter might not warm up at all. And I don’t mean that she’s only shy until she gets to know you. There are friends and family members she still hides from or won’t talk to. What I mean is my almost-4-year-old struggles so much with her shyness that it’s hard for her to interact with most people. Especially her peers. I’ve Googled more than you could ever imagine about this topic: How shy is too...

Keep Reading

In This Magical Place Called Kindergarten

In: Kids
Kids at elementary school circle time

It’s hard to put into words what happens in a classroom in the course of a year. Especially a kindergarten classroom. For many children, this is their first experience away from home, from their place of comfort and security—the place where they can always be themselves. But teachers are a special breed—especially teachers of littles. And they step into this substitute role with the biggest hearts and the most love to give. They take this unknown, intimidating place and then transform it into a magical, wondrous adventure. A classroom, a community, a family. A place where these little people can...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.