The Edmond Sun

Opinion

May 24, 2013

Let kids start school on a normal schedule

EDMOND — Q: Our son’s fifth birthday is in August. He did just fine, socially and academically, in preschool, but the counselor at the school he’s slated to attend has recommended that we hold him back a year because of his late birthday. She says that kids with late birthdays, especially boys, do better if they’re given an extra year of maturation before starting school. What do you think?

A: The practice of postponing Kindergarten for so-called “late birthday” children — generally defined as children having birthdays after May — got its start about 20 years ago and has generated the usual unintended consequences. Prime among those is the fact that by delaying the start of school for children having birthdays after May, schools only create a new crop of children with late birthdays — those occurring after January.

It’s true that during early elementary school, boys are less mature in several respects than girls. In general, their attention spans tend to be shorter. Therefore, they’re more impulsive and more easily distracted. It’s also true, however, that some children, boys as well as girls, experience developmental “spurts” during Kindergarten. The slightly immature, impulsive 5-year-old may be at the norm one year later.

As a result of this rather uniform recommendation, a disproportionate number of late-birthday children are given test batteries to further determine their readiness for school. The fact is, however, that the predictive reliability of IQ tests and other measures of ability is questionable with children this young. And when such tests are off the mark with a given child, they tend to be lower rather than higher.

The late-birthday recommendation is also influenced by the test score mania that currently grips American schools, public and private. Giving close to 20 percent of children an extra year of preschool is bound to raise overall test performance during the early elementary school years.

For a number of reasons, classroom discipline has relaxed considerably since the 1960s. This has unharnessed the impulsivity and distractibility of boys, especially. I have to believe that this contributes significantly to the fact that disproportionate numbers of boys are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder during early elementary school. If the hypothesis is true, then some kids are being medicated primarily because school discipline isn’t what it used to be.

Holding late-birthday kids back a year may mitigate this problem somewhat, but it fails to address the larger issue.

My general feeling is that if a child’s birthday allows him to attend school, and the child doesn’t have obvious developmental delays, then he should attend school. If at the end of that school year, his teacher recommends an additional year in Kindergarten, then leave him in Kindergarten. One of my grandchildren spent two years in Kindergarten and he’s now a nearly straight-A student in high school. That second year gave him lots of confidence he wouldn’t have obtained by spending another year in preschool.

FAMILY PSYCHOLOGIST John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results