Advantaged by Birth

Your child may have a greater likelihood of success depending on the month of the year they were born.  And no, this has nothing to do with the moon, the sun, the horoscope or any other esoteric reason.  🙂

Last year I read an article on hockey player development and the contention was made that by far, most successful hockey players were born in the months of January to March.  I was a bit skeptical at first so I went through some of the rosters of the CHL, the premier junior league (ages 16-20) from which a large number of the professionals emerge.  Sure enough, it was indeed heavily skewed to birth dates of those months.  Here’s the reason: because the cut-off age for the various leagues for kids starting to play hockey at early ages (they often start hockey at pre-school ages) is December 31st, then the kids born in January are almost a year older than the December-born kids and are likely to possess greater size and mental development. At those early ages, the differences are quite significant. So the January kids naturally play better, and because they play better, coaches and parents figure they have a star on their hands and pay a lot more attention, encouragement and teaching to the January kids than the December kids.

I since discovered that there has been a scientific study of this with youth soccer and it came to the same conclusion.  However, I haven’t found any more studies on this regarding other activities, and I am quite interested if this applies to academic achievement.  Clearly, January to March kids will perform better in early grades than those who were born October to December. Does their performance get recognized by teachers and parents, and the older kids get labelled for success at those early ages? Do these kids absorb that belief in academic success and attention from parents and teachers, then go on to higher education more so than those born later?  I was discussing this with my daughter who is in Engineering at UBC, herself born in July.  She told me that literally all her University friends in her year who graduated high school the same year are older than her, ie born between January and mid-July.  I realize that’s not a large enough sample to draw conclusions from, but based on the sports studies, I fully expect this idea to be true.

 

Scott Adams, (creator of Dilbert), wrote in a blog that one of the best things parents can do for their success is to control the month of child conception so that kids are born in January to March,  That might be going a little far but I think parents would do well to recognize that birth month is a significant factor in how they evaluate the development of their children.  Birth month may lead parents (and teachers/coaches etc) to make wrong assumptions about their child, and cause them to place unrealistically high expectations on the early-born children, and allow the later-born children to languish in unrealistically low expectations. I think the answer is for the adults to provide equal opportunities for all their kids to develop, and simply encourage them to be the best they can be, whatever that is.

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3 thoughts on “Advantaged by Birth

  1. My dad, who taught school for over 30 years, always has said that boys who were born in the first half of the year should be held back one year from starting kindergarten as they were often the ones who were considered “behind” in their academic development.

  2. My dad, who taught school for over 30 years, always has said that boys who were born in the first half of the year should be held back one year from starting kindergarten as they were often the ones who were considered “behind” in their academic development.

    • I would have thought it would be the younger boys, born in the last half of the year (or was his cut-off not the calendar year?). At the age of 5 or so, a half year of development can be quite large.

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