Academic redshirting, or holding your child back a year in school, has become increasingly more popular over the years. The phrase academic redshirting is a play on a term typically applied to college athletes (especially football quarterbacks) who sit out a year to hone their skills. Most often, parents redshirt a child before he/she starts kindergarten.
As I was researching the subject, I found that In 1968, 4% of kindergarten students were six years old; by 1995, the number of redshirted first- and second-graders had grown to 9%. And by 2008, it had risen to 17%. It is interesting to note that the majority of redshirted Kindergartners are Caucasian males with summer birthdays whose parents are college-educated.
Kindergarten cut-off dates vary widely from state to state, ranging from Aug. 1 to Jan. 1. In my home state of Georgia, a child must be 5 by Sept. 1 to enter Kindergarten. My son turned 5 on July 17, which is what has put us in the thick of the redshirting Kindergarten debate.
5 Reasons to Redshirt Kindergarten
1. Academic Expecations
Ask anyone from Generation X or the Baby Boomer generation, and they’ll agree that Kindergarten has really changed over the years. Whereas once many Kindergartens were half days, most now are full-time, meaning a child is at school upwards of 7 hours a day. Some claim that the longer school Kindergarten days directly correlate to increased pressure on standardized testing. Today’s kindergarten curriculum is more academic than in the past, and the pace of learning sight words and eventually reading is a prime focus and goal for the year.
2. More Seat Time; Less Play Time
Along with an increased focus on standardized testing comes a decrease in creative play time, naturally. Kindergarten used to be more of a transitional year, but now has been termed the “New First Grade” as Kindergartners are compelled to do more and learn faster.
As a mother of multiple boys, I know how difficult it is for boys to sit still and remain focused for any amount of time. Some teachers are wonderful at catering to boys, but there’s no guarantee your child will be fortunate enough to have those teachers. Historically, public school classrooms have a higher student-to-teacher ratio, which puts more pressure on the teacher to manage and control all those little bustling bodies in any sort of orderly fashion. So between classroom management and a boosted academic curriculum, seated time is much more common in Kindergarten than in preschool.
3. Developmental Delays
A developmental delay is when your child doesn’t reach certain milestones in a time frame comparable to peers. These delays may be found in the skills of speech and language, motor, cognitive, emotional, social and behavioral. If your child has a borderline birth date and sees a specialist for any delays, it’s a good idea to talk through your redshirting questions with the specialist to get a better feel for how your child would do in Kindergarten.
4. Ongoing Health Issues
If your child has health issues and a birth date near the Kindergarten enrollment cut-off, redshirting should be a consideration. You should think back to the past year, especially if your child attended a full-time or part-time preschool, and recollect how many days of school were missed due to health-related issues or illnesses. Some health issues improve with age as the immune system matures, so redshirting your child may benefit him or her when it comes to health issues.
5. Gut Instinct
It’s true that you know your child best when it comes to making schooling decisions. Maybe you’re worried about confidence levels or social interactions or size or a late-summer birthday. Maybe you’re thinking that the gift of time would do a world of good for your child. Whatever you’re thinking, you’re probably right.
What are your thoughts on redshirting Kindergarten?