Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Redshirting?

My husband's former girlfriend Emily is a reader of this blog (Hi, Emily!) and an e-mail article forwarder.

A while ago she sent us an article from the June 3rd issue of The New York Times Magazine entitled, "When To Send Children To Kindergarten" by Elizabeth Weil.

I didn't read it until last week and now it has me freaked out and confused.

The article describes how 25% of Americans... or maybe it was 25% of affluent Americans... I can't remember....I have a brain the size of a tiny pea, I tell you!!

Anyway, some people are waiting an extra year (or more) to start their children in kindergarten in order to give their kids an advantage in academics and sports.

Apparently "studies have shown" that more mature students are able to perform better than their younger peers.


This practice of "redshirting" kids may help those children held back but, at the same time, it is accused of widening the gap between the "haves" and "have nots."

Since families with lower incomes don't have a childcare option available to extend the time before their children go to school they are left being the youngest children in their kindergarten classes, underperforming, developing low self-esteem, etc.


Both The Mayor and The Rooster have late birthdays so starting them in school at the usual time will put them solidly in the younger half of their classes.

The Rooster will most likely be the youngest in her class because her birthday is two days before the cut off date.

K and I feel totally confused by this article, by the practice of redshirting and in our role as parents who care about offering every advantage to our children but also about being responsible members of the community.

We can't figure out what to make of this article.

In early July I was e-mailing back and forth with Laura from Blog Con Queso about how I didn't have any goals related to my blog.

She suggested that I just didn't have any blog goals yet.

I realized (eventually - because I am SLOW, O.K.?) that I've had a blog goal all along.

The goal of this blog is to build a community of support and connection around this mysterious and abstract practice of trying to be a parent.

So often blog friends offer
comforting words of reassurance and commiseration as well as truly useful parenting ideas.

So, I bring the issue to anyone who might be reading this.

Have you heard of this redshirting thing?

What do you make of it?

How do you decide if you should send your child to kindergarten or wait?

I e-mailed this article to some of my real life friends and I've posted their answers in the comments section, but I'm interested in gaining a deep and thoughtful perspective on this issue.

I want to do what is right.

And then I want to talk about farts some more.

144 comments:

Oh, The Joys said...

It's total bullshit in my book. And happens frequently. And schools pander to it. I haven't read the article yet, but will. So infuriating. I say go with what works for your kidlins, not how they will fare against others. I skipped a grade and was therefore always the youngest and I have no regrets...

[Sent by F, Grad Student and Mom]

Oh, The Joys said...

J:

I think that it makes sense to "hold your kid back" in only a few situations:

- your kid will be one of the youngest ones in his/her class (i.e their b-day is near or at the deadline)

- you have some concerns (potentially confirmed by your kid's Pre-K teacher) that your child might not be mature enough for Kindergarten (usually has to do with the ability to focus for long periods of time, behavior issues, comfort level with structure, etc.

When G was in Kindergarten, I remember being struck by how much time the teacher had to spend with basic behavior issues and socialization to group living. There were several kids in his class who had either never been in a group setting, or weren't mature enough to handle it if they had. The main issues were a) listening; b) being able to follow multi-step directions; c) being able to sit and focus on one thing for more than 1 minute.

I think the issue for kids (and its more often boys in my experience - they seem to mature more slowly than their sisters) is that if they have so much work to do on the process side, its hard for them to really absorb the content being offered. And there is a lot of heavy-lifting going on academically in Kindergartn, so that's no joke.

As to Rooster and Mayor - you know best, but I think its too early to tell. The Mayor will be 4 months younger than G (March vs. June b-day) when he starts, as our cut off is Sept. 1st, right? I wouldn't even start worrying about it until he's in Pre-K. There's a lot of cognative and behavioral change thats going to occur between now and then. Breathe deep - there's a lot to stress over, and you don't need to take this on right now.

peace out, mama

[Sent by E, City Planner and Mom]

Oh, The Joys said...

Let's talk.

[Sent by M, Colleague and Mom of four]

Oh, The Joys said...

short answer (because i have a lot of thoughts on this):

T (my next door neighbor) held her oldest daughter back a year to give her more confidence.

another neighbor down the street is thinking about starting her daughter in kindergarten early because at nearly three years old she's communicating better than the average adult.

i think the bottom line is that everyone has different ideas on it, there's no right or wrong, blah blah blah, you just have to know your kid and make the best judgement call.

[Sent by P, Writer and Mom]

Oh, The Joys said...

I spoke with K about this (I read it already) and I agree it made
me more confused, and scared me further that I'm not giving W
the best chance at being a leader by sending him on.

I'm not the person to talk to.. I'll have more data in a year or so!

[Sent by M, Stay at home Mom]

Oh, The Joys said...

Hi Jess,

Thanks for sending the article it is interesting and seems useful. Like many things I read about what to do about kids, it makes me nervous and makes me doubt myself. It all seems so complicated and so high stakes. So to combat that feeling I remind myself that most of the time life works out one way or another.

Along those lines, my first thought is that going on-time or holding back The Mayor or The Rooster won't matter all that much. I think they will both do very well ultimately--they have great social and verbal skills, quality daycare, excellent parenting (really), a two-parent family etc etc etc.

My second thought is to have you talk with B since she teaches kindergarten at the school The Mayor and The Rooster will go to and can tell you a lot about the curriculuum. I know that they don't get to take a nap (B thinks not having a rest period is a problem but has to go with it more or less) and wonder if our kids will still want or need a nap in that year.

My third thought is that each kid is different. Having an August birthday I was always one of the youngest and smallest kids and I was fine. I might have been bored starting school later. I was picked last for kickball but am not sure another year would have changed that. My brother repeated kindergarten and felt resentful about it for a long time. Based on his skills and his late July birthday, he probably needed to wait for kindergarten but he definitely felt shamed by repeating the grade. I wonder if our kids would feel like that since they have a clear sense of the sequence of classes--the younger kids would catch-up to them if they stayed in Pre-K two years. E has been one of the youngest in all of her classes at daycare and I think this has been good for her. She always learns from the bigger kids and so far has been motivated by it. They also haven't wanted her to stay behind because the developmental sequence of the class follows the year. I assume that we will start kindergarten on schedule mainly because I don't want to pay another $8000 for school and don't think she would qualify for a second year of lottery-funded pre-K. Oh how my cheapness trumps many other considerations....

[hubs] may have other thoughts about this. He definitely found it advantageous to be one of the oldest kids in his class (Halloween birthday).

Best,

G

[Sent by G, Therapist and Mom]

Oh, The Joys said...

Jessica--

I don't have a strong opinion on the matter and will support whatever choice you make.

However, here are my 6 cents (inflated,, well, due to inflation). They add up to one conclusion: you should send your kids to k-garten as soon as possible.

Cent 1: They've been through the day care system, which is great socialization, and will go through pre-K, which is wonderful preparation for writing, reading, math, and science.

Cent 2: You will be relieved by the time and money you'll save, which is a legitimate consideration.

Cent 3: Who cares what hopped-up wealthy New Yorkers are doing? These are the same people who signed their kids up for $20,000/year day cares two years before they were conceived to be sure that their child would get into Harvard. Your kids will do fine at k-garten and beyond. Remember your pre-chilid mantra, "My children are average in every way." It's a tough one to hold onto but it's worth the struggle to avoid the overbearing parent and anxious kid reality.

Cent 4: Unless your kids are diagnosed with a learning or social disability, they'll handle the challenges and grow, and they'd be bored stiff going through pre-K twice. It's not a good idea to protect them from all challenges.

Cent 5: I don't think you want to send your child the message that it's good to game the system in order to beat out the other kids. Competition on a level playing field is fine.

Cent 6: I'm not sure the state allows you any choice in the matter unless you're certified to home school. I've never heard you express a desire to home school.

As I say, I don't have a strong opinion on the matter.

M

[Sent by M, University English Professor and Dad]

Oh, The Joys said...

I'd never heard of the term before today, but I was redshirted and I am grateful for it. But not for any of the reasons mentioned in the article or in the discussions below. I am a little amazed my reasons haven't been mentioned yet.

Being the oldest in my class never mattered much to me until puberty. Since boys generally hit puberty later than girls, there is already a maturity gap between genders, regardless of redshirting. Being held back as a boy meant I was on more equal footing with girls, both academically and socially. I did not have to worry that I might be the last kid in class to start showing signs of puberty, and this was a big relief, given how cruel boys can be to each other. I had an extra year to get comfortable with myself with respect to changing in the locker room, kissing girls, dating, drinking, smoking, and drugs. I was one of the first in my class to get a driver's license, which my Mom liked because she trusted me driving myself a whole lot more than she trusted my riding in someone else's car with someone else's teenager at the wheel. Most of my early girlfriends were younger than me, which meant I was under less pressure to explore new things faster than I wanted to. Other kids with my same birthday were a year ahead of me, getting exposed to sex and drugs a year earlier than me. Puberty and school were hell enough already without having to deal with these things earlier than I had to. I got an extra year to develop my sense of identity in the absence of these pressures, and I believe to this day I have greater self-confidence in everything I do as a result.

J

[Sent by J, Environmental Sustainability Expert and Dad]

Oh, The Joys said...

Jess:

It’s so nice to hear from you, friend. I would love to see pictures of your babies! I hope you are all well.

You know, I taught second grade for 12 years. I had students in the lowest of the socio-economic scale, up to the very affluent. Same kids. Different issues, but same kids. Second grade is interesting because it’s really the last year a child learns to read, whereas third grade is the beginning of the real stuff, where they read to learn.


I found that if a child did not have a good basis in kindergarten, IT MEANT NOTHING. I remember hearing all the time “childhood is a journey, not a race.” Picasso didn’t speak until he was 6. Einstein was a horrible elementary school student.


What meant was attitude. Did the parents have a high expectation for their child? Did they encourage them to be the best person they could be, to love God, honor their parents, and understand the value of hard work? It’s so hard for me, as a parent and former teacher, to hear folks try to figure out the best for their children, not with fundamentals, but with flash cards, soccer practice, or big birthday parties.


Each child is different. My Ain was born in July. He was the only one in his preschool class who couldn’t write his name the January before kindergarten. I was encouraged to hold him back. But I also knew that he had a real love of learning, that with positive encouragement he would flourish and find his way. He is now a very successful student. Of course, the kid hears every day the history of his parents, his grandparents, the expectations we have for school. We talk about university education all the time- and even though my job robs me of the amount of time I’d like to have with my children, I know that my attitude towards school directly affects him, and my presence is absolutely a deciding factor in his success.

Which brings me back to second grade and beyond. Isn’t that the whole point of keeping a child back? To make them more successful later? Now, I would never profess to be an expert in ANYTHING in this whole wide world. I can only speak from my personal experience, and my limited perspective. But I must say, that in my teaching years, whenever we had a child struggling in school, or a child with low performance, it was invariably due to their self confidence. And where do they gain that confidence? At home. School helps- like a kind teacher, a nurturing classroom, innovative teaching, independent learning- all of that. BUT NOTHING has the impact of the parents. Ever.

So. Keep a child back or not? I think that depends on the personality of the child. My C is going into kindergarten this Monday. She is also a July baby, and she’ll be one of the youngest in her class. She is very ready- she can’t stop talking about school. I feel confident sending her because I see her showing signs of interest in letters, she loves to draw, but most of all, she loves being around other children together. She’s shy, but very social. I already see that math is going to be a struggle, which is so different from her brother. I can’t imagine holding her back- she needs to start her independent academic journey. She’s longing for it.

As you can see, I feel very strongly about all of this. But let me just give one more point that I think about ALL the time. We, the parents of young children in the USA, are so animate about competition in the early years, and making sure our children have all they can to be ahead. But that interest drops off around, oh, 9th grade. Why do I say this? Here I am, the mother of 4. My oldest just graduated from high school, my youngest is 6 months. I have a teenager, a child, a just-finished toddler, and an infant. I have it all. I thank God for these 4 every day, because they are my total wealth. There is nothing I care more about in this world than those 4 children upstairs. And the moment those children became part of my life, my existence changed forever.

I don’t believe that my child turns 18, and that’s it. I believe I am their partner, their confidant, and their financial security forever, until I die. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want independent, thriving human beings leaving my home, with hopefully graduate school educations and the tools in their hands to be more economically viable and stronger than I am today. I pray they all go off one day, live their adventures, travel, find the loves of their lives, and have children of their own.

If my child can read before kindergarten, if she can count to 100, if she can tell me all of the presidents before she’s six, is that a recipe for guaranteed success? HELL NO. If she knows all of that stuff, that means she can raise her hand more times than another child. Fabulous. Or even let’s say this- if she goes to the right school, or is taught by that latest innovative math program, or reads Catcher in the Rye by 3rd grade, is she on her way to becoming president? I still say probably not. Again, I say the basics: do they obey their parents? Do they respect their teachers? Do they believe in doing their best always?

