Pregnancy, date of birth and scholastic performance

Concrete experiences before abstract learning
December 4, 2017
HELP, my child is ‘SENSORY’!
January 17, 2018

By Dr Melodie de Jager and Cozette Laubser

When couples turn to Developmental Expert, Dr Melodie de Jager, and ask “Is there a preferred time of year to fall pregnant?” she does not hesitate to say “Yes, there most certainly is”. But that said we also need to be mindful of the fact that falling pregnant is a magical process that isn’t always only dictated by a calendar. We should be respectful of the fact that this special time in a couple’s life should leave room for spontaneity and mystery. But for the purposes of this article, we will focus on the developmental and educational benefits gained by falling pregnant at a specific time of the year.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of OUTLIERS, says babies born in the first six months of the school year, which is January to June in the Southern Hemisphere, invariably outperform babies born later in the year, July to December.

“Outlier” is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside the norm.

If you do the maths and work with the assumption that a healthy pregnancy lasts nine months, and if you would like your Baby to be an ‘outlier’- a child that stands out – then late spring, early summer is not the ideal time to fall pregnant. Instead, falling pregnant in the autumn months, will mean you will give birth to a baby early in the new-year.

If you are lucky enough to be able to plan your pregnancy and fall pregnant mid-autumn, (once again according to our seasons in the Southern Hemisphere), research indicates your little one is more likely to be school ready by the time he or she is 6 years old, turning 7 in grade 1.

What does it mean to be school ready?

School readiness means a child is prepared to convert all the multi-sensory FUN experiences of the first six years into abstract thoughts and express it as symbols (including letters and numbers). Typically, children between the ages of five to seven are ready to leap from concrete learning to symbolic learning, IF they have systematically and sequentially developed physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively. For all of these areas to develop well, a little one needs time and opportunity to develop.

Ideal months to fall pregnant from a school readiness perspective:

If you fall pregnant in APRIL, Baby is born in JANUARY

If you fall pregnant in MAY, Baby is born in FEBRUARY

If you fall pregnant in JUNE, Baby is born in MARCH

If you fall pregnant in JULY, Baby is born in APRIL

If you fall pregnant in AUGUST, Baby is born in MAY

If you fall pregnant in SEPTEMBER, Baby is born in JUNE.

Falling pregnant in April seems ideal, but January is a bit of a risky due date due to the frequency of premature births. If baby is conceived in April, there is a slight chance that baby can be born in December, which is not an ideal birth date for various reasons:

  • Your Gynecologist might be on holiday
  • You might go into labour when you are far from home, your preferred hospital, or birth centre
  • Your baby will grow up to be the youngest, or one of the youngest, in their peer group throughout their school career.

In the context of this article, the youngest in a peer group automatically points to your child having less time and opportunity to develop. In other words, their peers will be ahead of them developmentally. The pictures below show the developmental difference between two babies born months apart in the same year.

Baby born January 2017:

Baby born in November 2017:

Both the babies pictured above will go to Grade 1 in January 2024, the year they turn 7. In school, they will be expected to be EQUALLY skilled at sitting up and sitting still; holding a pencil with a correct pencil grip; cutting on a line; waiting and listening the first time- irrespective of age or date of birth. “But that’s not fair!” you might say, while in reality that is the way the South African schooling system works.

My baby was born in the last 6 months of the year. What now?

Babies born later in the year do NOT need more pressure to perform! They do NOT need to reach their milestones earlier, they do NOT need to be ‘hot-housed’, BUT moms and dads just need to be aware that their baby will THRIVE with:

  • regular massage, and
  • a few practical and easy *BabyGym activities to develop the brain wiring needed for physical, emotional, social and intellectual development.

Babies born in the second half of the year need more time to mature, not more pressure, and that is why it might be advisable to consider enrolling your little one for grade 1 in the year they are 7, turning 8 years old. Because one extra year might just be what your child needs to playfully reach school readiness.

*BabyGym is the ideal non-invasive stimulation programme for Mom and Dad to playfully stimulate Baby to brilliance! If you are currently doing (not just attending) BabyGym with your baby, WELL DONE! Don’t stop, baby will thank you for it one day.

Multiply members qualify for 25% off BabyGym 2: Firm Foundation group classes. Would you like to enroll for BabyGym? Click here: https://www.babygym.co.za/