Academic “redshirting” (holding children back so that they're older when entering kindergarten) has been a hot topic lately. But, many years ago, before the term redshirting was borrowed from college football and used in education, I was faced with a similar decision.
My son’s birthday is in November. The cut-off date for children entering kindergarten in our state, at that time, was Dec. 31. This meant my son could have entered kindergarten at age 4. He would have turned 5 the November of his kindergarten year. My husband and I had many discussions about what to do.
In my heart, I knew that he was not developmentally ready. He was physically big for his age and had good verbal and social skills, but these were deceiving. He was not as mature as he looked. I had the added advantage of being an educator, and so I knew what was expected academically, behaviorally, and socially in early education.
So, we decided to “redshirt” him a year. We made a financial sacrifice to give him a third year of preschool. He was the tallest child in the preschool class that year, and I’m sure other parents wondered “Why isn’t this kid in kindergarten?”
Twenty-six years later I still feel it’s one of the best decisions we ever made as parents! Here is why:
- We had to think long-term. Did we want him, as a high school sophomore at age 15, with other students who were already driving? No, we did not!
- Did we want him going off to college at age 17? No, we did not!
- Those extra months in pre-school gave time for penmanship, focusing skills, and interest in reading to develop.
- Being older in his early school years gave him confidence. That confidence put him in a leadership position, right from the start.
Sadly, so much of a child’s life today seems to be on fast-forward. Based on my personal experience, I am all for the “gift of time” that redshirting delivers. In my opinion, this is one of the best gifts you can ever give your child.
And recently, when I asked my son, Michael, his opinion, he enthusiastically agreed!
Editor's note: Be sure to read our article: Kindergarten Redshirting: Is It Right for Your Child? Please leave a comment on the article and share your thoughts about the practice of redshirting.