I have friends that were terrible in school, and today they are millionaires. I have friends who did really well in school, and today they don’t “work”, and raise their children. I have friends that went to the best private schools money could buy, and ended up living off of their trust funds. I have a brother who was pretty unmotivated in school, and today is a rocket scientist heading his own tech company.

The whole point here is what can we as parents do to best suit our children. I don’t think we can create a better society of students by “tricking” the system and holding a child back. Instead, we should be encouraging our children to take school as seriously as they can and put academics and school life as their priority, keep supporting their educational choices as they grow, and gently push them to develop their talents and become strong adults. We should be encouraging our children to go for the highest achievements they can, to get PhDs, to invent, to travel, to take care of those in need, to read, to experience other languages and cultures, and to count the many blessings we have to be living in such affluence.

And that’s all I have to say about that.



Love you, man.

s

[Sent by S, Former teacher, Jewelry Designer and Mom]

Oh, The Joys said...

as for community input, if nothing external forces the issue, i think it is a school by school, kid by kid decision. and yes, we are privledged to mull over such decisions.

[Sent by J, Stay at home Mom]

Oh, The Joys said...

Yes, I've heard a lot about it. I think you really need to take a look at your child and see what would be best for him/her and their personality/needs and don't worry about trying to have them be a behemouth on the sports fields or the first one to spell 'cat'. Kids will catch up and self-regulate to keep themselves where they need to be. For example - how many kids do you know took a year off between high school and college or after college? It's hard though - if everyone is doing it will my kid be at a disadvantage if I don't. .. . There seem to be a lot of crazy parents out there who will go to all lenghts to have their kids be/feel superior. I think we're going to see a lot of psychological backlash about this when this generation grows up. Interestingly, I have a friend whose parents probably would have done this had she been born now, but instead lied to the school (and her) about her birthday so she could get into school early and start achieving. She didn't find out until college when her real birthday was. Thus the pendelum swings . . .

So my two cents are to stay true to your little ones and parent for them - not the rest of the society. From what I know of The Mayor he could hold his own with five year olds right now, so I wouldn't worry about red-shirting him.

[Sent by M, Colleague and Mom]

WILLIAM said...

My father always thought that the older the kid in the class the more advantage the kid would have in sports and physical stuff but not so much when it came to academics due to the "teaching to the lowest common denominator" thing. But he never would tell anyone to red shirt their kids.

I was one of the youngest in my class and there were some social issues involved with that. IE getting my Driver license later than most, or not being able to get into R rated movies when my friends could (Not that movie theaters even check anymore)As I got odlder it affected being able to drink beer with my peers. Etc. Etc.

The social issure of being a redshirt. Other kids will make fun of you for being older and "dumb".

"Hah HA. Rooster got held back a year. and she smells like old lady farts."

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Mary Alice said...

The only time I have encountered “redshirting” was when we were stationed in Georgia, where often boys were held back so that they could be at a physical advantage when it came time for High School football. Football being next to God and all ya know…..

Personally, I believe this should be looked at only on a case by case basis. My daughter, for instance, started school when we were stationed in Hawaii. There you had to be 5 by Dec 31st to enter Kindergarten. School started in August and Little Red didn’t turn five until mid December. I weighed that carefully. She was so young AND I knew that we would not always be stationed in Hawaii, eventually we would be stationed in areas that had the five by Sept 1st rule….and therefore Little Red would always be nearly a full year younger than her classmates. But she was ready. She was, and is, an exceptionally bright student. She was fully ready to tackle the subject matter. Had I held her back another year, she would not have been challenged and might have gotten into trouble out of sheer boredom.

You have to look both at the beginning of school and the ending. How easy will it be for an 18 year old to still be slogging away at their senior year of high school when others have moved on to a more adult life, going to college, working, or serving in the military? At some point you are ready to be “grown up” and it may be harder for an older child to stomach still being in high school…could this practice actually increase drop out rates? I guess we’ll find out a few years down the road when the results of the social experiment reach 18.

Woman with kids said...

Boy 1's birthday was only a few away from the cut off too, but his school offered a two year kindergarten program. That way he was still in school, but got the extra time too.

Sorry, that probably doesn't help you at all. You know the kids the best; do they seem ready? Want to go? Already reading the dictionary?

Lawyer Mama said...

We have the same issues, Jess. Hollis's birthday is September 16th and the cut-off is September 30th. We've decided to start him in preschool this fall because he's totally ready and he's potty trained. Plus, he's super excited about it. Whether or not he starts kindergarten at 5 or 6 will depend on him, how he's progressing socially and academically, and what his teachers think. He's in a preschool that has pre-K and K, so it won't be a big deal whatever we decided. He'll just have an extra year of pre-school.

Some kids are ready early. I have an October birthday. I started school when I was 4. Academically, it was the best choice for me. Socially, I did fine. I'll admit it was a bit hard in Junior High when I was a full year younger than some of my classmates, but by high school it all evened out socially & no one knew the difference.

Some kids, however, simply aren't ready for school. This seems to happen more often in boys than in girls. If your child isn't ready academically or socially, then I don't see a problem with holding them back. I can't see doing it to gain an edge though. That seems counterintuitive to me, as if you would be holding them back academically instead of pushing them to excel.

As for sports, wow, that never even ocurred to me. People do that? Wow.

And now I'm going to go actually read the article.

P.S. What's up with the comments? Have you suddenly developed multiple personalities? LOL!

Lawyer Mama said...

Now that I've more carefully read what you've written, I understand the comments. Doh.

acumamakiki said...

I've lived it - it's a HOT topic with a lot of my friends who have children that are close to or slightly after, the cut-off. Preschools around here don't have cut-offs so a lot of my friends have pushed to get their children (mostly girls) ahead, although it mostly doesn't work because you have to test your kid, etc. and it turns into a big headache.

On the other side, I've had friends with boys that hold their sons back and this is with birthdays well within the range of the cut-off but still slightly late in the school year (July or August birthdays). In one case only (and I know 5 people) was it warranted. The boy is immature for his age and has slight sensory issues so it's better for him to be slightly older than his peers.

Personally, I was a young kid for my grade. My birthday is mid-September and I was still 17 when I graduated high school, the only downside to that (for me, not my parents) was that I couldn't write my own notes to excuse myself from school! I remember being in kindegarten and not able to tie my shoes. But there's velcro now, so who cares! (kidding of course.) And I could read in kindegarten so for me, I was probably just where I should have been.

I don't think there's any right answer here, I think it really depends on the child and I'm not convinced that keeping your child back gives them any advantage. I have to agree with Mary Alice that there's something to be said for an older kid still slogging through high school over 18. At that point I'd think they'd be more than ready for college, especially when some of their friends who are 18 are already there.

This sucks for parents though. I think it's a hard decision and one that you question a lot that first year.

kristen said...

I know this issue all too well. I posted about it here

http://fromherethereandback.blogspot.com/2007/06/questions-yes.html

and will simply say that for parents of kids with special needs, it's even more complex. My son has developmental delays across the board, but to continue his district sanctioned therapy, he had to start kindergarten on schedule, the September before his fifth birthday. His birthday is right before the cut-off, so he's young, delayed and thrown in with kids who are nearly a whole year older--chronologically and socially.

Add to that the kids who redshirt and we've got a nearly two year gap. It's a tough one...but part of me feels that if it's an option, it should be extended to parents of kids with special needs. Instead, we are told that we'll jeopardize or lose our services if we hold our kids back.

moosh in indy. said...

I've never heard of this, and for me it says more about the parents than it does about the hope that the child will be successful. I have a nephew who was held back when he couldn't hack it in first grade, he was held back. It was known that he would have problems though, so in his case "redshirting" may have done him good, he wouldn't have had to watch all his friends move on and stay behind. But just for the sake of "being the best?"
Parenting has more to do with a child's success than their age at graduation.

Taste Like Crazy said...

I wrote about it here:

http://tastelikecrazy.com/2007/07/30/redshirting/

Cat, Galloping said...

Great topic, one I've spent a good amount of time thinking about, ever since I got pregnant! (Okay, maybe since high school when I thought it would have been better to be one of the first to get my driver's license!)

Here's the thing that stuck with me about that article: that kids with parents who are involved enough/care enough to even *think* about these issues are probably going to do fine either way.

Gatito's birthday is in November and our deadline in December 31, so he'll be among the youngest. I won't lie-- I'm hoping the district follows through on a proposal to move the deadline to September 1 so that he'd be one of the oldest!

If that doesn't happen, I'm going to have to judge based on who he is and what he's ready for when the time comes. If I can judge by his not-yet-two-year-old self, he has always (since he was a newborn), had an unusual ability to focus for long periods of time. And he's also very tall for his age. And He doesn't stand much of a chance of being good at sports regardless, given genes and environment. So if I could guess three years out, I'm guessing he'll go to kindergarten when he's almost 5, instead of almost 6. And he'll be the last to get his driver's license and the last to be able to drink legally.

Oh, The Joys said...

Haven't read the article yet but I think I read some version of it a few months ago.

In my personal experience, my parents held my brother back for a second year of kindergarten. My dad felt strongly that he not be the youngest in his class (which he would have been with a December bday), so instead he was the oldest. In the end, it didn't help him academically - he was a B/C student all throughout, but I think it did help him socially. I think for him, it was a good thing.

what happens if everyone does it?....hmmm...
j

[Sent by J, Stay at home Mom]

Jennifer said...

Oh, I've heard of it. It's one of my hot button topics, actually, when it comes to parenting.

Redshirting because parents and teachers have strong indications that a child is truly not academically or, in some cases, socially, ready is one thing.

But redshirting so a child has an advantage in sports or to ensure they will be the biggest/strongest/"smartest" in their class? That is something else, and it is everything I hate in a certain style of parenting. That's a loud-mouthed bully, pushing their way to the front of the line.

And after "everyone" starts redshirting, will there be people waiting until a kid is 7 to start school? *eye roll*.

I think what might bother me the most (aside from having a father TELL me he held his child back "So he will be bigger for football") is that when parents attempt to put their child at an advantage, they are actively trying to *disadvantage* other kids. And that is not only wrong, but sad, imo.

Then, of course, I'm a "it takes a village" person living in a "every man for himself" world, so there are lots of things that happen every day that I think are wrong and sad. *sigh*

Annie said...

I think this is a call parents have to make on a kid by kid basis, if you are considering holding a child back. We are the best advocates for our kids, and as the closest to them, the best placed to ascertain if they are ready, or not - and by ready I mean academically, emotionally, psychologically.

I can give you the benefit of my European experience though, and tell you that I'm shocked that some kids are almost 6 years old before they are required to be in 'formal' education here in the States.

I was four years and four months old when I started school. My kids both have October birthdays, and will be at the older end of their class. I cannot imagine holding Miss E back - by the time she's ready for Kindergarten, she'll be more than ready I imagine (some days I think she's ready now!)

And, what is it that some parents are holding their kids back for? So that they're older than the other kids in the class? That they will be developmentally ahead of younger kids in the class and therefore appear 'smarter'? Is this a competitive thing?

I'm very good at coming up with more questions than answers in most situation - but this one has me puzzled at times.

Oh, The Joys said...

that's quite an article! Very interesting.....I have a lot I could say to you about the whole topic, but just off the top of my head- I know your kids well enough to know they are going to be just fine entering Kindergarten age 5. Also, I suggest to you as an unsure parent to schedule a time to observe a K class (you'r e welcome to come to mine) sometime closer to the time before The Mayor starts kindergarten. It will help you get a sense about what goes on and what is expected. I'd be happy to talk to you more about the topic sometime as well! Thanks for the article....I'm going to pass it on to our curriculum support person. B

[Sent by B, Kindergarten Teacher at the school where The Mayor will go and Mom]

slouching mom said...

I agree with the commenter who wrote that "redshirting" (and the term irritates me, because it implies that it is a practice with a universal motive) should be undertaken on a case-by-case basis (if, for example, there is a red (immaturity) flag (be it social/emotional or cognitive) raised by a pre-K teacher.

I would expect any principal worth his or her salt not to allow the practice if it's clear it's becoming trendy.

And unethical if it's done to give a child a leg up? You bet.

~JJ! said...

I have never heard of the term redshirting.

I do know that Fa misses the cutoff date by 19 days and she will in fact be older than most of her classmates due to that.

She will be 5 years and 9 months when she starts kindergarten...but if I pushed her through (fought the system) to get her in earlier, she'd be almost a year younger...who the hell knows which time is right...

I know my kid and I know she will do great no matter what. What's the rush? They'll be in school for a long time...What's wrong with just playing and having fun as a kid to start off?

Mrs. Chicken said...

