An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

A Question about August Babies

In Healing, parenting on March 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Parenting issue bothering you? Would you like another perspective on things? Feel free to email Farah at farahbenhalim@gmail.com. If you would like to remain anonymous please let her know. For her bio please visit the ‘authors’ page.

Question:

We have been very concerned over our son’s schooling situation in that he has been pressurised to learn faster than he is happy and we don’t know what to do. He is a whole year younger than his class and wants to stay home!  We have a possibility of keeping him back but they think he might get teased for it in the playground as this has happened to a boy before who didn’t follow his peer group. The other alternative is to send him to another school and begin from K1 from scratch so it would be a new class and a new school, no teasing and he is in his age group.

Farah says:

My daughter Aminah who is now in year four is an August baby, so hopefully I will be able to shed some light on the situation.  Although she is now settled and happy in her class, it has taken many years for her to come to a place where she feels comfortable and confident.  My daughter didn’t necessarily have a problem academically, but more so socially.  With her shy demeanour, she found being around older children quite intimidating.   Looking back, I would have preferred that she transferred to a class with children her own age.  It would have given her an opportunity to form a stronger bond with her classmates and also would have felt more confident and secure at an earlier stage.  When we ask too much of our children during the all important formative years, it can damage their self-esteem.  You don’t want your child left feeling inadequate and wondering why he can’t do the things asked of him.  When our children are young, the most important aspect of the early learning years is enjoyment and forming a love of learning which will carry on for life.  An aversion to school or learning at such a young age is worrying, so I would highly suggest placing your son in another school where he can make a fresh start.  Ultimately, schooling should be a positive experience academically and socially.   Keeping him behind a year may seem like a step backwards, but actually will improve his academic performance in the long run, because it will give him the opportunity to develop a positive attitude to learning, As you may already know, in Scandinavian countries children do not even start school till the age of seven and quickly catch-up to and even surpass their educational counterparts who start school at age four.   There are other studies that show that boys in particular are not necessarily ready to sit down and be still for such a long length of time.  It makes me think that children would be better off running and playing in the park with their friends, building a confident and strong sense of self before delving into the world of academics. I do believe, however, when children are older, it is important to encourage them to rise to the occasion when faced with challenges and difficulty.  However, to get to a place where our children feel they can overcome challenges, they need to come from a very secure and strong sense of self which is developed in the early years.  When your child is able to do the tasks asked of him which suit his level, he will feel a great sense of accomplishment and will want to quickly progress to his next achievement.  Furthermore, if he is allowed to enjoy school without a strong emphasis on performance, his zest and enthusiasm for school should return Inshallah.

If any of our readers would like to add to Farah’s advice or offer an alternative solutions and insights that would be highly welcomed.

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  1. My brother (now 28) is an August baby and struggled through all 13 years of school. We “joke” that he actually went to high school for 5 years because he was in summer school every summer. He was also developmentally and socially behind all the kids in his class. He was always smaller and much more immature. My mother deeply regrets never holding him back. He even switched schools in the 7th grade, which would’ve been the optimal time to take him back a grade. But she was so afraid of the stigma attached that she allowed him to continue to struggle. It has affected him deeply as an adult, his self esteem, relationships, ability to keep a job, etc.

    I also have a good friend with a daughter who was a late summer baby. She was always ahead of her class when it came to academics, but she was physically much more immature than her classmates. She developed later, got her period later, and learned to drive later. Her mother once said to me, “It makes me nervous that my child is riding in cars with other new drivers instead of BEING the new driver. I would be able to assess her driving skills but now I have to trust that other parents taught their children well.” I never thought about that aspect of the argument. Unfortunately academics is only a PART of what goes on in school. This girl struggled socially and is still quite introverted.

    My son is a November baby, but if he had been born in July or August there is no question I would wait to send him to school until he turned 6.

  2. Sometimes, we forget the essentials in all our planning. I would start with does your son feel loved? Is he happy? It’s not easy chopping and changing at times and i feel whatever change we make should be done with wisdom. Each case is different. May be there’s isn’t a fixed rule. Children sprout at different ages before seven. To give an example, my daughter was at a private international school and they felt she wouldnt be able to cope with year 1 and so wanted to keep her back. We fortunately came to the UK then and in the first term, her new teacher said, she made more progress then some of her children had made in two years. I certainly felt as a parent she is much happier in her new school which may be one of the reasons of her progress.

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