Can you tell we've got school on the brain around here? In recent weeks, we've covered the private school application process and also aligning preschool schedules for your Bunch. Today we're talking about a topic that we're actually personally divided on - academic red-shirting.
Both Linda and I have mid- July babies - ironically enough, they were born less than 24 hours apart, even though their original due dates were 3 weeks and some days apart. Both July babies are the younger members of our respective Bunches. Linda has a girl, and I have a boy. Both children are really bright, socially outgoing, and have been attending preschool of some sort since shortly after they turned one. I am pretty sure that we will hold our son back and start kindergarten when he is six and Linda is almost equally as sure that she will go ahead and send her daughter right after she turns five. One thing we both agree on is that, as with all parenting decisions, what's right for you depends on your kid and your family.
In addition to child readiness, we're also weighing the implications of red-shirting when your crew is Bunched. The thought of having kids just one grade apart is nice. It's all the sooner you get everyone into kindergarten and you can get back to work or whatever your plans are. The curriculum, the homework, the teacher's idiosyncrasies, etc. are all fresh in your mind as a parent, so you can help your younger child navigate the school year. Plus your younger sib has the benefit of drawing on the wisdom of the older one that may have taken many of the same classes (and maybe even the same teachers) just the year before. It's likely (especially in the high school years) that they end up on the same sports teams and maybe even in some of the classes. I confess that I even envisioned knocking out all the year's sporting events, school plays, awards ceremonies, and other events in one fell swoop, with everyone being featured at one event.
For this first time this year, I am considering the flip side. That my sons have VERY different learning styles and it might be nice if they didn't have the same teachers and the youngest didn't follow the oldest one immediately. That it might be nice for us as parents if we could buy another year's time before having to assume the private school price tag for our second son. That my July boy acts awfully young compared to some of the older kids in his preschool class, some of whom were born almost 11 months earlier than he was. Especially as a boy, I wonder what he has to gain from being the youngest kid in his class, even if he is bright. After all, I can supplement him outside the classroom academically if needed, but I can't really shore up his social immaturity. And finally (selfishly), the sooner I get them all into kindergarten the sooner I have to figure out what to do with the rest of my life now that the part I most looked forward to (staying home and loving on babies and toddlers) is done.
We still have another year and a half until he turns five and a lot can happen in that time, so I guess I'll just wait and see. And it won't be the last time I have to make this decision - my youngest son was born almost exactly three years after the second, also in July.
I know Linda and I will have many more discussions on this topic until we work it out in our heads and figure out what's best for the kiddos. Anyone care to join in on the conversation?