Since my child isn't yet kindergarten age, I can only speak to how I imagine I will behave about this.

I can only imagine holding a child back if they have academic and/or social/emotional issues. To do so to make it more advantageous puts all the students at a disadvantage.

I had some angst over preschool and should I be sending Poo to a school that focuses on academics and has a uniform and all that bullroar. But in the end, we chose a school we could afford and where we felt she could be comfortable and flourish at her own pace.

Kids who enter K late may still wind up going through a wildly rebellious phase when they are in high school and getting crappy grades, etc.

You never know. I say go with what your kids are telling you with their cues.

And these competitive parents breed more competitive adults, and this sends the message that it's OK to subvert the rules for your own gain.

Is that the message we want to send our kids? That being sneaky gives you a leg up?

Gwen said...

New to commenting but not to the blog.

This, to me, seems like one of those topics that the media presents in such a way that it creates a mythical set of parents whose priorities are all out of wack, when in reality, these parents are just like all your commenters: they love their children and want to do what's best for them.

What concerns me most, as an educator and a citizen of the world, is that the ability to hold a child back is a privilege of economic status, and just one more way that poverty is perpetuated through the pressures of external forces.

kgirl said...

I think that for every article you find espousing the importance of waiting, you will find another espousing the importance of starting early.

Lots of alternative schools are moving back to the single classroom model because they believe that the younger benefit by learning from the older, and the older benefit by teaching the younger.

It's like everything in parenting, isn't it? Vaccines, co-sleeping, socializing, wah/sah - the thing is, you know your kids best, and you'll know what works best for them.

And as far as your blog goals? Mission accomplished.

Magpie said...

I'm in the total bullshit category. I was born 3 days before the cut-off, so I was always the youngest - big deal.

My kid will be young - she's a month and a half before the cut-off - but I am not worried for a moment.

And then the problem gets compounded because the states don't all use the same cut-off, so a kid born December in NY would be going to kindergarten, but not if they were in some other state. So if you move...

Rachel said...

I think the real problem is that kindergarten is too academic these days. Kindergarteners still need time for free play, but because of No Child Left Behind, there is a push to get them sitting in chairs and filling out worksheets earlier and earlier.

I went to kindergarten very early. (I didn't turn five until December of my kindergarten year.) I was a bit of a loner in the beginning, but over time I adjusted. And I loved being a seventeen-year-old college freshman!

Ruth Dynamite said...

It's an epidemic, Jess. "Everybody's doing it." (Not me, though. My kids are both Feb. babies.)

Still, it's ridiculous. Too many kids will be shaving their mustaches in fourth grade. Who wants to be that advanced?

jakelliesmom said...

I wrote about it, too:

http://jakelliesmom.blogspot.com/
2007/02/swimming-in-sea-of-decisions.html

The way it's going now, Jake will be among the youngest in his class and Ellie will be among the oldest. I'm still torn about Ellie because she is a very-close-to-the-cutoff kid (who has done everything in life early). I think by the time she's five we'll be better able to make the decision and will likely move her ahead (she's the oldest in her preschool class now; if she were to go in public school, she'd make the cutoff, but at our private school, she is after).

My birthday was a few days after the cutoff, so I was one of the older kids. I drove early, turned legal early (to vote, you know), etc. I was friends with a lot of kids the grade ahead (just in high school), and as a competitive teen, wished I had been pushed ahead to do more, sooner. But in those days, I think more parents obeyed the rules and didn't push to have exceptions made.

I think a lot of educators will also suggest that a lot of social and developmental issues kids have in preschool that make some seem ready for K and some not will resolve (or at least be better informed) by 3rd grade, regardless. Which says to me, you have to know your kid, and you have to go with your best parental instincts.

In my mind, someone will always be the youngest, someone will always be the oldest. Unless there was a truly compelling reason, I would not choose to redshirt.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I think it is messed up.

Why screw with your kids like that?

Amy Linder said...

I was JUST talking to a friend about this issue myself! Sweetie is only 4, not turning 5 until December. So, according to cut off dates, she can't enter the school system until next fall. But right now she's at a day care center that does offer kindergarten. I wonder if she could move up to that level there for a year instead of repeating the 4-year old Pre-K level again?? Or does the cut off law apply there as well? She's smart, social, and generally well behaved. I really think she could handle it.

Last fall when she was still 3, the day care director decided to move her up to the 4 year old group early because she was ready for it. But now, as it stands, she's just going to repeat the 4 year old year again until she goes to our town's public pre-school in the fall of 2008. But is that the best decision for her? I just don't know.

My mom has always thought that being one of the oldest in your grade is better than being the younger one. She sent one of my brothers to kindergarten when he was still 3 (days away from turning 4 on Sept. 25). And she's always wondered how his life would have been different/better if she'd held him back another year(not that I personally think he now has a bad life or anything...).

ANYWAY - there's A LOT to consider - maturity level, convenience, cost, cut off rules, etc., etc., etc... I obviously don't have any answers for you, but I'm right there with you in trying to sort it all out.

Good luck! And listen to your gut.

Jen said...

We held our son back a year because he has Asperger. We knew that he was (and is) very, very bright for his age and wouldn't have a problem with the acadmeic side of things but that he has some delays in social skills and emotional maturity that would make things rough for him. In our situation, I was glad we decided to hold him back. We felt that the extra year we gave him to catch up was a huge help for him.

Veronica Mitchell said...

My sister says this is a popular thing to do with boys in the Dallas area, partly because boys develop socially more slowly and partly so they'll be bigger for football.

I am a little skeptical about the significance fo this. Kids will learn at their own pace no matter what age they start school. Portraying education as some sort of race with winners and losers demeans what education is really supposed to be: about learning all we can, not about beating somebody else. Make the best decision for your kids without worrying about their classmates.

For what it's worth, my brother skipped fourth grade and I left high school two years early, and finishing primary education at a younger age only helped us.

SciFi Dad said...

If you really want your kid to succeed, why not start kindergarten at age seven or eight? (It's the same logic that they're applying.)

The differential is evened out by the time they finish first grade, usually. I say let your kid go to school when they are supposed to.

Nancy said...

I support the idea of letting a kid get a late start on entering school of he/she is immature or has other developmental issues. I trust that kind of decision would be made by parents in concert with academic or medical community experts.

But redshirting to give the child an academic or other advantage seems wrong. And not just for the smaller, on-age kids that will be up against the redshirted kid in sports and Debate Club. What if your child gets bored academically? Seems like it could do them a disservice too.

Also, in life, YOU WILL NOT ALWAYS BE THE BEST. You will not always have the luxury to take a year off to build strength and knowledge and then enter the world with that much more preparation.

Great, thought-provoking article, Jess.

deb said...

Never heard of it, the redshirting thing. My middle daughter has a late birthday but we just put her in anyway, she was/is a smart cookie and she's never had any problems that way. Of course, both of my kids are high school dropouts, technically just my son but my daughter is working hard on it. Probably the only kid of mine to graduate high school will by the one who is severely handicapped.
Now my head hurts. Talk about farts some more, I miss farts, they don't make my head hurt:)

Miguelina. said...

Well, back in the day (when I was in school and people didn't know what they were doing) they would encourage you to skip grades if you were ready.

I was the youngest in my class by two years.

I came out OK, except for the having a blog part.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, I do have an opinion on this. Both of your cousins Allen and Cyndee had late birthdays. As you know Allen's birthday is one day before the Rooster and Cyndee's was September 9th our cut off is October 1st. They both were close to the youngest in their classes.When I registered Allen all those years ago the school tried to tell me to wait but my pediatrician told me to send him. Both of them excelled in school and would have been bored as hell if I had held them back. Allen was just lazy and choose not to do homework that is why he was not at the top of his class when he graduated high school. Your children are smart and way advanced for their age. Working with children I know this!I am sure at the age of 5 they will be more than ready to enter kindergarten. Love reading your blog everday and thanks for the pictures it makes us feel as though we are seeing you family grow even though there are so many miles between us. Love Aunt Candy

Katrina said...

I am on the BS side myself, unless there are developmental delays/ special needs.

My oldest 2 sons are June and July kids, some of the youngest in their classes. M is now a junior in HS, J is in 8th grade. Neither of them had any issues with the learning or social aspects of starting K as younger students. Both are in advanced classes, both are doing very well.

As for age and sports, J will outplay kids twice his size. He is a very gifted athlete and honestly, I don't know if being held back might not have dampened his competitive spirit. Being younger and smaller pushed him to succeed. (I totally think the sports angle to redshirting is the biggest pile of horse crap I've ever heard.)

My sister's b-day is today (happy birthday, Nin!) and she was also one of the youngest in her class...and valedictorian of HS and graduated magna cum laude from college. Doesn't seem to have hurt her at all.

My youngest two sons both have April b-days, so its not as much of an issue.

I have spoken with a friend about this many times. I think parents are so paranoid about "screwing up" their kids these days that they are screwing up their kids.

Do we really need to worry about younger kids statistically doing worse on SAT's before they even start kindergarten? (ahhh statistics...they're never wrong or manipulated are they?) Shouldn't we focus more on teaching our kids to be good citizens and people instead of being "the best?" There can only be one number one so what happens when little Johnny finds out he isn't it? Are those redshirting their kids for strictly supposed academic/sports advantage preparing the kids for that? I think not.

Busy Mom said...

We have young ones, too.

I sport a huge soapbox about it, which I will spare you, and, your readers here.

But, in a different perspective, my 8th grader's class will have 8 kids with driver's licenses this year.

Contemplate that for a minute.

Oh, and, there's no reason to hold them back simply (read: only reason)because they might be the youngest.

Someone will always be the youngest. I was that kid, it was no big deal.

E-mail me if you still have questions.

Absolutely Bananas said...

Thanks for posting about this and for sharing your friends' comments. That article has nagged at the back of my mind since I read it. Something just didn't quite sit right about it, but I felt like you did... like I needed to honestly consider redshirting as an option to make sure I was doing the right thing by CJ.

I LOVE what Jennifer said... I think she hit it spot on-
"But redshirting so a child has an advantage in sports or to ensure they will be the biggest/strongest/"smartest" in their class? That is something else, and it is everything I hate in a certain style of parenting. That's a loud-mouthed bully, pushing their way to the front of the line."

Another angle to consider is a more recent article (I believe also in the NY Times) that says that schools are completely missing the boat for the smartest kids. So if your kids are intelligent AND you red shirt, I think there's a very real risk that you'll end up with kids who are ahead of most of their class; hence bored; hence getting into trouble and not operating at their potential.

Ultimately I'm with 95% of your commenters that you as a parent know where your child is at and what they're ready for (You DO! don't let anyone tell you otherwise!). Go with your instincts and BE CONFIDENT!

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

Wow - did you know this was such a hot button?! I have not as of yet, posted about this but have very strong opinions. This is a huge epidemic where I live (2 hours from NYC) in PA. I didn't read all the comments carefully (please, I do have to watch my children, at least a little bit). I imagine most of what there is to say has been said. My extra (I hope) 2 cents:

- my son was a serious behavior problem in Pre-K and was labeled as a good candidate for a "grow year". But, after lots of evaluations, finding out he has sensory issues, and consulting with a psychologist, we sent him to Kindergarten on time (he is 4 1/2 months from the cut off). Turns out it was just what he needed - the structure, the challenge, the real school. He is excelling in all areas and is the youngest boy in his class.

- when I hear people say that boys mature slower than girls and may not be ready for school, I flip out. So, we exclude 50% of the kids?!? If school is too hard for 1/2 of the kids then something is wrong with the curriculum, or the way it is being taught. I think school needs to be more interactive, include multi-sensory experiences, be active enough for all kids.

More than 2 cents? Sorry - I know, that's what I have my own blog for, right?

Matt Frye said...

it's much more important to teach your children to be good people and to have self-esteem in things that matter, than to teach them to be cunning little careerists.

Katie said...

As a teacher, I think it is up to what you think your child is ready for, and that is something you may not know until the year before. By ready I mean socially, academically, emotionally, and all around. You will know your children best and can probably work with their preschool/daycare teachers to decide what is best for your child.

I was an August baby and always the youngest in my class, and I was very ready to go to school. They later tried to move me up a grade higher even.

My son is an early Sept baby, just after the deadline here, and so I think will send him on schedule as he will be the oldest in his class anyhow. But if I feel that he is not ready, then we'll wait.

I think the important thing to keep in mind is that it should be based on what's best for your child, NOT based on making him better than the other children.

jchevais said...

Where I live, kids start school at age 3. Nursery school, yeah, and not obligatory, but sort of. France is crazy about producing intellectuals.

Redshirting sounds like a ridiculous tried and true method for giving a child an avantage over his/her classmates...

