INNOVATIONS IN SPORT: Does it Make Good Sense to Hold Your Child Back a Year Before they Start School?
I wasn’t sure about what kind of response I would receive to this morning’s topic – that of holding one’s child back a year in school so that he/she can have an extra year to physically and emotionally mature.
For many ambitious sports parents, having one’s kid being one of the older, and hence most likely one of the bigger kids in class, gives them an automatic advantage.
Indeed, there are lots of studies that suggest that in school and on school teams, coaches and teachers instinctively turn to the older and bigger kids for leadership and also assume academic and athletic superiority. While that’s great for those kids, the oher kids in class who are younger or smaller sometimes develop a shyness or passiveness that may take years to overcome.
The phone calls on WFAN this AM started almost from the moment I mentioned the topic, and they kept pouring in for the entire hour. Clearly this is an issue for many parents that is a controversial one, with lots of observations and anecdotes from the callers on both sides of the topic. There was lots of mention of Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling book OUTLIERS, which details a study that reveals that many current NHL players from Canada and Europe have birthdays in Jan, Feb, or March. That’s because the cut-off date for youth travel hockey teams is Dec. 31st, meaning that the kids who are born in the months right after that date are more likely to be bigger and stronger than their later-born peers. Those extra months of development allow these kids to become more dominant in their age bracket.
Put it this way. When you’re 44 or 45, that one year in age doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of athletics. But for a kid who’s just turned 6 but who has to play against kids who are almost 7, well, that can be a huge difference in terms of athletic ability.
At the end of the show, it was hard to get a real sense of how people felt about this. But I will say this: I asked whether anyone could think of a reason why, as a parent, you wouldn’t hold your kid back in school, and nobody had a good reason why not. It’s something to think about.