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Summer babies do less well academically in part due to streaming.

(260 Posts)
TwistTee Fri 08-Mar-13 09:42:40

I read this article with great interest and much concern. My 4 yr old daughter, born at the end of August already shows some signs of a lack of confidence and poor concentration when compared to the older kids in her class. Not surprising as some of them are almost a whole year older.
It worries me that she could potentially always be behind and I often question if we made the right decision in starting her schooling at age 4.
I'd be interested in your thoughts and experiences of summer babies in this context. Any tips on confidence issues?
And does anyone have a view on the issue of streaming as mentioned in the article? Her school are about to sort the kids but have not yet decided how. Her teacher said they might do it by age, ability or random. I was keen on the former as it would mean she stays in a class of 20 as opposed to a class of 30.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 13:55:18

I'd like to make it clear I don't have any issue with setting or grouping differentiation, indeed IMO it is necessary.

I have an issue with whole class streaming, which is what happens at our school, from Y1.

Springdiva Fri 08-Mar-13 13:56:21

Mind you I was young in my class and did ok academically and sportswise.

cumfy Fri 08-Mar-13 13:58:24

The Relative Age Effect is extremely well-known, persistent, and well-studied phenomenon.

It does not just disappear if there is no streaming.

Wewereherefirst Fri 08-Mar-13 14:00:55

This isn't what I've seen in my DS1's education, he's in yr2 and has a late July birthday and is second youngest in his class (4/5th youngest across year).

He's top set in Maths, Literacy and guided reading (only things setted at this stage) and has ability across all subjects, but emotionally he is quite immature.

Streaming doesn't come into play at our state school until seniors I think. I wouldn't have liked him to be streamed as the 18 months from reception into yr1 was a steep learning curve for DS, becoming well numerate and literate. If streaming had happened, he may not have progressed that well.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 14:00:56

It doesn't disappear, no, but streaming brings with it a whole host of social issues.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 14:04:07

I don't doubt this thread will be littered with anecdotes of people with bright early developer summer borns.

But what about the average child? The one that is so oft forgotten about on MN. That is who streaming affects.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 08-Mar-13 14:06:56

People all quoting examples of their child not being affected must remember these studies look at statistics of a large group. I'm sure you can find Nobel prize winning scientists who were young in their academic year group. In the article I linked earlier, you can clearly see there are many many august borns admitted to Oxford. Similarly in the wiki article on Relative Age effect linked by cumfy, there are around 150 december born selected.

You simply can't deny the statistics shown by these studies that the "Relative Age Effect" exists. (Thanks cumfy for the link btw).

PhyllisDoris Fri 08-Mar-13 14:08:49

My DD is 17 and about to take her A levels. She was born mid August, so one of the youngest in her year. Her best friend is in the same school year, but is 11 months and 2 weeks older than her. The difference in maturity has always and is still noticeable. So much so that I've persuaded my DD to take a year out before going to uni - she's going to go to work in France for a year and start in 2014.
DD is a bright girl, but has never achieved her potential. I seriously put this down to the fact that she is very young for her school year. I am convinced she would have done much better if she'd been born 15 days later, and so started school a year later.

There will be sure to be exceptions - mature August kids, and immature September kids, but on the whole I think it makes a big difference.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 08-Mar-13 14:09:44

Also, they are studying the high achievers of participants in academia and sports. Though you might say getting into Oxbridge isn't an indication of being very academic.

SaltaKatten Fri 08-Mar-13 14:28:37

There's a fair bit of evidence to show that setting has a negative impact on mid and lower attainers with negligible positive impact on high attaining children. Jo Boaler's " The elephant in the classroom" gives a lot of very interesting information as well.
The toolkit which measures impact of use of pupil premium also has some interesting info about the negative impact on setting.

girliefriend Fri 08-Mar-13 14:34:53

I am really against streaming as someone who was always streamed fairly low and it had a massive impact on my self esteem and confidence. It has only been fairly recently as an adult that i have started to realise I am not thick just not someone who learns well in a classroom environment.

I personally feel 4yo is too young for most children to start school and think we should have the system they have in Scotland whereby the child is 5yo or very nearly 5yo when they start school.

Squiglettsmummy2bx Fri 08-Mar-13 14:43:26

My DS 7 was born 1st august so is 1 of the youngest in his year 3 class but is top of year 3 for maths at a level 4c, the same as year 5 are aiming for. His other subjects are all level 3s & at the high end of his year so no falling behind. I think it depends on the child.

LittleAbruzzenBear Fri 08-Mar-13 14:46:58

I posted on this thread early on so the posts since mine are really interesting reading. I have to say, like girlie I was streamed low at school, but looking back I was very immature, not particularly stupid in any way. My DP's were horrified that I was in the lower set and said I wasn't trying hard enough and was a failure. My esteem was low indeed. I didn't think I would amount to much after that so at high school so started bunking off.

Back to DS1, this is why I am unsure; he struggles socially sometimes, the boys who will be 6 in the Summer have been pushing him around already, he struggles with writing, but his reading is good and his teacher says he is always one of the first to ask questions. I really don't know what to do, education is so important and if I can get it right for him now it could make all the difference.

lljkk Fri 08-Mar-13 14:51:34

I'm not sure if this thread ever entirely determined what the article meant by streaming.