I feel sorry for the kids who have parents who are in favor of this. They'll be stuck in careers that they don't fancy, that's for sure.

EE said...

My 3 kids all have summer birthdays. My middle daughter was born on July 18th, and the school cut-off is July31st. We chose to hold her back because 1. she was emotionally not ready (still clingy/immature) 2. it would have put her only 1 year behind her sister 3. our other children have Aug/Sept birthdays and were oldest in class.
Had our first child had this borderline birthday, we probably would have sent her "on time".
Looking back, it was the best decision for our child, and I would do it all over again.
I think you need to look at the needs of each child individually and make your decision accordingly.

ALM said...

Siiigghhhh... this is all so tough - but you know what? I think we all tend to really just over think stuff.

And... I had a whole reply written but read what M wrote - [Sent by M, University English Professor and Dad] and couldn't have said it better myself. All of it. Perfect.

Ashley said...

5 year olds talk and they have friends. All of the 5 year olds I know would ask the question, "why am I being held back? Why am I not going to school with my friends?"

At which point, the parents in the article would have to (1) lie or (2) tell the truth and place a LOT of pressure on their child. You are being held back so that you will be a SUPER STAR, little Johnny. How To Create A Complex 101.

The comments above are fabulous. Teach you child to have a love for learning and an enthusiasm for new adventures/journies. Everything else is just details.

Loralee Choate said...

I have a different story than your first commenter. My parents skipped me ahead in the third grade.Which made me the youngest. I hated it and struggled thereafter. I do not recommend skipping grades, so if you are going to make this decision, Kindergarten is the best time.

My first son was born 4 days before the cut off day and I AGONIZED. I sent him. MISTAKE. I have regretted it and regretted it.

My second son? He would have been fine, dandy and OK to start. He has a July birthday and I started him on time and it has been perfect.

Bottom line? I honestly think it depends on the kid. Start them in preschool. If they thrive and are doing well, go ahead. If not, they should be kept back.

Mamma said...

I've discussed this with many of my friends because of my eldest son's late birthday.

At the time, I didn't think about the possibility of waiting a year. I tend to be a rule follower and he turned five so it was time to send him.

Looking back, I would have held him back. He is not as socially mature as the other kids in his class, he is not as ready for some of the learning concepts as his classmates.

A friend with twins (boy/girl) in his class has experienced the same with her son, but felt she couldn't hold him back because his twin sister was ready.

I do think it benefits boys.

Honestly, I think I notice the difference in the between the late birthday boys and the early birthday boys more now in sixth grade than I did back in Kindergarten. At this point though, I'm not going to hold him back. I would have done it differently though if I were to do it again.

That said. I think every kid is different. I think it is something parents should consider based on their own children.

I am disturbed by the idea that this practice is increasing the gap between the have's and have not's. I definitely understand desire to be good members of the community. Then again, your job first is as their parents right?

Great conversation.

Jenifer said...

I have not read through all the comments...

I have heard of this, but it is not such a common practice here in Canada other than for developmental reasons (as opposed to the advantage reasons) and I can relate to the struggle.

Our cut off is December 31 for school, so for Junior Kindergarten the child must turn 4 by that date. Papoosie Girl is a late (really really late) December baby so she is and has been the absolute youngest.

I was very concerned about the socialization aspect. At 3 and a half she could handle the basics of changing her shoes and putting on her own coat and going to the bathroom herself. Our JK class is from 8:30am-11am every day so the timing she could also handle. (Some cities here do JK as all day 2-3 days a week.)

She could write her name and follow all the commands in class. What you cannot predict though is the social aspect, she was a full year younger than many classmates, kids that had moved on to "bigger" kid stuff.

She was completely fine and flourished, she was reading right after her 4th birthday. Was it all necessary though? Could she have benefited from another year at home to even up the playing field a bit, to not make her the absolute youngest.

I have no huge insights as she is doing just fine so I have no proof holding a child back is the answer. I think it depends on the individual child always, but I am uncomfortable with the idea of creating an advantage.

It is hard when she turned 6 last December and several friends turned 7 in early January. She wanted to know why she had to wait so long to be 7.

bubandpie said...

I figure I'll postpone this decision for at least a year, possibly two. This year, Bub's going to nursery school instead of JK. Next year, I'll decide whether to place him in JK or SK - or, if it's a joint JK/SK class, we'll decide the following year whether he's ready for Grade 1. A lot can change between now and then. But I'm with most of your commenters - I'll hold him back only if I think he can't handle the social/emotional demands of the classroom.

Kevin said...

Our daughter is in 6th grade now. We wondered what to do with our daughter when she was 4 years old. She's as smart as a whip. She was supposed to go for 2 years of preschool before going to Kindergarten, but when we found out that the preschool teacher had our daughter read the story to the class because the teacher had a sore throat, we figured we should send her early.

Let me tell you, I have never seen such resistance to an idea. Everyone, from the preschool teacher, to the directory, to the future kindergarten teacher, to the principal of the real school, was like, "Are you SURE you want to do this?" No one would listen to us. Even the people in charge of testing were hesitant to even allow her to test, as they thought it would be a waste of time.

But she took the test, and all of her scores indicated that, at 4 years old, she could go directly to 1st grade if we so chose.

Of course, we didn't so choose. We just wanted her in Kindergarten. Since starting school, she's consistently at the top of her class. She's the one everyone calls for questions regarding homework.

When she was in Kindergarten, she qualified for the advanced reading program...typically reserved for 1st grade and above. To date, she is the only person in the school district to have ever qualified for the program in Kindergarten.

There are no "rules" when it comes to deciding when to send the kid. You have to know your kid. Articles like that are nice and all, and I'm sure there is some insight, but they should never be used as standard.

Above Average Joe said...

I have the exact same article bookmarked also. And I still hevent read it either. I now have to read it. The Champ would've been the youngest so we decided to "redshirt" him last year. But we also took into consideration that he is going to be smaller than most kids, (thanks to me), and probably wont sit still as much as others, (also, thanks to me). It also keep him one grade closer to Peanut.

Sugared Harpy said...

I call bullshit as well.

Daniel's birthday is in Sept., making him often the oldest kid in his class.

But he's also often the most socially immature. Because that's just HIM. And hey, that also affects his academic performance.

His brother is one of the youngest and is always in the top 1% of his class. One percent.

Each child is different. Think of your classmates in any grade, age wasn't the only factor on who was getting good grades, socially adept, confident, good in P.E., etc.

I'm calling this another way to scare parents, and specifically moms. And it's yes, another way to upset parents who can't afford to do this if they wanted. It's like strike #782354 against what you can or can't provide.

There are reasons to hold back a year (see comment #2) that I believe affect a child. But that's more rare. Besides, what happens when all these older kids are hitting puberty earlier than their counterparts?

CamiKaos said...

Since my daughter's birthday is in March it doesn't feel like such an issue for me personally. She will be 5 1/2 years when she starts Kindergarten and that seems like a stable place for her to be, so yeah, not much thought from me... but I know 2 kids, one which has already stayed back a year and will be starting school with K next month and one that is about to start a 3rd year of preschool.

I don't think it was some random choice with these two. The one that is starting with K this year seems very ready for school now but when I met him a year ago he was ready for preschool. The 2nd little boy who is about to be held back a year I have known since he was 2 and he, I think, will benefit greatly from starting a year later.

I think as a parent you are the only one who can know if your child is ready to start school. Being responsible for the community AND doing what is best for your child can be the same thing.

I do not think that we should hold what some of us have over others, however when we have worked hard to do all that we possibly can for our families we should not stop so just because not everyone has exactly the same thing. Some flowers bloom from adversity, some from careful nurturing.

We should go ahead and do what our children need (maybe for some kids that is starting school later) and also do the best that we can to help other children through volunteering, donating and teaching our children to be good people.

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

I think it totally depends on the family situation and the kid.

Some kids need the extra time to be ready, some don't. My son was sooo ready for kindergarten. He was emotionally, physically and mentally ready. He needed to go. And I needed him to go!

He had kids in his class that had been "held back" so started Kinder at 6, while others had birthdays the day of/before the cut off so and started kinder at 4. I don't know that it hindered the class at all.

I do know some people that have held their kids back, some were happy with the decision, some not so much. Most often, I find the parents aren't willing to "let go" and want to hold on one more year.

There is a private school -- very posh one in my neck of ATL -- that routinely holds kids back from pre-K to Kinder to get their test scores up and thus raise their academic standing and desireability. Totally bogus if you ask me.

Jenn said...

I think it's insane and that Mommy and Daddy should try looking up "Get a Life" on the internets.

Not that I'm opinionated or anything.

BOSSY said...

So wait - you're friends with your husbands ex? Bossy always knew you were a higher life form.

PT-LawMom said...

I blogged on this back when the article first came out and received some thoughtful comments:
http://ptlawmom.com/2007/06/03/when-should-a-child-start-kindergarten/

What worries me is that I live in a big football state. Some parents are holding their kids back not due to academics, but so that they will be HUGE and can vie for sports scholarships. This practice just kills me!! It's one thing to give a child another year to mature, but quite another to manipulate the system this way. Grrr.

My son is a late summer baby but I will not be holding it back. I don't know about everyone else, but I can't afford another year of daycare!!! ;)

PT-LawMom said...

My son's not an "it". LOL - of course I meant I won't be holding HIM back. :)

liv said...

Okay, so at comment 60-something, I'm not sure I have much to add, but I will say that my kids are late September and I'm grateful that the state is making the decision for me. They will always be among the oldest in their classes, and if there is an advantage to be had, they will (I guess) see it. I don't know about this practice as how it pertains to competitive parenting, but I think holding kids back can be beneficial in a lot of cases.

Momish said...

Very interesting, I never knew any of this stuff went on (oy, my poor kid!).

I remember when teachers wanted to put me ahead in first grade. They kept saying to take advantage of the small difference of the academic curriculum at this age to get me ahead. My parents refused to do it. They were so worried about my emotional development and didn't want me to spend the next 11 years of my life struggling and feeling like a failure, always barely keeping up (lots of faith in my abilities, huh?).

Anyway, I have to agree with my parents and with most of what the article said regarding the self esteem and not always being the last one to catch up. That has got to hurt a kid.

I fully agree that K has just gotten way out of hand, teaching these poor kids to learn so much that they are not ready for at that age. That alone would tip me towards holding my daughter back. They need to enjoy their early childhood with play and socialization.

I am sure you will make the right decision. Each kid is different, regardless of their age.

Heather said...

We redshirted Payton. His birthday was the cut off date but we didn't send him. He was not ready to go.

That was the best decision for *Payton*. We knew him and knew the standards for kindergarten. While he was more than smart enough, it was the other non-academic requirements we knew would be a problem.

So we made the best decision for *our child*. I don't give a fart what some article or expert says about the pros and cons of redshirting. It should be an individual decision based on each child.

If there have been any benefits for Payton by holding him back that gives him an advantage over the other kids, I'd sure as h*ll like for the experts to be with us right now as we're going back to school and point them out to me. It might give me the hope I need.

Stupid experts.

Diane said...

Redshirting, huh? I've never heard of it. Why not wait till the kids are 8 or 9? Then they'll really be ahead! I don't see the point in it. Seems they're purposely putting gaps between their children and the others, and kids already have a hard enough time trying to fit in. My kid will be a yound kindergartener too, but I guess we'll just have to deal with it and spend a little more time on that alphabet song!

Alpha DogMa said...

If I Redshirt my son will he be doomed to be the expendable member of an away mission? WWJ-LD (What would Jean-Luc Do?)

carrie said...

I feel embarrassed to admit that even though I've attended more pta meetings than a sane person should and I consider myself "in the know" regarding the boys school -- I've never heard of "redshirting" in this context.

And . . .wow.

I have kids on both sides of the spectrum. McRae's b-day is March, so he's a little younger than his classmates and there was never a ? as to when he would start kindergarten.

Wyatt is an October kid. And, being only 18m. behind his brother, he "appears" a little more advanced than his peers, plus he's a good foot taller than most of them. I remember considering having him tested early becuase I knew that he was capable of passing the tests. I researched, I talked to people, I lost sleep over it before eventually deciding to keep him home another year and allowing him to be a kid and then enter kindergarten with the kids his age, even if he'd turn 6 8 weeks into the school year. And although the cost of preschool could've paid the utility bill for a city block, I didn't look at it that way - probably because although we weren't upper class, we saw the value in his pre-K experience and we made it work for us, even though at times, it was tight.

I've never considered that we'd made the wrong decision, and even looking at it this way, I don't. We didn't purposely keep him home for academic gain, it was more for his emotional development, and keeping him with kids more on his level that way.

This is so tricky when your kids are as close to the cut-off as The Mayor is . . . and I think you need to look at your individual situation, your individual child and make the best choice for him. If he's ready, he's ready. If he isn't, you won't be doing the other kids a disservice just by keeping him back. And if he isn't challenged enough, he can always move up - which I think is a much better alternative than being held back!

