The academic baby jackpot!

Posted by Crab and The Fox on

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Unless you're a big believer in astrology, you might think that the month you're born in has little impact on who you are, your achievements or where you're likely to end up in later life.

But, it seems you’d be wrong.

Research has shown that children born in the summer months often lag behind their peers for the rest of their lives. Summer babies are predicted lower marks, less confidence and a higher risk of being unhappy.

This may explain why more and more people are planning the conception of their future children around school term times. 

With the cut off for each school year being the 1st September; any child born on or just after this date, will become one of the oldest in their school year group. 

So what does the research say?

Research shows that those born in the summer, fare academically worse than their autumn born counterparts... and this is the same whether we look at their achievements in primary school, senior school and right through to university. It's thought that by the time a summer born child moves on to secondary school, the gap in ability between the oldest and the youngest in his year group is a whopping 12%!

It's even been found that babies born during the summer time are more likely to leave school at 16, whereas those babies born between September and November are 25% more likely to be offered a place at Oxford or Cambridge. Even GCSE grades are lower for babies born between June and August by 6.4%, compared with autumn babies.


The writer Malcolm Gladwell and his study of "Outliers", (exceptions to just these types of rules), looks at why some people achieve more than others in life.

He draws a parallel to Canadian ice hockey teams. Their new season starts each year on the 1st January, and the eligibility for the under-11 and under-12 teams coincide with this. This means that the smaller, younger boys born in December are all fighting for a place on a team against the older and bigger boys born in January. It's therefore no coincidence that most of the professional Canadian ice hockey players were January and February babies. It seems those poor December hockey players were set up for failure from the start. 

So is it the same with our school system? Are summer born babies really this severely disadvantaged?  

Over the past ten years, September and October have consistently been among the three most popular months to give birth in England and Wales, so it certainly seems like there are a lot of planners out there, and a lot of people that believe this is something worth planning for.

Baby With a Computer | Baby Genius | Autumn Babies | Crab and The Fox UK

"Oh no a May baby"

The Firebug is a May baby...

And suddenly I feel I've overlooked something pretty crucial. Something that won't be overcome by attending multitudes of baby classes, tutoring or any other pushy mum tactics I can muster. 

What surprised me most when looking at these stats, is the impact of being a summer baby had in later life, and education over the age of 18. You would think that by 18 years old, the children would have caught up and made up for any developmental disadvantages that were there when the age gap was more pronounced during those very early years. But this doesn't seem to be the case.

It seems that many experts believe the reason for this is that these younger children are labelled at a very early age of being "less able" and "less capable". And as many of us will know, once you've been given a label it can be difficult to shake it. 

So perhaps that's the key to this. I can't change the Firebug's birth month, but I can do whatever I can to limit his exposure to these labels and stereotypes. Encouraging and praising him for the age appropriate progress he makes, particularly during his younger years; and instilling as much confidence as I can in himself. 

I was the youngest in my year group, and it didn't seem to do me much harm after all.

And let's not forget, there have been some great Summer Baby achievers:

1. Barack Obama
2. Neil Armstrong
3. Andy Warhol
4. Bill Clinton
5. Robert De Niro

I feel there is hope for him yet!

So, if your baby is due this month - congratulations, you either planned very well or you've hit the academic baby jackpot!

But if your little one is still just a twinkle in your eye... Perhaps keep your legs crossed for now, well at least until the New Year!

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