I don't see that any alternative is superior to present system. I have a summer born. So what? Other factors besides his birthdate are Far more important to his long-term academic, sport or other success. Other Factors that I can control (whereas I can't really unbirth him).

nightingale452 Fri 08-Mar-13 14:58:59

It has been noticeable in my DD1's class that in the early years the children in the top group were, on the whole, the oldest, and now she's in year 6 the top group consists of more of a mixture. DD1's birthday is late April and this is the first year she's been in the top group for anything, although they seem to go up and down regularly. Interestingly although the school takes great care not to call the groups 1, 2, 3 and 4, everyone knows which is which, even down to reception.

Looking back at my own schooldays (my birthday is late August) I never did particularly well and always seemed less mature than my peers. I only shone once I went back to college in my mid-twenties.

So saying, someone always has to be the youngest.

AmberSocks Fri 08-Mar-13 15:18:35

theres no streaming at ds school,not til they start was that way with my own school too.

drjohnsonscat Fri 08-Mar-13 15:31:39

springdiva I think there's a section on this in Freakonomics or one of the Malcolm Gladwell books.

I worry about it as the parent of a late August son. I can also see the huge advantage my daughter had by being an October child.

BerylStreep Fri 08-Mar-13 16:19:31

Yes, interesting that streaming seems to have the effect of telling a child - 'this is your place in society'.

I was in an average stream at Grammar school, and I just accepted that good enough results was what was expected of me. Years later though I ended up with a 1st class honours and a Masters with distinction.

We were just discussing the other day that my sister was in one of the lower streams, and she felt she was being told she was thick. That label has stuck with her for all of her life, and you can really see that she lacks confidence.

In my DD's (7) class, we have a lot of young for their age - 9 out of 24 are May / June birthdays (our cut off is end of June for school years). I really notice that generally the older children, who are almost a year older are the ones who win the school prizes, do well at sports day, and get the main parts in the school play. Conversely though, the youngest child in the class is exceptionally precocious, in every sense of the word, and is by far the brightest in the class.

ATouchOfStuffing Fri 08-Mar-13 16:32:07

I have always thought these studies a bit odd. I am a July baby and in my (top) tier at school over half of us were born June-Aug. I really don't think there is as much in it as they think. They have to draw the line somewhere.

goingupinfumes Fri 08-Mar-13 16:35:32

You need to take into account where the child sits in the family as well the get a true feel for the situation? My youngest DS is an august born and there was no hesitation in sending him to school aged just 4 as he has an older brother, so was chopping at the bit to go to school.

ATouchOfStuffing Fri 08-Mar-13 16:38:39

I would like to point out however that the tier system seemed to stop after school and people in much lower sets now have Doctorates and Phd's. Conversely I fell a failure as the only one in top set not to go to Uni. Gave up career aspirations quite early on really! Career/intelligence are not always the same thing and are measured very differently in life to the classroom.

grants1000 Fri 08-Mar-13 16:42:37

With a child in Y6 and Y1 I can honestly say they even out before the of the school year, yes some Sept babies might learn to read quicker and yes some August might learn to read later but it really does no matter at all, because they will do it when the can and when the are ready. All this worry in based upon not being first at stuff and this is NOT what school is all about. This obsession about top and bottom and somewhere inbetween is frankly pathetic and only causes stress for the child and worry for the teacher. Teachers don't have top and bottom groups, streaming does not happen in primary school!! They help each child as they need it and they see necessary.

Parents of summer born children do not worry at all! Some early born kids in the year are very childlike still and some are very mature, it is certainly not a marker for the whole of their school lives, DS1 is 10 in Y6 and struggled so much with reading till Y2, now in Y6 he's on course for L5 (level 4 being average for end of primary school). Age is not the marker to use as snap judgement!

OP how do you know she's lacking? Do you go into school and watch her? Have you read notes on all the other children? Ignore shit in the papers and listen and talk to your teacher and give you child a chance before you start labelling her as 'less confidant' and 'poo concentration' she's younger, get over it, it won't do her any harm at all, only you will with this sort of negative talk.

Talk to the teacher not read the papers and stop setting your kids up to be failures by sodding constant comparrison, praise her, encourage her and nothing else, you don't know and will never know how other children are doing with their education and social skills you only think you do.

Shagmundfreud Fri 08-Mar-13 16:53:35


"I really don't think there is as much in it as they think"

But there is - and there is research to prove it. Of course there will always be some August born children who are in top sets at school. Doesn't disprove the theory.

It really, really bothers me that my youngest (July birthday) has been placed in the bottom set for literacy, not because he's not bright (he is - as bright as my other two who were in top sets all the way through school), but because his behavioural problems (he has ASD) have impacted on his learning. It irks me that he has to work with the two least bright children in class. (one of these children is the spit of Ralph Wiggum). These children have NOTHING to say for themselves. NOTHING. DS has a brain which is alive with ideas, but he struggles with his writing.

Morebiscuitsplease Fri 08-Mar-13 16:53:50

With a July born child who was six weeks early so should have been born mid August. She was definitely young in her year. She lacked confidence and I felt that as she was quiet was overlooked and we were in a vicious downward circle. Her self esteem became very low which was horrifying to see in a 6 year old. We took action, talked to school and managed to turn things round. She is now in top group for reading think she had always been good but had been overlooked and is doing really well. Most importantly she is happy and growing in confidence. The eldest in her close are super confident ...

ixos Fri 08-Mar-13 16:57:42

We can ALL give anecdotal evidence of bright, high achieving summer borns - it doesn't mean that these large and well respected studies are wrong. The evidence IS there, like it or not.

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