Hope this helps, in some way . . .

and, thank you for opening my eyes a little more.

NotSoSage said...

Never heard of it. I have to say I find it strange. Mme L's a February baby, and won't start school until she's close to 5. I was worried about it for a while, as I was worried about her being so much older than her peers. At the same time, I skipped a grade as a kid and that, compounded with a shy disposition, made me a bit of a target for teasing.

I think, as is so often the case, there's more to the observed effect than just the "redshirting". The fact of the matter is, these kids are at a greater advantage, anyway.

As for your question, it's something I struggle with, too, the balance between doing right by my kids and sticking to my ideology. I couldn't afford private school, but even if I could, I won't send my children to one. That's a personal decision and sometimes I think it's wrong for me to put my ideals before the possibility that my child could receive a better education, but I could argue that my child's exposure to people from a diversity of family backgrounds, incomes, and experiences is a better education than any private school could give her. I may eat my words, but I doubt it.

(Oh, and love the blog goal. And the fart talk.)

imhelendt said...

I wish you could have heard me for the last five years bemoaning: I wish I had known then what I know now. Sigh. So let me try to impart to you my wisdom, learned the hard way as a parent, teacher and a coach.

In my experience, I have not found a disadvantage to holding your child out for an extra year. I wish to God that I had known what I know now when putting my oldest in Kindergarten. See, he is extraordinarily bright. Really bright. I'm not a parent who is bragging. This is a kid who at his first birthday party was walking around socializing and speaking in short phrases. He used the word preposterous correctly at 2 years 3 months old. He taught himself to read at 4. At 10, he is reading at college level. He is a very social child. He has all the qualities that people say are what you want in a kid starting kindergarten- even starting early for that matter. And yet, nearly every day I wish that I had waited another year.

Our school district at the time had a program I didn't know about called Young Fives. It was a half day program that was a step up from preschool with the structure of kindergarten but these kids actually do kindergarten after Young Fives. My son has a June birthday. The cut off in California is Dec 1 so he easily made the cut off. The cut off when we moved to Washington is Sept. 1. Making him one of the youngest in his class. And if it wasn't obviouis before, lemme tell ya. It's obvious now. Boys ESPECIALLY should pretty much catagorically start kindergarten later. Developementally, socially, etc., it's obvious that he should be with the kids a year younger. I can see it now clear as day. My other son, has a December birthday. And I knew from what I have learned that even if he hadn't missed the cut off, I would have held him out a year.

As a teacher, you can walk into a classroom (especially in the younger grades) and easily pick out the young kids. As a coach you can see that they don't have the developmental skills in sports (very important for boys again). My youngest is one of the older kids in his class. The difference between his kindergarten year and my oldest's (not even accounting for personality) was profound.

Quite simply they are better able to cope. They have better social skills. They are more ready for the rigors of learning. Developmentally they are more prepared to LEARN and able to write, recognize letters and learn the sounds- critical for reading. They have a less abstract- more concrete understanding of "how many" so critical for good math skills. Physically they can sit still- imperitive for constructive learning.

I see young kindergarten kids- boys and girls- just so not ready for what they need to do. Then these kids get pushed on to first grade and will continue to struggle. It's not fair to the kids and not fair to the teacher.

I wish I could just pour what I know into this comment. Because it is so important. Trust me when I say that you can NOT go wrong holding them out an extra year. I do think some kids are "ready" and able even when on the young side (really girls, not boys) but it's so much better when they are a little older. It's not that they can't do it when they are younger, it's just that it's so much easier for them when they are older. You are giving them such a valuable tool that becomes increasingly important every school year as they get older. Trust me.

I was one of those kids who needed to skip grades. I was an April- young already- birthday. Thankfully my parents were wise and refused to let me skip. I was bored, but when high school came around- oh boy- I cringe at thinking about me having to cope being a year and a half younger than all the other kids. Especially socially. Dealig with boys, drugs and drinking and even because I was an athlete. It doesn't matter how smart a kid is, they don't have the skills they need no matter how brilliant.

Good luck. And check to see if your school district offers a "young fives" program. You'd need to get on the waiting list now. :)

QT said...

Hey woman - as you know, I have no kids, but I do have an opinion anyway :)

If there is no developmental reason to do so, I call bullshit.

The terminology "redshirting" comes from NCAA eligibility rules.(An athlete is only eligible to play sports for four years, the "redshirt" allows him to practice with the team for a year and not use a year of eligibility)

That should tell you who the majority of the people are that are doing this - for non-developmental reasons.

It shows what a ridiculous emphasis is placed on sports in this country, when we continue to fall behind academically.

That being said, I think each parent can decide for their own child as far as social/developmental issues.

I turned 18 two weeks before I graduated from high school and I can say that I should have already been in college, I was so bored and had completed all my credits an entire quarter before graduation.

Mysit said...

My oldest is a late July bday kid. And his pre-K teacher, who used to teach kindergarten, came to us and asked us to consider waiting a year before he started, saying "he's just not ready."

So we debated and researched and agonized and ended up waiting a year. And he's done wonderfully academically, but not as great socially. But to be honest, he might not have done that well socially even if we hadn't waited - I think that's more of a personality thing with him.

He's 14 now, and only being in 8th instead of 9th this fall is chafing him a bit. He understands why we waited, but it bugs him. I think he'll get over that when he's the first in his class to get a driver's license though.

We're still wondering if we did the right thing. But don't we as parent do that on a daily basis anyway? It's a case by case thing. I never would have considered it if it had just been about sports or being a top dog academically. He does well in school, and is in the G&T program, but he's not the top dog by any means. He's bright. And for the most part, as happy as a 14 yr old can be. Which as other parents of teens can tell you, isn't always that chipper. Sheesh.

Just like others said - you know your kid. My youngest has a Sept. bday, past the cutoff, so he's one of the oldest in his class as well. He's doing fine. He'll pass his brother in size in another couple of years, and does fine in class, although he's pretty unorganized.

You know your kids. You know what's best. Go with your gut. (Your significantly *smaller* gut - I've got to try that points thing!)

Tabba said...

Um, yeah I've heard of it in terms of maturity and being too close to the cut-off - to give kids a chance to mature a bit. But not in terms of being able to "compete". What are kids now? Prize mares?
I mean, what the hell?

The best thing you can do is listen to your gut. To watch your kids and listen to what their teachers at their preschool or daycare say. The see a lot of kids. And they see a lot of your kids. And if you trust them enought to watch your kids, you should trust them enough to value their opinion.
I'm not saying that to YOU, I'm saying it to parents in general.

Connor is a month off of our cut-off date. And I weighed this out in my head. I listened to his teacher, I listened to his IEP team, I listened to my gut, and I listened to him (well, watched him - took note of his progress) and the best thing for him is to be in Kindergarten. He'll be young.
But whatever.

Sometimes it's best not to read these articles. They are meant to confuse rather than help.

Blog Antagonist said...

I have one child with a late birthday, and one with an early birthday. I don't see any difference in how they handled the entrance into kindergarten. However, both of mine attended an accelerated curriculum pre-school when they were four, so the the issue was largely a moot one since they were both academically ready and would stagnate in another year of preschool.

And honestly, I have not encountered any issues subsequently. I think the questions that arise are often due to emtotional and social maturity. That said, I'm not sure the solution is holding a child back, but rather, propelling them forward so they can develop those skills.

I've had my complaints about the Georgia public school system, but one that I will say is that the lower grades are very conscientious in seeing that every child's needs are addressed. Because there is a large disparity in terms of skill and maturity at younger ages, a six year old born in April and a six year old born in September can have vastly differing needs, both academic and emotional.

In my county, each kindergarten classroom has one teacher, a para-pro and a reading and math specialist (although they are not in the classroom on a constant basis) to help those who are behind OR ahead of their peers.

Diminutive One has a July birthday, so it was in regard to him that there was ever any doubt. But he did just fine. I have no regrets.

Wendy said...

I am in the camp of going by the kid. My daughter entered into a school setting at 2 yrs old. I learned from that experience. I didnt need daycare, but was talked into thinking that my child would be a social mutant if she didnt spend any time with other kids.

That didnt stop us from sending her onto pre-3 and pre-4 classes, which were more like school. She learned a few things, but they were things that I learned in Kindergarten.

My son is only 18 months old, but I dont think he will be entering school until he is at least 4 years old. I just think it will cause more problems than help. Then again, I could be wrong. It is a wait and see kinda thing. He will definitely not be going at 2 yrs old. I dont need to spend that kind of money for him to learn how to drink out of a cup.

At my daughter's school, I get a sense that they focus more on early learning. I dont know if this is simply to bring in the money or they are following that working parents need childcare. It seems that many parents feel better about childcare if their kids learn something. Personally, I am just happy someone else gets to refree for awhile.

I have a fear that if my children do not go to this school and get prepared for their kindergarten (where they learn to read OMG) class than they will be subjected to the tyranny that is public school here. It appears that the public schools are only concern with teaching kids what they need to know for the test that allows them to go on to the next grade.

I believe that New Orleans has a much different approach to education than most of the country. Meaning we suck at it. Everyone strives to send their kids to Catholic school or private school. It is still screwed up since Hurricane Katrina and most kids dont even know where they are going, so having a concrete knowledge of where my kids are going and how the school is runned is important.

Oh, The Joys said...

C's birthday is June 22, and we chose to hold her back a year. She started kindergarten last week at age 6. I'm fairly certain she's the oldest in her class. We held her back purely for social reasons..... she's not the most confident kid in the world, and has her immature moments (at the age of 6, tho, maybe "age-inappropriate behavior"
moments would be more accurate). She spent 3 years in Montessori, the last 2 years were full time, 8-3 five days a week, and she didn't have a problem with that, but in her mixed age-classroom, she really blossomed and came out
of her shell last year, as one of the older kids in her class.

Academically, she's ahead of the game- she reads chapter books, writes in print and cursive, and was learning quite a lot of math concepts last year in school.
But it just seemed to us that, in her case, with her particular personality, she would only benefit in the future, socially and confidence-wise, by being
a little older. If were turn out to be wrong, it's going to be easier to move her ahead, than it would have been to hold her back. I'm lucky in that I stay at home with them, so if she is bored academically in school, I can
work with her myself in the afternoon if she's interested.

Also, I met with 2 of the K teachers in the spring, and our school is flexible in being able to
adjust to and work with kids who are ahead of or behind the curve in
academics. We'll just have to see how the year pans out. P and Little C have birthdays in the winter and early spring, so it's not an issue with them, but judging from their personalities right now, we would
not have considered holding them back. They seem to think they are taking the world by storm. I only have had limited contact with The Rooster, and I'm not her mom so what do I know, but if I may be so bold, it doesn't look like you
are going to run into confidence problems with that one!!

I have lots more to say re: NYT article and some scary things I've heard from parents of kids in well-off suburbs here (private baseball coach for your 6 year old, anyone?), but I've gone on long enough.

[Sent by T, Stay at home Mom]

LSM said...

Here's a link that says in a whole lot of words "it doesn't make a difference" http://nces.ed.gov/programs/quarterly/vol_2/2_3/elem_kindergarten.asp

And another link with some good info. http://boe.gree.k12.wv.us/williamsburg/delayedentry.htm

In our district, we've been actively encouraging parents not to "redshirt" unless there's compelling evidence it would be best for that individual child. Kindergarten curriculum is designed for 5 year olds, not six or seven year olds. There's plenty of diversity to go around in level of preparedness without sending kids in at older ages.

On a personal note, I sent my August girl and my May boy on to kindergarten at 5, and I haven't regretted it at all. The cutoff date in our state is Sept. 1.

Lisa said...

I have a few friends who've held their kids back. But only because the child didn't seem emotionally mature enough -- that they felt the child lacked the attention span and social skills. (Plus one child was still having some seperation anxiety issues.) And the children were some of the youngest in the class.

I could have held Seth back this year but he was very ready (socially) to go. He saw all of his close friends going and wanting to be with them. I figured we'll work on some of the necessary skills he needs at home as well. If he needs to repeat, then we can...

Does that help?

Heather said...

I've heard about it, it is apparently relatively common around here. I am in the opposite position, they just moved the school starting age back to Sept 1, my youngest has a Sept 3 birthday. I already have enough trouble keeping her occupied and out of trouble I can't imagine what she would be like at 6 and just starting Kindergarten. We are sending her to a full-day preschool this year instead of her home daycare and toying with the idea of having her tested to begin early--pretty much the opposite of redshirting.

I am having a battle of the conscience (and have been since they announced this and I scheduled a c-section)--are we pushing her, am I being cheap, etc

Stepping Over the Junk said...

