Sunday, November 25, 2012

Summer's Child, Bad at Math

Pupils born in summer lag behind their older classmates when it comes to maths, a report has found. And children born between May and August are around a third more likely to need extra numeracy tuition, according to the findings.

The report, produced by the Every Child a Chance Trust, studied 47,237 six and seven-year-olds who were among the weakest in their class in terms of numeracy. It found that many summer born children were around 13 months behind the average for their year group in maths.

It comes after a separate study found children with birthdays in the summer are more likely to be unhappy at school, have low self esteem and are less likely to be accepted into top universities.

Children who struggle with numbers are also more likely to be boys, much more likely to qualify for free school meals, to have Special Educational Needs, to speak English as a second language and to come from an ethnic minority background.

But with a short but intense tutoring scheme struggling children can catch up with their peers. After just 3.7 months of support, the children made average gains of 15.7 months.
It's hard to imagine such a massive statistical effect remaining undiscovered until now. It certainly begs the question of what would cause such a large difference, given that kids don't begin to be seriously trained in math until several years after birth, and you would expect any birth effect to be seriously "smeared" by differences in development over that period.

And for what it's worth; I was born in July, and I was not a particularly good student in math in elementary school.  Eventually, somewhere during junior high and high school, I more or less caught up, and  by college, found math to be relatively easy.

Is this some hint of any original seasonality in human reproduction?

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