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Redshirts?

11705544_10100320217663269_180607802720379575_oMy son turns 5 this year, but he isn’t going to Kindergarten. This was something I agonized over. Something, truth be told, I am still agonizing over. If he went he would likely be the absolute youngest kid in his class. I’m sure he’d be fine…

Now, an important consideration, had he been born 12 hours later we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion. Yes, I know someone who’s kid will start K this year, someone who’s child was born after mine (there is inevitably a way to skirt cut-off dates). C’est la vie. No one would bat an eye had my son been born 12 hours later, after the cut-off. Cut-offs vary wildly, from July 31 in several states to as late as January 1st in Connecticut, true lines in the sand.

I suppose I am writing this because of the agonizing. Agonizing that I am certain I am not alone in. Kindergarten is a right of passage, a decision fraught with worry for many. At this point I’ve read countless articles and research studies, recent within the last 7 years of course, and the information is conflicting ( a good overview). Many articles discuss the effects of redshirting on the classroom age spread and the detrimental effects on lower socioeconomic status students, but there is no conclusive evidence as to the best course of action. Leaving me without answers.

Will he be ok? Will he do well? Maybe he’s not ready…

What if he’s not ready…

Against my better judgement I asked a friend who said, “I wouldn’t do it, but I can see why you would, your son isn’t like mine.” It cut to the core. It implied there was something wrong with my guy. My son is rambunctious and full of energy, but he can sit still and stay on task. He follows directions and his preschool teachers always compliment his behavior. I’m sure he’d be fine…

Parents redshirt on the advice on teachers who will often say, “the older kids just do better…” or are more well-behaved. Parents redshirt because they think it will give their kids an advantage. My mom thought my sister and I were too shy, and so we both went to Head Start and turned 6 in K. Maybe I’m not ready. Maybe it’s what I did, and I know I’m fine.

Really, my child is in a minority being that his birth puts him less than 12 hours from “missing” the cut-off. He may not be the child who could most benefit from the gift of time, that child will probably struggle this year, preschool wasn’t an option.

Redshirting is controversial mainly in that those doing it are more likely to have been able to afford preschool than those who don’t. Thus creating an age spread of 4-6 on the first day where the 6 year olds are very likely to have had preschool and the youngest kids are very likely to have never set foot in a classroom. In many ways this can be seen as setting the system up to fail, while others argue that the increased push toward direct instruction in K is what sets it up to fail. It’s something to think about.

Here is WCSD’s Welcome to Kindergarten brochure.

Ultimately, there is no right answer. Each of us is making the best choices we can each day.

 

Other articles about redshirting:

http://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/redshirting-kindergarten/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/should-children-be-held-back-for-kindergarten-1410536168

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/youngest-kid-smartest-kid

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About Jamie Schnell

Jamie Schnell
Jamie Schnell is an RN and full-time mommy to three boys. Her husband, Adam, keeps track of all the stuff that she can never remember where she had it last, and she loves his geeky-wonderfulness. He is definitely the best daddy. Jamie has a BA in English to accompany her BS in Nursing, and recently completed her Master's in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner track. Jamie loves reading, writing, crafting anything and everything, green beans, having little parties to celebrate life, coffee, camping, cooking, spa days, Cheetoes, naps, and just being outside.

One comment

  1. Lauren Bradfield
    Lauren Bradfield

    I understand EXACTLY how you feel. My son was born on Sept 30th at 5:15 pm. Just a few hours later this would not be a discussion. Because of this, he did one year of private K last year and will do another this year in a WCSD school. I’ confident we are making the right decision, as I think you are. I was young (Sept 23 bday), and started K at 4. It wasn’t till fourth grade where teachers finally stopped telling my mom I was too immature and needed to be held back. I don’t remember early elementary being a very rewarding time for me. If I can avoid that for my kids, I will.

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