There was an article on the kindergarten thing in Newsweek last year. It all seems very snotty to me. But valid. I think it is individual for each child and the motive behind "wanting your child to be ahead of everyone" seems selfish.

imhelendt said...

I want to add something to this discussion that I keep seeing throughout the comments: That sports don't matter. These people obviously do not have boys in the third through six grade. Because no matter what your view (as a parent) is on sports, it damn well matters to them.

The kids who are not in sports get labeled as nerd or geek. They get bullied. Starting in third grade, the kids who play sports are the "cool" kids. Their lives are all about sports. They play sports at recess and lunch, they play sports after school and on weekends. They compare themselves in PE. It is absolute ignorance to say that sports don't matter. Ask any third or fourth grade teacher. To boys, at 9 and 10 years old, IT IS ALL ABOUT THE SPORTS. Don't kid yourself. I am living this right now. No parent of any boy this age will deny that sports have a tremndous impact on these boys. Like it or not, it matters.

Barb said...

Please don't forget another side of this- Junior High and High School. Do you want to have a child being able to drive the summer before their Sophomore year? Think about his hormones....well, K will remember how it was/is.

Catherine said...

My son's birthday is 9/22. The cutoff for kindergarten in our district is 9/15. The district that he goes to daycare in has a cutoff of 9/30. So, in our case he'll be in pre-K at daycare two years in a row because he doesn't make the age requirement in our district.

There are times that I think I need to beat the system. Enroll him in kindergarten in a private school and then start him in 1st grade and just let him be the youngest. But then I look at my sweet little boy. My son will never be a linebacker. Maybe a kicker. Maybe. His dad is of slight build and E definitely takes after his dad. So, by not beating the system I can help my son be one of the more physically mature when he hits high school. I'm not looking for him to excel or be better than his classmates, but to merely fit in.

But then... by the time E meets the birthday requirement for kindergarten he will have been in a preschool setting for more than three years. He knows circle time, how to follow the leader, etc etc. Will he be bored if I don't send him when he's 4 (nearly 5)? If he's bored will he act out? Leading me down the road of another national epidemic of medicating children to behave?

I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. That no matter which I chose, I'll regret the choice. E turns 4 this year. I'm running out of time to make an informed decision.

DraMa said...

Personally I think that idea is a piece of crap. I think it sounds a little unfair.

Instead of holding your kids back why not try to arm them with the tools they need before they start school!! Wonder if parents would ever think of that?

Why is it always the schools responsibility?

I know, I haven't read the article nor have I ever heard of this.... but that is what I think anyway:) LOL!

Mel said...

Both my girls are already past this milestone, but I'll chime in just a little bit.
Really Rosie has a March birthday, so the point was moot. She started right on par with most of her peers, shot straight past most of them, and is now in a program for gifted students here in town.
The Mack, on the other hand, has a December birthday, so had to wait the extra time and was somewhat older and taller than the other children in her class. And she is more advanced than her peers in some subjects, such as math and science, but is right on par in others, such as reading and language arts.
Basically, I agree with Melissa (Sugared Harpy). Each kid is completely different; each personality and learning style is different; there is only one standard to use to decide on this, and that is your own judgment. Not ambition, not competitiveness, just your knowledge of your children and what they need and what they can do.
Phew!
(Oh, and I'd never heard of redshirting before either.)

MommyMommy said...

don't hold your kids back!!!

The "redshirting " practice has been discussed numerous times here in MommyMommyLand, mainly because Aba is an Kindergarten teacher. Basically the consensus here is it is a really bad thing to do, for the kid that was purposely held back and for the class of kids in general. If your child truly is not ready, an expert (the teacher) will tell you, and then you can decide if they should be withdrawn from class, or redo it the next year. On the same level "tutoring" for preschool, prek, and kindergarten are also not needed.

Ally said...

I read that article and initially felt confused as well. I am lucky in that I don't have to make this decision-- all of my children have solid fall birthdays and so will be old 5 year olds (nearly 6) when they start school.

Still, if they didn't, I would only gauge their readiness based upon their individual readiness, not upon their ability to compete with their classmates. It seems crazy to me to be thinking in such a competitive way. I agree with the other commenter who emailed you stating that this is what crazy rich NYers are doing, and since when do we act like them?

ewe are here said...

I haven't time to read the comments, but...

I have read the article about redshirting kindergarteners and similar ones.

I believe that you have an obligation to do what you believe is what's best for your own kids in terms of when/when not to start school. How the needs of your own children affect those around them can't be your primary concern. It just can't. Those concerns need to be addressed by society as a whole.

When I worked at a certain State LEgislature, a frequent bill that came up related to the starting age for kindergarteners. Most teachers and highly educated parents wanted children to start school later than they were --unless they felt their particular children were ready-- because experience indicated that they would do much better in school in the years to come. The bill never passed because people would come out of the woodwork to complain that they'd have to pay for yet another year of childcare/nursery/daycare or stay at home. Even those who felt their kids weren't truly ready for school felt this way. The financial burden was just too great.

Childcare for an extra year is a serious concern for many. It needs to be addressed, in the form of subsidized daycare or junior kindergarten so parents don't feel like they have to make such a terrible choice: family economic survival or their childrens' academic future.

ewe are here said...

PS: I was essentially redshirted; I took two years of kindergarten. I went from being one of the youngest to the one of the oldest, and it was the best thing my parents could have done for me, as I was hyperactive, and tiny for my age. I know it would have been a total disaster for me socially and academically if I hadn't been held back.

Stimey said...

I think this is a very interesting issue, and I believe that there are definitely reasons to keep your child back a year, especially now that kids are expected to know so much already by the time they get to kindergarten. They're not learning how to cut paper in kindergarten now; they're learning to READ.

My son's birthday is in October and he will be one of the oldest in his kindergarten class this year. I don't know if he's technically a redshirt because I don't think he could have gotten in last year. But I'm really happy he'll be a little older. He's more confident than last year, he's braver than last year, he has more common sense than last year, he has a better knowledge base than last year. This kid is READY for kindergarten.

But there is the other side, as you point out. What if I couldn't afford to stay home with him that extra year? Is it fair to put an almost six-year-old (or older) next to a just-turned-five-last-week kid and expect them to be in the same place?

I think maybe we need to stop putting so much pressure on our little kids (5 or 6 is still pretty little) to know so much. Can't they just play? But in real life, I think you just have to put together what you can for your family to make it work for your child and try not to worry about what others are doing. (Easier said than done.)

Petite Mommy said...

Our son started kindergarten last week at the age of 6 so I guess you can say we "redshirted" if that's what you want to call it. I also talked about this on my blog here
http://www.contestformoms.com/2007/07/kindergarten-redshirt.html

Personally, our son was not ready to go to kindergarten last year. He was academically ready but not emotionally ready. with play dates and extracurricular activities he simply refused to interact with the other kids along with a few more issues. But now one year later he is totally ready and flourishing so we are very happy that we waited until 6.
I think it comes down to the child. Theres no wrong or right answer. Some of the cons for redshirting in that article are absurd.

kittenpie said...

I have heard more about people not ready to let their preshus babies leave their home yet than I have about the academics or whatever you might call it at the kindergarten level. In any case, here's the thing - the kids of the "haves" go to school way more prepared than any "have nots" in the first place. The knowledge and behaviours are lightyears ahead. They are children who have been read to and given experiences that the others have not, and it shows. Even if they are three and the "have nots" are four, it might just create a level playing field. I would say that a kid who is ready for kindergarten ought not to be held back - with a late November birthday, I was always among the youngest, without any problem, because i was ready to go. Sad that some people are apparently so concerned in freaking kindergarten about thier child's "performance."

Jen M. said...

Oh we've heard of redshirting, all right. I think it stinks. It makes me boiling mad that parents are so pathetically tied up in their children's success (whether it be academic or athletic) that they hold them back so they'll be ahead. The parents that do this are the ones with red faces on the soccer sidelines or staying up at night "helping" their kids with homework. UGH.

How about just letting your child enjoy school and encouraging them to be the best they can be and relish the journey? My oldest is always the youngest in her class, and my other two that are in school close to the youngest as well. They're not the best or the fastest, and there are kids nearly two years older than them in their classes. So what. What's important to me is that they learn to love learning and find something that makes their heart sing. I think winning a bunch of sports trophies or getting an ulcer from study-related stress isn't the way.

Just my thoughts (a verrrry touchy subject with me, can ya tell?)

Jen from Get in the Car! (in case I'm posting as you)

Jen M. said...

p.s.

I wanted to add that I don't oppose keeping a child back if they need it (because they're not ready for whatever reason). Redshirting as I understand it is specifically to enhance performance in school and activities with the older age, regardless of child readiness.

Making my way in PA said...

Okay, couldn't even read all the comments because there is a bazillion of them. I think that "redshirting" has nothing to do with how your child will perform. My husband has an Oct birthday and started school when he was four. He graduated hs with a 3.78, undergrad with a 3.8, masters with a 4.0 and working on his PhD at the age of 25. I don't think that age of starting school has as much to do with it as your child's enjoyment and passion for school. Some people get that at home, some people get that at preschool, where ever.

My little brother is 6 and started school late because of a late december birthday. He is extremely bright, reading at a third grade level while still in kindergarden. He just loves number, letters and all things learning. He has the passion. I think it has nothing to do with age and all to do with passion.

Erin said...

I've been reading the redshirting articles as well, and I think it really depends on the child. I was always the youngest in my grade, and it was never a problem. Of course it sucks when evreyone else could drive, but academically, it was not an issue. If they are ready, send 'em!

Chaos Control said...

I've only recently heard about this concept ... and I honestly don't know what to think. Part of me thinks it's just your typical media-drama at work, but I have no experience on the matter, so I really don't know what I'm talking about.

I do know that I come from a huge family full of school teachers. Because V was born one day after the cut-off date, I could have him start school early or wait a year when he'll be one of the older kids in class. All my relatives that teach have told me to wait - especially because he's a boy - so we're waiting.

This post does have me thinking, though!

Queen of the Mayhem said...

Both of my children's birthdays fall in September. I sent The Princess on...as she seemed ready...yet, with her birthday falling 7 days before the cutoff...she is,hands down, the youngest in her class. She has adapted well academically...but it took a LONG time for her to catch up emotionally.

Junior Mayhem will NOT be starting until he is almost 6. I have known for a while that he is not ready and Mr. Mayhem will not allow me to hold him back.

I can't speak for what will work for others.....but for us, this was the best option!

jeanie said...

Over here, unless you have written support from the preschool/prep teacher and good reason the dates stay pretty firm.

However - there are times when kids need a bit more time and socialising skills AND there are times when kids are well and truly ready before their date comes up.

Case by case - the main thing for kids in school is a good learning environment, a good teacher and MOST IMPORTANTLY a good support team at home.

So good luck.

I contemplated keeping 'Salina back when she broke her arm in the first month of Grade 1 - she is a November baby and our cutoff (at that stage) was December 31 - but she had made friends and wanted to stay.

Her cousin who is 7 January should really be in her class, as he can recognize 12 digit numbers, read well, write well, verbalise and socialise like an expert - but SIL wanted him her baby as long as possible.

Scarlett Wanna Be said...

I think that you have gotten several comments on what you should do but the bottom line is, is your kid ready for school. Some aren't ready when it is time, developmentally, socially, and/or physically. What gives you the most peace as a mother is what you need to do...screw everything else. Take if from me, I know what I am talking about, I don't have kids but I do have gas.

Sam and Ben's Mom said...

We sent our son to a private Pre-K (versus the state funded program) and I relied heavily on the opinion of his teacher on whether or not to send him to K as scheduled or wait another year. She was a former elementary teacher and a mother of 2 grown children. She said that he was ready and he did fine. I did hear from a Mother of a girl close to the Sept 1 cutoff, that the Teacher recommended another year of Pre-K rather than sending her off to K. The Mom totally agreed and held her back because Risa just wasn't confident yet and hadn't mastered the basic concepts.

I think it should be determined on a child by child basis. My neice whose birthday is two day before the cutoff was so ready that holding her back would have been a mistake. But my younger son is after the cutoff and I'm glad. I know he'll need an extra year of mature and he'll be ready at almost 6 to cut the apron strings.

Sam and Ben's Mom said...

oh and then there is the other side - my oldest neice with a 10/3 birthday just moved 8 hours away at 17 for college. The private school she went to didn't have a cutoff date 12 years ago so she started early. Her Mother wishes that she had held her back to have her home this year. My neice will do fine, but a year can really make a difference on the other side too. Think about sending your 17 vs 18 year old off to college ;-)

Jodi said...

My son has a late birthday and is therefore just about the youngest in his class. To make things really fun, he is small for his age, because both of his evil parents were late bloomers. Icing on the cake...he is starting high school this year. He is VERY sensitive about his size.

My oldest sister had a son with a late birthday and she held him out a year because he was not socially mature. He is still a jackass at age 20, so holding him out that year was helpful from a personality standpoint, you see.

Back to MY situation. I started my son in kindergarten at age 4 because the little beast was smart. Really smart. I ran into his third grade teacher last week and she asked about him. In closing she said, "He was so SMART." Yeah, she probably remembers his habit of correcting adults. That started when he was about three years old.

So, as I see it there is a two-pronged test: (1) intellectual ability (does he keep copies of The New Yorker beside his training potty?); and (2) social maturity (is he still eating cat poop in the sandbox and crying when the other kids run off?).

I sought a lot of expert input when considering my decision regarding my son. His babysitter (sorry, "home day care provider") had many years of experience, his stepfather had been an elementary principal for ten years, and another dad at the day care was an elementary principal. Honestly, it was something I started worrying about when I found out when he was due. I like to worry ahead so I can build up lots of anxiety.

Every child is different, so don't let some article make you question your instinct regarding your own child's readiness to start school. You probably know what is right for each of your kids. But we all want so badly to do only the RIGHT thing by our kids, that we are shaken by information that seems authoritative.

mrs incredible said...

Our daughter has an 8/25 bday, we held her which I guess is redshirting, but we didn't know what that was, so whatever. She is head and shoulders above every kid in her class. NOT bragging, this is a fact.

Sonny boy has a 4/16 bday, no need to hold him. He's average, academically.

Little will *probably* be held, because she's Chinese and still working up the courage to talk to people she doesn't know. But I talked to the kinder teachers at our school, and they basically said I could go either way.

I think the main thing, from a teacher standpoint, is that they've had some form of preschool, so they know about "circle time," waiting in line, taking turns, and general citizenship. Also independent in the bathroom/wash hands/put on a smock department is a plus.

Just know, if you screw it up? No Harvard, No Yale... OH FOR GOD SAKE, I'M KIDDING, PEOPLE!

For the record - I was youngest in my class and hated it. So, there you go.

Megan/ Velveteen Mind said...

I don't have time to read all of your comments just yet but wanted to send a note thanking you for this topic.

Pants's birthday is at the very end of July. He's also fairly big for his age. While I don't want him to be the youngest (particularly because he is a boy and I hate to think of all of his girlfriends getting their driver's licenses first, etc.), I also don't want him to be freakishly large by holding out a year.

I am very familiar with this redshirting thing. I've given it a lot of thought and I'm looking forward to seeing how this discussion goes.

How 'bout I stop typing and read those damn comments, then?

painted maypole said...

I have heard of the term, and did the exact opposite with my child, whom I fought to get into Kindergarten this year even though she didn't make the cutoff. I think if she had waited another year to go to Kindergarten she would have been bored silly and used her size (she is already mistaken for being a year or two older) to either bully other kids, or withdraw into herself. You should make the choice by what is right for your child - if they are ready, send them and don't worry about what the other parents are doing.

MamaLee said...

This has been a big topic in this house, but this is the first time I've heard the term "redshirting."

My son has an October birthday. When the time came to decide when and where he would start school, we decided on a private Catholic school, with a cut off date of December 31st. They offer a full day pre-k, with the child having to be 4 by the Dec. 31st cut off date. When the time came when he could go, we decided that he just wasnt ready. WE waited a year. Pumpkin was 4 when he started, but turned 5 weeks later.

We had the choice to put him in pre-k or K, and my husband and I decided that he would be ready for full day pre-k. He was (and still is) bright, but we felt that he would've been overwhelmed if he started school at 3 going on 4.

It's unbelievable to read that. Starting school at 3! Yikes. I never had any pre-k school - I started right out of the gate at Kindergarten. Anyway, Pumpkin was having issues with pooping, and the rule was that kids had to be potty-trained to enter pre-k. Poor guy and his constipation and his messes really sealed the deal - he needed more time to get ready on many levels.

So he started pre-k last year, and had a GREAT year. He was one of the older kids in his class, but there were other kids about the same age. Developmentally, he fit right in, and with a great teacher, this group of kids really did well. And my son is now ready for K in a big way.
5 going on 6, and he is right where he needs to be.

MY first daughter is 4 and will be 5 a the end of January. Princess is going to be going to full day pre-k, is all excited, and is ready. No doubts about her.

My baby, who is almost 3, will be 4 next fall, and I don't know at this point, if she'll be ready for pre-k. I think we'll get a better idea come springtime.

Bottom line in my mind is that the parents really need to make the decision on a child by child basis. Do what's best for the child, and all the other stuff needs to fall away.

Jess, follow your heart and your gut, and watch your kids. I know you do. You'll know when they are ready.

xoxo

Mimi said...

I read this too. I'm not sure what to make of it. I was actually appalled that parents were trying to accrue an advantage to their kids by deliberately holding them back so that they'd be bigger / stronger / smarter than their 'peers'. That smacks of ridiculous to me.

I guess I'm opposed to doing it not to redress a disadvantage (small, immature, developmental needs best met in different settings) but to press an advantage (better college application).

I was always the oldest kid in my class, and was always under threat of 'skipping' because I was intellectually not at all challenged by the material -- I was too old and too smart. Which breeds boredom. So 'redshirting' may develop children who are understimulated and cocky (ie, me).

One more damn thing to worry about. I refuse to worry about college admissions when enrolling my child for preschool. That's insane.

Lotta said...

Basically, you are your child's advocate in life. So you just have to take the journey with them knowing that when and if you feel there needs to be a change for their benefit you will speak up. Start Kindergarten and if you feel something needs to be done, trust that you'll do it!

Lotta

leendaluu said...

Hi
I haven't read through all the 111 comments but thought I would relay my own experiences. The development of the child, at least as far as I perceived, was really my guide.

A is my oldest and was born early Jan when our cut off was Dec 31. He had been to preschool and I could have lobbied him into the grade that year but it didn't feel right. He was still young, active and less focused. Cost for day care did not play that much into the decision so we just decided to wait. He started school in 1995 after he was already five. G is a girl and started in 1996. She was very close to the cut off but she had her stuff together.

As they finish high school they are doing quite well. Successful, confident kids but not stars. Well balanced, kind and patient with younger children. Admired by their peers but not singled out.

What I'm saying is tha it is not the internet's choice, it is yours. Nor do you have to feel pressure from the schoolsystem to mainstream your child.

I'm starting it all again witht he twins and have some how gotten a flag from the school nurse that something wasn't right it their records....Panic. The non compliant mom. Yikes.

In my mind this reads as oh, well, I'll get to it.

I've been through all the wackadoo permutations and would be happy to talk with you: email me: lindalou1158@yahoo.com.

You will do just fine.

leendaluu said...

Hi
I haven't read through all the 111 comments but thought I would relay my own experiences. The development of the child, at least as far as I perceived, was really my guide.

A is my oldest and was born early Jan when our cut off was Dec 31. He had been to preschool and I could have lobbied him into the grade that year but it didn't feel right. He was still young, active and less focused. Cost for day care did not play that much into the decision so we just decided to wait. He started school in 1995 after he was already five. G is a girl and started in 1996. She was very close to the cut off but she had her stuff together.

As they finish high school they are doing quite well. Successful, confident kids but not stars. Well balanced, kind and patient with younger children. Admired by their peers but not singled out.

What I'm saying is tha it is not the internet's choice, it is yours. Nor do you have to feel pressure from the schoolsystem to mainstream your child.

I'm starting it all again witht he twins and have some how gotten a flag from the school nurse that something wasn't right it their records....Panic. The non compliant mom. Yikes.

In my mind this reads as oh, well, I'll get to it.

I've been through all the wackadoo permutations and would be happy to talk with you: email me: lindalou1158@yahoo.com.

You will do just fine.

NoMommy said...

How timely, given that I have spent my day today testing kids for EARLY entrance to K.

I work in a place that offers full day 5 day/week K. We always have 20-30 people who try to get their kid whose b-day falls after the cutoff into K as a 4 year old. Maybe 1 or 2 each year will pass the screening.

Some people will hold their age appropriate kid back too. I don't think that it is a horrible thing to do if the extra year will do them some sort of good.

The curriculum and pressures placed on kindergarten students in this country are, IMHO developmentally inappropriate, which makes redshirting necessary for some kids. What we ask of K students is what used to be asked of 1st graders or even 2nd graders.

I get asked about redshirting a lot, and my answer is always the same. You know your child better than anyone. go visit a K class, see what they are doing and what is expected. If the Mayor and the Rooster have the cognitive, preacademic, social emotional, etc. skills that are considered necessary for K success then send them. However, if an extra year of preK will bring them a maturity, or a preacademic level that is similar to their peers (meening that now they are not as mature/don't have the same skills as their age peers) then wait a year.

But doing so won't necessarily give them some sort of advantage that will carry them throughout life. As far as the studies are concerned, they typically see any gains that are made early on balance out within the first few grades anyway.

One school psychologist's humble opinion, you know your kids, get to know the curriculum and expectations at the school they will go to and then make the best decision for your kid.

Alpha DogMa said...

Okay, I'm back! Thought you were rid of my huh?

I think it unfair that criticism is being levelled at parents for redshirting. Because redshirting is just a sympton of the disease that is riddling the public school system in the US. Namely the No Child Left Behind legislation.

We're going to delay Boy2 a year - not for competitive reasons, but because he deserves a full five years at home in the chaos of our lives. Yeah, he'll be the oldest in his grade, but he can always bootleg for his buddies in senior year.

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

As you may remember, Declan is 2 weeks from the cut off for his school. Making him among the youngest in his class. We had serious, serious mental masturbation about whether to send him this year or wait.

But what shocked me as we entered into this discussion amongst friends, my mommy message boards, etc - was learning about the concept of redshirting and how it is totally the vogue now.

We ended up deciding to send Declan this year, but after long discussions about his academic, social and physical readiness. And when we were sick of thinking about it, we just said, what the hell - the worst that can happen is he will repeat a grade, right?

And sure, I can totally see reasons to hold kids back, as a good friend did with her son who was more on the other side of the birthday scale... making sure he was ready, etc.

But, to hold a child back for the SOLE reason of trying to make them the biggest, smartest, fastest in their class?

Well, that just sucks ass.

And that kid is probably just gonna flunk out from partying too much with his fraternity anyway. ;)

Aliki2006 said...

Oh boy, I am well on top of THIS topic.

This is probably not the best time to ask my opinion on this. We were fervently against redshirting our own son--he seemed so academically advanced, even if he did have some social quirks. Now in hindsight, given his Asperger's diagnosis, we probably should have held him back (he's a July b-day), but obviously it's too late.

But I am feeling some guilt about it. I do think it just depends on the child and it's unfortunate, in Liam's case, that there are many kids who were held back and are bigger than him and socially more aggressive.

Jordan said...

Sigh. This trend drives me crazy. Couldn't we all just look at our own kids, not worrying about what everyone else is doing, and make a sound decision based on their needs? If they're ready, send 'em. If we're not sure at registration time, enroll 'em and then if they're actually not ready for some reason, keep 'em in preschool another year.

In California, the cut-off is December 1st, one of the lowest in the nation. Our son went to kindergarten at 4 years 9 months. He was at the top of his class academically and social-emotionally. When we moved to Chicago, people were a bit shocked at how young he was until they realized that he was indeed in the appropriate grade for his needs.

My second child will turn five a matter of minutes before the cut-off date for Illinois, and he'll be happily sent off to kindergarten - come on! SOMEBODY has to be the youngest!! It's not going to harm my child to be the youngest in his class! I do NOT get it.

People whose kids have special needs - or are legitimately in need of another year to mature - often have solid reasons for holding a child back -- but doing so for the sake of giving them a better shot at being at the top of the class academically? It makes me want to barf.

Come on, America. Life is not all about skills and it's not all about being #1. Sometimes I just can't take it.

Barb said...

Here is a good summary of the term Redshirting.

http://www.kidsource.com/education/red.shirting.html

Another issue to keep in mind is that each state has their own cut off date. My state's cut off is October 15th. I can understand parent's holding their child back for a summer birthday but a March birthday?

Queen Karana said...

When we lived in Virginia, the cut-off date was September 30th. If we still lived there, The Dragon would be starting Kindergarten this year. However, we moved to Utah, and the cut-off date is September 1st, which means The Dragon misses the deadline by 11 days.

But, I'm not upset about it. While I think that The Dragon could do the work with little difficulty, emotionally, she is a completely different story. While I won't be "red-shirting" her (because she will be one of the oldest in her class), I am glad she has the extra year to catch-up emotionally.

I have a friend who held back her little boy because she wanted him to be "big" -- he finished Kindergarten last year, and she is already regretting it. He's bored out of his mind and is a trouble maker -- and still not very big (teen years will change that, perhaps?) to boot.

Look at your child and trust your instincts. I think the emotional readiness is the important part -- school is a stressful situation and you want him to be able to handle the different experiences well.

You've still got time... The Mayor is going to do a lot of changing over the next year or two. I think it will be fairly clear to you as to whether or not he is ready when the time is closer. And, when registration comes around (which is anytime 3-6 months before school actually starts), you can register him, and pull him out at the last minute if you feel he truly isn't ready.

But trust your instincts... it'll all work out in the end.

Oh, and do the math: My friend who decided to hold her son back is just now realizing that he will turn 16 as a freshman, and will want his drivers license. Oops. (He turned 7 in kindergarten -- he's a March birthday)

Granted, the "math" shouldn't be the basis of your final decision, but it IS something to keep in mind. He will be 19 when he graduates...

canarygirl said...

Hi Jessica!

My view on this whole topic is decidedly unique, but I will share my experiences with you anyway...My kids were all born here in Spain, whose educational system begins at age 3. There is a 3 year pre-school (mandatory by the country), then the kids move on to first grade. The birthday cut off is also done in natural years, rather than school years (January 1st, rather than September 1st). That's where we began...my kids' birthdays are all September and after, so here, they are the youngest of their classes. Except that when my oldest was 4, we moved to the US. Voluntary pre-k, mandatory waiting period for beginning k. So, they had to basically skip a year of school, which was no big deal, actually...I enrolled them in pre-k and went on my merry way with their educational plan in my pocket, fairly clear that it was for the best. Except then we moved back. My kids were a year *behind* their peers because of their ages and the differences in the educational systems of each country. They again had to skip a grade, but this time, they had to skip forward. (This was mandatory as well, at least for the first year) This really wrenched my conscious as a mother...my kids were WAY behind their classmates, and being forced to try to assimilate a new system and try to catch up, with little or no help from the school--we were on our own there. It's been 3 years now, and this year, dd2 will be repeating her grade. Finally. It's been an emotional rollercoaster of trying to build the kids' self esteem up while at the same time trying to adhere to the rigid academic standards set by the Spanish school system. Dd1 has overcome (for the most part) her issues and is right around the upper middle of her class. But dd2 is at a sad place, and feels that she's failed. But who's to blame for this? Us for not insisting harder? Her teachers for not seeing that she needed more? I don't know. All I know is that each child is different, and moves at a different pace educationally. If you feel your child is ready, send them...but if your gut feeling is that they aren't yet ready, perhaps it's best to speak to the school and decide whether or not your child should wait.

KC said...

I think if it's based soley on the characteristics of the individual child it can make sense, but as a general idea to gain advantage in a normally-developing child: very wrong.

Feener said...

first off 124 comments !1 yikes i hope you get to this one. i have heard of this. i first heard of it when my sis was deciding what to do with her daughter. in my local area it is very common for people to hold their boys back. Now i don't think it is bad when your child is held back b/c the bday is say a few (the most 4 weeks from the cutoff) but i have heard people doing it for like 3 months !!! i think it would be intersting to hear what TEACHERS think

kschendel said...

Add me to the "bullshit" category. I've had 4, the youngest is 21, and we sent them all as soon as they were old enough. The holding-back thing MAY give the kid a short term advantage, but it's pretty much gone by middle school. It can be a positive detriment by late high school; do you really want your kid to be 19 or even 20 and still be a senior? Does the kid want it? I think not.

Kevin Charnas said...

the sooner that humanity embraces, and I mean EMBRACES the notion that there is no "us" and "them", that it's all "us", in every aspect of our lives, the better off everyone will be.

that's what i think anyway.

Heather said...

The last thing I want is my demon brat to be eighteen and a legal adult her entire senior year. Ha freakin ha. Not happening. She'll be starting Kindy aproximately a week after her fifth birthday. She's very social and a smarty pants, so I'm sure she'll do well.

shelookslikeme.wordpress said...

Yo. Sorry to be late with the comment on redshirting. I did start school on time, and see? Nothing special happened.
One of my sisters-in-law, who teaches special ed, held her three kids (one girl, two boys) back a year. I don't know their birthdays, but I do know that none of them are especially mature for their age (the youngest is a college sophomore). They were no better at sports and weren't all that smart to begin with. I have friends (twin sisters) who finished high school at 16, college at 20 and they're well adjusted. In fact, I might ask one of them for money. It all just depends so much on the Joy. It all really comes down to Joy, doesn't it? Joyous parents, joyous homes, joyous activities. Don't sweat it too much. You have Joy.

flutter said...

I wish I had something to contribute to this other than, you will know what is right for your kids, when the time comes.

I have total faith in you

megachick said...

haven't read the article yet, nor all the comments (whew!) but it seems like most of them have similar advice--you know your kid, you make the call. i agree. i also agree with the general sentiment that if done for the best interest of the child, redshirting can be a good choice, but if done for the ego boosting of the parents, it's all wrong.
i was an early starter because i was underfoot and too smart for my mom's good. thinking about it now, i probably could have benefitted socially from waiting another year. oh well. before thinking about this issue, i probably would have tried to start my daughter early, too, since she is mature for her age. chemo and related issues took that decision out of my hands. we'll have to wait and see if it was for good or bad.

Rock the Cradle said...

What a response! There seems to be something funky going on here though. I know you couldn't have written all of these responses to yourself!

I saw this article as well when my husband emailed it to me. It rubbed me the wrong way, primarily because it seemed to me to encourage parents to see their child not as they are, but as the parents want them to be.

It viewed school as a place not so much for learning for it's own sake, but a place to work an advantage over others.

Which opens a whole other gripe I have about the structure of the school system. Grading.

Grades, when they were introduced as an organizational tool back around the start of the 20th century (by the town of Quincy here in merry ol' MA), had nothing to do with enhancing education. It was just a way of organizing students by age rather than by accomplishment.

A tool for bureaucracy, not for teachers. Not for learning. Kids will learn at their own pace, or not at all. And that has nothing to do with age. Kids that skip grades often do better socially in the long run than those who are forced to remain in their own age group because those in charge think they will benefit from socializing with kids their own age.

Bullshit. The kids become both bored with school work, and anti social when they don't fit in with their peers.

If we took age and grades out of the equation, and just looked at the kids, their interests, and their needs, we would all be a lot better off.

Not that I have strong opinions about education, you understand.

katy said...

My daughter turned 6 her first day of kindergarten and it made a world of difference. She has always been a straight A student and was never clingy or scared of being at school. My son started a month after his 5th birthday and that was a huge mistake. He cried, he stressed and he did finally graduate with honors but it was much harder. Boys usually need to start later I think, they are a little later to mature.

amusing said...

Having seen the count of how many comments are here, my two cents aren't even worth that at this point, so I'll toss them on the pile for free:

I'm fascinated that the article turned something that has been a practice, in my experience, based on what seemed best for the child in terms of maturity and confidence-building, and made it into some new, crazy, yuppie competitive thing.

My son's birthday was very near the cut off date for the private school we applied for. We got our acceptance and they wanted him -- but for pre-k, not Kingergarten. We agonized -- do we send him to kingergarten at public school? do we send him to pre-K? I also emailed friends (several teachers among them) but the tipping comment came from my plumber. It was the "boys" part of it -- they mature more slowly than girls. He'd held both his boys back to give them an extra year to get up to speed. He made it all about gaining confidence and not feeling lost from day one.

Anyone I've ever talked to, it's been about the best interests of their children in terms of development and learning -- not dreams of varsity teams, championships, honor roll, etc.

But you can spin anything into something else. And maybe in hyper competitive educational markets like New York, that's what's going on.

Suburban Oblivion said...

My problem with this practice comes in when teachers are commenting how you "can always tell the younger kids" in the class. When people are holding out their kids, and so you have just-turned-fives in the same class with kids turning seven, ya THINK ya might be able to tell the difference?? Thats a TWO YEAR age gap, and it's detrimental to both ends of the spectrum. My daughter's preschool only allowed a 9 month age span in each class, and I am seriously starting to think public schools should look into this option as well. I'm against starting late unless there is a truly compelling reason to do so.

CakeHead said...

I think KC said it perfectly. It depends on the motivations. My son was born one day after the cut off. I'm fine with that. It's OTHER people that are not, and that really gets under my skin! If he were born two days earlier I'd be having an entirely different internal debate, but it is what it is as far as I'm concerned. He'll start at almost six.

Of course, if he were two days older, I might be having an entirely different internal debate. This is one case where I'm letting the rules just be the rules.

Although I wouldn't be against a calendar year cut-off.

Karen said...

We happen to live in a nook of CT where most people have lots more money than we do - we're alright and have three spring birthdays so the potential of a planned change in the cut-off date would not make any financial difference to us, but if I had fall birthdays, it really would. And I always think about those families when people we know start itching for the date change, so they can send their kids later without red-shirting, they want the advantages (who doesn't?) without the stigma of being perceived as too competitive. Mostly they don't consciously say to themselves "I want my son to have an advantage in sports" but that will be the result nonetheless. They want whats best for their kid, but sadly, that can be at odds with what's best for other people's kids. And the only way to fix that is too fully fund preschool and junior kindergarten - which is a whole big thing that by the time it is solved lots of our children will be well on their way in grade school. In the meantime, you will do what's best for your brood, I'm sure.

Cherann said...

I'm redshirting. The princess is a September birthday. In many states, September 1st is the cut off but in California, December 19th is the cut-off.

I've spoken to numerous teachers that say they wish they had held their child back. They also say there is a big difference between the young ones and the older ones. You don't notice the difference in Kindergarten or First Grade, but you really start to see it in Second.

Think about it this way...there are hundreds of thousands of kids in college whose parents pay for that that extra year for them to graduate...why wouldn't you do it for a young child?

Mad Hatter said...

Dear Jess,
Before I left on my summer vacation at the beginning of August, I explicitly asked the blogosphere not to write anything interesting in my absence. It would appear that you are not a good listener and therefore should be held back a year.

Thanks for this post and all the comments generated by both your on and offline community. I had never heard of the practice and I doubt that it will hit my neck of the rural woods but the underlying ethical issue is a murky one. Part of me wants to say "do what is best for the individual kid" but then who determines what is best for a child and where is the bar set? It is all so unnerving b/c a parent with a legitimate concern for a child's development doesn't necessarily look or sound any different than a parent seeking "the edge." I've never found those media-described competi-parents to exist really. I'm sure they do but they don't have dastardly mustaches that tip us all off that they are the villains of the piece, ya know?

OK, off to bed. BTW, did you read my masturbation post? I was aiming for a Joysian esprit de corps with it--not that I can presume such a thing but I can aim high, right?

Christine said...

i'm comment 140 so may be lost here, but her is my 2 cents anyhow. ..

it depends. yeah, wishy washy i know. but holding back because of legit concerns about maturity etc are one thing--i shoud hav ebeen held back as i was SO immature and kindergarten and first grade were so awful for me. butdoing it so your kid will be the smartest? kinda gross.

Swistle said...

Hi--I clicked over from Bub & Pie. I try not to read articles like that, because I find parenting confusing enough as it is, without factoring in gigantic social issues.

What I would do is this. I would look at my own child. I would think, "Does he/she seem ready for school?" If the answer was no, I would hold him/her back. If the answer was yes, I would send him/her. I would not let my decision be affected by parents who were making their choices based on considerations I would think were weird.

edj said...

How funny...we "redshirted" our son because we'd just moved overseas, and he didn't speak French so he repeated K to learn it. In the French system they still skip kids if they're bright, so I've always worried the other way--that holding him back would hurt his self-esteem. He still says, "I'd be 7th grade in America but I'm 6th grade in the French system because..." I'll have to let him know he's trendy ;)Thanks so much!

Esmerelda said...

ummm...we pushed my older son and he dug in his heels and got thrown out of preschool. So with the younger, I'm taking a more laid back approach. He's born in November so there is NO WAY he'll go to kindergarten for 2 more years.

I'd rather struggle to pay day care than push him.

Anonymous said...

The problem with not redshirting comes during the middle school years. As our principal stated, "there are so many changes going on in these children during the middle school years -- and, it's all from the neck, down!" Studies have shown that the brain activity during middle school years are less active than any other time in a person's life. Middle school is very emotional. Why wouldn't you want to give your child an advantage to handle all the social issues that present themselves by simply giving them ONE MORE YEAR to develop? One of our sons is getting ready to enter the 8th grade. He is a 3.5 student at a very challenging school. We did not hold him back. Obviously, he is scholastically fine. He tends to follow the crowd. Graduating high school at 17, he will be at a disadvantage when applying to colleges. The important point in the kindergarten redshirting question is not to ask yourself about "here and now", but to think long term.